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Mt Lebanon Magazine

The official magazine of Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania

New Year, New You? How goal setting helps me achieve

Traveling and spending more time with family was on Stephanie’s dream board that year.

Lose weight. Run a half marathon. Spend more time with family and friends. Travel often.

At the start of every year, I’ve always had some ginormous resolution that I swore up and down that I would accomplish that year. If I said it out loud—or at least inside my head—just once, that would mean it would just happen for me, right?

Sure. Maybe? Or, maybe not?

Year after year passed and resolution after resolution went unaccomplished (OK, there were a few times that I accomplished one, like running a half marathon at Disneyland or traveling to Hawaii!) “Guess I’ll just try again next year!” I’d say to myself by June, when I realized that I hadn’t done yoga once the entire year—especially when my resolution was to do it weekly!

But then I started to think: Is it so bad to have goals? Not at all. Goals are what drive us. Goals help us make our dreams a reality—they make the impossible become possible

For the last several years, I’ve gone about my resolution practice a little differently. Instead of simply saying “I will look like Jennifer Aniston by the end of the year!” I wrote out my goals and made sure that they were attainable. Then, I created an action plan: Here are things I can do today, this week, this month, etc. to get there.

I also started creating vision boards, which have allowed me to face my dreams head-on. With these, I didn’t always have to have the plan drawn out, but it helped me to narrow down what I wanted in life so I knew which way to head. For example, “Spend more time with family.” This became more than a one-time thought that crossed my mind, and I swore that I would do it for the entire year. Instead of just thinking about it, a picture of family sat on a board and faced me each day, reminding me of what I wanted. It hung next to the picture of the new apartment that I wanted, and the shiny new car that I dreamt of. I put pictures up to help myself realize this was something I wanted to attain.

I first learned about vision boards through Oprah Winfrey (although, I’m aware this was a practice that started long before O Magazine days). Honestly, I thought they were a little stupid at first. To me, they looked like a project I would have made in kindergarten, gluing magazine letters onto a piece of construction paper and proudly showing my mom what I had accomplished.

But then, I thought about it: If Oprah—and so many other celebrities like Steve Harvey and Reese Witherspoon (my personal idol)—can do it, maybe I should try?

First, I should explain: What is a vision board? Essentially, you sit down and think long and hard about dreams and goals that you have for the future. Then, you find photos of those things and you hang them on a board that you display in your office, kitchen, or even as the background on your phone. The idea is to manifest your dreams (although, for me, it works because I’m a visual person and the board reminds me of my goals!)

After a few years, it all started to click. Each year, I tried to perfect my vision board. I tried digital. I tried using magnets to hang photos on a white board (that one did not work!) While not everything was accomplished that first year—and some years, my vision board looks quite the same as the last year—through the process, I learned a lot about myself. I learned where I wanted to head with my life. I learned who I wanted to spend more time with and what I wanted to feel—love, peace and happiness. Then, I found ways to go after those goals.

Getting a new car was on Stephanie’s dream board for 2020.

For me, I take one or two goals at a time and start charting out ways to achieve them. And guess what? It’s working.

While 2020 was a harsh and horrible year in so many ways…

That new car? Got it.

That new apartment? Got it.

So, as I plan for 2021, new goals have been added and I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for all of us.

What are your goals this year? We’d love to hear about them below.


  1. Author’s gravatar

    This is a great article! I had a dreamboard a few times, but I had forgotten about it the past few years… Now that I think of it, many of my “dreams” from those boards actually came true! I guess it’s time to start a new one! 👍

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