New Year’s always feels like the perfect time to start over and start fresh. While it’s fun to gather a handful of goals and start working on them, those goals are probably all over the place and may not be focused on coming together to create the person you want to be. Instead, consider using focus areas for goal planning to work towards the best you! Let’s talk about how focus areas can help you create better goals.

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Using Focus Areas for Goal Planning

I don’t know about you but I usually tend to go absolutely wild in my goal-setting for no reason. Like, do I really expect to hit 1,000 books read when I’m in the middle of graduate school (with a part-time grad assistantship, this blog, and a YouTube Channel?)

Absolutely not! I do not have the time to dedicate time to that many books but I might be able to realistically read five books (probably nonfiction) by the end of the year while still maintaining my other responsibilities.

To reduce that kind of head-in-the-cloud thinking, I like using focus areas for goal planning. By starting with about three to five focus areas for my life, I can better narrow down my goals while also getting a feel for how much I can realistically balance. Let’s dive into using focus areas for goal planning!

P.S. If you like the planner and notebook in this blog post, they are listed below to shop!

Last update on 2024-02-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2024-02-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Close-up picture of a Leuchtturm dotted notebook with the words "2024 Goals" written on in in pink marker with black pen over it.

Why Create Focus Areas?

The use of focus areas pulls from strategic planning. It allows you to choose where you are going to focus before using up your energy in plans, decisions, or goals.

Focus areas are helpful because they help narrow down how many things you can realistically focus on at one time. Even though you might have a lot of different things you want to accomplish, it’s important to narrow down the process. The hardest part of this process can be deciding what not to focus on so it can be helpful to write down all the different areas you want to work on and then circle the top three to five most important areas.

If you’re having a hard time narrowing down your focus areas, consider which ones will have the most impact on your life or will lead you to the biggest change you want to enact. After narrowing down your focus areas to three to five areas, you can start to figure out your goals!

Creating Goals for Your Focus Areas

After you’ve chosen your focus areas, it’s time to create your goals for each focus area! By using focus areas for goal planning, you’ve already created some specificity and, well, focus on your goals. Now, you can dig even deeper.

I like to use the rule of threes when choosing my focus areas and creating my goals, so I usually do three focus areas with three goals each but you can use whatever number or strategy works for you!

When creating goals, it can be useful to keep in mind the SMART system:

  • Specific – can you use a number or exact feeling to figure out when you have achieved this goal?
  • Measurable – can you track this goal using a counter, yes/no responses, etc.? You don’t have to but it could be a good idea.
  • Attainable – is this goal attainable within the time you’ve set? Consider if you’ve been close to the goal before or if previous efforts have brought you close.
  • Relevant – is this truly helpful in improving your life or making the life changes you are seeking?
  • Time-bound – does this goal have a deadline, such as a specific date, or season?

Using these parameters will help keep your goals useful and relevant to your focus areas.

For your 2024 goals, it can be helpful to think about what you want to have accomplished by the end of the year (time-bound). Then, consider what are some potential ways it can be broken down into monthly or quarterly goals (which you can then use later when creating even smaller goals). To keep things interesting, you can consider other potential deadlines than just the end of the year, such as by the end of a specific season (by the end of summer or fall) or by an important date (by my birthday, anniversary, etc).

I kept all of my focus areas by the end of the year and didn’t use any other deadlines. I’ll create smaller deadlines when I get into monthly or quarterly planning.

Picture of a Leuchtturm dotted notebook on top of a Leuchtturm weekly planner. The notebook has the following text written on it: 2024 Goals, Focus area #1: health and working out, cook 4 meals, run 1 mile w/o stopping.
Get the LEUCHTTURM1917 - Weekly Planner & Notebook 2024 with extra booklet, Hardcover, Medium (A5), Lilac... and matching LEUCHTTURM1917 - Notebook Hardcover Medium A5-251 Numbered Pages for Writing and Journaling (Lilac,....

Write Your Goals Down!

There’s so much evidence out there that writing things down helps us remember and process things better, including writing down our goals. Not only does this give you a visual cue about what your goals are but it can also help you see where you could be more specific or if a goal will even fit in your current schedule (you might need to make some heavy changes to get those early morning workouts in if you’re not already an early riser).

For me, just writing this blog post is making me want to go back to my goals list and improve on what I wrote down!

Not only have I found it helpful to write down goals over the years but it also provides a nice timeline of where I have improved parts of my life and where I need to go back and put more effort in. For example, during the pandemic, I was occasionally able to run a full mile on the treadmill without any pain. A few years out, that’s no longer true.

Using focus areas for goal planning means you can track the same focus areas across years (maybe decades?) or you can consistently switch it up as some of those goals contribute towards habits.

Following Up on Your Focus Areas & Goals

Here’s where most of us mess up: we create goals at the beginning of the year (or month) and then never check back in with those goals!

After choosing your focus areas and creating your goals, you need to remember to check in and make sure you are working towards the goals you set, not just the ones you remember writing down or what you think you wrote down.

Take some time to do all or some of the following:

  • create a calendar event at the end of the year to check with your goals and see where you made progress
  • set a weekly alarm to read through your goals so you’re remembering the right goals (and not last year’s goals or a different version than the goals you wrote down)
  • create a monthly calendar event to make sure you are focusing your efforts on the right goals for the month
  • text a friend to see if they want to be accountability partners
  • create a quarterly (once every three months) calendar event to see if you’ve made progress toward your goals
  • create a daily or weekly alarm to update any goal trackers you might be using

I like to transfer some of my goals into a habit tracker app (for example, tracking my workouts) to make sure I am making progress towards the goals I want to achieve by the end of the year.

Want More Goal Setting?

I share my focus areas and goal setting for 2024 in some YouTube videos! Check them out and share a goal or two in the comments.

Welcome to 2024 – Goals, Reflections, & Vibes for the New Year

2024 Goals: Focus Areas & New Year Planning ✒️


Sure, it’s fun to start writing down a random assortment of goals across all life areas and start immediately working on them, but those goals are all over the place and are not focused on coming together to create the person you want to be.

Instead, consider using focus areas for goal planning to make sure that your goals are cohesive and working together toward improving your life. After all, that’s what these goals are about, right? We’re trying to make changes in our life that help us feel better about ourselves. Using focus areas means you’re already narrowing your focus on where those changes would make the most impact.

Best of luck as you work towards your goals! Consider sharing one or two down below in the comments!

This is a career post about
Using Focus Areas for Goal Planning: New Year, Better You.

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