Do This Before You Set Your Goals for the New Year

jessica valant pilates


I am that person who loves to get a new planner for the beginning of the year. I can spend hours looking at every kind of day timer, trying to find the exact one to fit my needs (This is the one I use!)

The blank pages represent so much promise and possibility for the coming year. I spend an afternoon with my new planner, my online schedule, post-it notes, paper, highlighters and pens, writing out my goals and plans for the coming months.

The new year always feels that way to me – like an empty day timer. The number of days and hours are set, but you can fill them with whatever you would like!

This time of year, people talk a lot about dream boards, goal setting and “New Year Resolutions”. I think this is hugely important and started incorporating it into my yearly routine about eight years ago. I actually keep a notebook on my desk that includes goals for the year, pictures that represent certain feelings or things I want to accomplish and inspirational quotes and sayings. I review it throughout the year as a reminder of where my focus should be, and what my priorities are. Then, when the New Year approaches, I’ll go through it and make changes as needed for where I am in my life now.

I know many people go through a similar process, and I think there is so much power in goal setting and setting intentions for our lives.

There is one extra step I go through that I don’t hear many people discuss, and that I think is actually the most important part of the process.

That is offering gratitude for the previous year and honoring what’s occurred to get us to this point.


At the end of every year, before I create any goals or ideas for the next year, I write down the “highlights” of the previous year.

I keep a journal on my desk, and I write down a list of the major memories or events or accomplishments of the previous year. It only takes me five minutes and has been such a gift for me.

Sometimes I can get through an entire year and look back and say “What just happened? Didn’t I want to travel more and work less? Didn’t I want to do yoga every week and write a book about IVF? Is the year seriously already over?”

Well, maybe I didn’t do yoga every week. Or much at all. But I did walk just about every single day and slowed down to rehabilitate a back injury that surprised me. I got to know my new city through those long walks! I’ll write that down.

Maybe I didn’t write that book about IVF. But I was given the greatest gift of all when I got pregnant through IVF and had our beautiful baby boy. I’ll definitely be writing that down.

Maybe I didn’t become a Pilates Anytime instructor, but the new friendships I developed in the Pilates community are some of the greatest gifts from this past year. Writing it down.

We moved cross country, we bought a house, we played, we danced, we laughed. I’ll write every single one of those down.

If you take just a few moments, I promise you will be so thankful you took a chance to recognize what happened and record it.

If you are like me, the previous year might just seem like a blur and, while you know it was wonderful, you aren’t sure what just happened.

Or maybe there were some really hard times that take front and center in your heart and mind right now.

Sit down in the quiet for a few minutes and reflect. Look through your phone at all the wonderful pictures and smiling faces. Check your Facebook account or text messages or travel logs for the year.

Honor another year of your life and be gracious with yourself if maybe you didn’t accomplish one of your goals.

I’ve already done yoga once this year, so I’m track for once a week. It’s a new year, so that means new goals!

In the meantime, I’ll give thanks to 2017 for providing me laughter, new friends, strengthened old friendships, community, an amazing daughter, son and husband, a home we love, some good champagne and precious time with family.

I’ll also be particularly grateful for this amazing space and you for being here.

Cheers to you and your loved ones, and Happy New Year!

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