Goals Planner Review Planners

2018 Goal Setting Part 1: Brainstorming & Organizing

December 30, 2017

I take year-end goal setting very seriously.  Mostly because it’s the one time each year that many others get as crazy as I do about planners, habits, goals, and the like!

But, I’m also a sucker for a fresh start.  I’ve always ALWAYS loved the feel of a new notebook, school year, or calendar page.  Something about that potential and clean slate just speaks to me!

So, here we are.  2018.  I have a newborn but apparently she was game for some goal setting too, or at least napping while I did my part.  2018 is going to be quite a year — it will be my last (sob!) year of being a mother to a young infant, and I really do want to savor it*.  At the same time, there will be a LOT to lean into at work (maybe not ideal timing, but it is what it is!) as we launch our inaugural residency class, and I am still jazzed up about plans for this blog & the podcast (and maybe a spin-off project too).

I already do monthly and weekly reviews, so I tend to know what is on my plate.  But the year gets me to think a little bigger and encourages pruning of festering ‘to do’ items that maybe DON’T need to be on the list anymore.  I started by brainstorming a number of things that sounded like they would make the year fulfilling.  This was sort of my rough draft/round 1, where I came up with ideas but didn’t have a firm timeline for commitment.

Like many, I decided to choose a word for this year, and my pick was S P A C E, probably because if I don’t intentionally cultivate it, it will be a very crowded 12 months.

I then decided to break up the year into quintiles.  YES, QUINTILES.  I would have done quarters, but because of my maternity leave, it made sense to do things a little bit differently.  Then, I’ll be making my list of goals (combo of bucket-list-type items, habits, and big-picture projetcts!) for each. I’ll show the Q1 goals in part 2 of this post.

My Quintiles:

Q1  January 1 – March 4 – Maternity Leave

Q2  March 5 – June 7 – Back to Work

Q3 – June 8 – August 19 – Summer

Q4 August 20 – November 1 – School push

Q5 – November 2 – December 31 – Holiday / end of year

Each will have a separate focus (or dual foci, for some – for example I hope to do a lot of fun with family in Q3 but it’s also a very big month at work as our residents orient and start!).

In case anyone is interested (and often people will ask, so I’ll assume SOMEONE is!) — I don’t write these in my planner.  I did the brainstorming in a nuuna notebook I use for random journaling, and I have another notebook I started for the new year, mostly because my new planner is soooo tiny (by my standards) that I needed a supplement.  The new notebook was a gift from my sister and it is a dot grid hand-sewn by the Plum Umbrella Studio (here).  I’ll be using it to brainstorm goals, keep random lists that are too big for my hobonichi, and keep track of analog blog/podcast/etc brain dumps.

Interestingly, I am not sure it felt as fleeting or as special the other times.  Especially with C actually, because I was just so overwhelmed with 2 under 2.  Maybe it’s because I always knew I would go for 3.  Though with that hypothesis not sure why I would have kon-mari’d the #$*&@# out of all of our baby stuff.  Oh well.

PS: I know I’ve mentioned it, but if you want more pictures like this I have resurrected my planner insta shubox_plans.  My regular insta is the_shubox and the podcast is at  best_of_both_worlds_podcast (you can probably tell I manage this, and Laura does weekly themed posts where people often comment!).


  • Reply Emily March 10, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    What is the ebook going to be about? I”m very interested!

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:08 pm

      Very good eye ๐Ÿ™‚ I want to write a book or ebook on (shocker) . . . planning techniques!! Not 100% sure of my angle but after recording the planner podcast episode I decided it was at least a short book”s worth of material!!

  • Reply Irene March 10, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    Ok I have to ask – I looked briefly through the podcast instagram and saw on your time tracking post ….GOMI? I thiyou had totally sworn off??? Just curious because I read occasionally too but it definitely doesn’t feel like time well spent some times!

  • Reply SusannahEarlyBd March 10, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    Thanks for this post! I really enjoy reading about the way others structure their goals. I like the quintile idea!

  • Reply Unblock Web Proxy March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    my angle but after recording the plann

  • Reply Katie March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Thanks Sara & Sarah ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m endlessly fascinated by work flow methods, efficiency, etc. I would love to listen to a podcast on this topic and think Sara would be a fantastic guest! I feel inspired just by her brief explanation here and will check out Trello, though I do love the idea of a big whiteboard and a rainbow of post-its ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Katie March 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Hi Sarah,I always love your planning posts and am adopting your quintiles approach to yearly goal setting – seems so much more focused and productive to me. I’ve recently been reading/learning a lot about Kanban (the work flow process used by tech companies and others) and how to apply it to individual/personal projects. I’m also about to invest in a nice, large whiteboard to use for this purpose. While I love my yearly planner and daily to-do lists, I find having a larger visual on the wall to be more motivating, productive and rewarding. I’m wondering if you’ve used this system (or similar) in your professional or personal life and your thoughts. Would be interesting to know if others have found such a system helpful in pursuing their personal goals – maybe a podcast episode??

    • Reply Sara March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

      Katie, I do this for a living 😊 I work with software delivery teams and help them organize their work via a Kanban or Scrum delivery model. The basic concept is to break down large pieces of work into much smaller changes that can be completed on an interative basis. The same method can definitely be applied to personal goals. The primary reason we use a model like this in software delivery is because the work is complicated and it”s nearly impossible to estimate such a big deliverable. If we break it down into small pieces, we get working code into Production and can more readily assess what enhancements we should make. The same method can work for big personal goals! Visuals are really useful. You can use a tool like Trello to help you organize your goals – or even old fashioned post-it notes.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

      HI Katie! Thanks so much for adding this. I’ve been intrigued by this concept but haven’t tried it myself. I think it would be an awesome podcast topic – maybe I can ask Sara below ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Organising Queen March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I also love your word of the year and I most especially love your quintile planning. I do think you’re the first person I’ve seen to split up your year in quintiles ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Brittnie March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I really love your word for the year. And I love reading about how you dream and plan and organize.:) Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply WINDOWS MAC March 10, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    and how to apply it to individual/personal projects. I’m also about to invest in a nice, large whiteboard to use for this purpos

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