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Bradston Henry
Bradston Henry

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3 Things We Do Wrong When Setting New Year Goals

I genuinely cannot believe that it's 2022!

I remember being a kid and thinking to myself that the 2010s and 20s were the far off future and that I need not worry about what the world would be like or where I would be. And here we are! A new year, a new start and a new chance to consider what goals we would like to accomplish for the year!

If you are anything like me, goal-setting can feel like a double-edged sword; on one-hand it's a great feeling to dream and have hope on what can be accomplished but on the other hand, it can be overwhelming and genuinely anxiety inducing.

And to be very honest, I have personally avoided making New Year resolutions or new goals at the beginning of the year because I felt that they were more or less unnecessary. But as I've gotten older and have matured in my personal and career journey, I have seen the merit of reflecting on my past year and planning for the next.

So in this blog, I'm going to share with you how NOT to make goals for the coming year and what we do wrong in general (as well as how to make better goals). In order to make it more real, I am going to share some of my own personal goals for 2022 and how I improved each of them.

The Words Goals etched on fabric

1. Creating goals that you don't really care about

  • Bad: Get 10k Subs on my Youtube channel by 2023

  • Better: Get 1k Engaged Subs on my Youtube channel by 2023

So when making goals, it's KEY to make sure those goals actually matter to YOU! I know that may may seem a bit obvious but do you think deeply about your goals as you create them? Do you care if you accomplish that goal? Does it align with you actual worldview and your long-term goals and desires? Do you PERSONALLY care about these goal or are these goals that culture, family, media, or the internet has pressured you into pursuing?

Thinking deeply about the goals you've created and asking these types of questions help you to see how important the goals you have created really are.

In the past, it was easy for me to make goals to make other people happy or goals that were focused on making me look good. But if I were to be honest with myself, many of those goals didn't really matter to me in the grand scheme of things. The two goals above are a perfect example of this issue.

In the past few months, I have been dipping my toes into the world of Youtube-ing and I have really enjoyed it. As a part of that journey, I want to grow my sub count and I would love to have a larger reach to hopefully help more people. But the big mistake I originally made when making this goal was that I wanted to have a HUGE sub count because I knew it would make me seem more "legitimate" and, dare I say, "cool".

But honestly, as I dug deeper, I found that I just want to have a meaningful impact on those who engage with my content not just have a huge "follower-ship". It's more important for me to connect with my viewers than to be popular, so I needed to update my goal to reflect that truth.

The "better" goal I created more aligns with my worldview and my personal long-term goals and desires. This now highly increases my likelihood of success. Instead of it just being a goal that I will attempt to reach begrudgingly, it will feel closer to my heart and be something I GENUINELY care about and will fight harder to accomplish.

2. Creating huge goals that are pass/fail

So I'm ALL about pushing your limits and trying to reach for huge goals and dreaming big, BUT be careful about how you make your goals. It's fundamentally a bad idea to make "pass/fail" condition on huge goals. The reason for this is because in many cases there isn't a failure state that shows the growth you may have made toward that goal throughout the year.

For example, How would I possibly measure if my podcast was in contention to be a Top Podcast in the New York Times? What metric is NYT team using and would I even be aware if I was targeting those metrics and making any progress toward them?

In contrast, reaching the goal of growing my podcast audience by 10x may be difficult but even if I don't reach that goal I can easily see how close I was to reaching it. I can then use that to measure the progress I've made and consider readjusting my expectations for next year and evaluate if my goal was fundamentally flawed when I created it initially.

A huge problem with "pass/fail" goals, in general, are that they lack transparency on your progress. Just because you didn't achieve your goal of getting first place at the huge marathon you participated in, does NOT mean that you didn't get closer to achieving that top spot on the podium.

Now I'm not saying all "pass/fail" goals are bad, but be realistic about your expectations and when you do create a goal, make sure there is a way to measure your growth. Success isn't the ONLY indicator of growth. Failure sometimes shows more growth than your success possibly could.

3. Creating goals that are too general/vague

  • Bad: Write Better Quality Blog Posts
  • Better: Increase Blog quality by getting feedback and spending more time editing prior to publishing on

This particular "wrong" has been something I have been struggling with for a very long time in my life. As a consequence of my somewhat chaotic way of thinking and my overall inability to sit still and focus on one thing for an extended period of time, creating "general/vague" goals has always been easy/natural. Thinking through the details of any particular goal (or idea) and all of its nuances has never been one of my strong points.

But at some time in my life, I was introduced to the concept of S.M.A.R.T goals and the thought process associated to it has helped me immensely when thinking through goals.

So what are S.M.A.R.T goals:

S: Specific
M: Measurable
A: Achievable
R: Relevant
T: Time-bound

Using the S.M.A.R.T goal structure when creating goals gives you a great framework to work with. If you compare my bad goal and my better goal from above, you can see that one of the goals makes it a bit easier for me to know if I am actually accomplishing what I set out to do.

It's truly my desire to make "better" blogs but the concept of "better" is pretty nebulous or hard to really measure. My second goal is much clearer because it captures how I can measure if my blogs are better and even gives me actionable items I can use to make "Better" blogs.

Take time to consider if your Goals are S.M.A.R.T and how you can improve them. There are so many times we as people fail accomplishing goals because our goals are so undefined that accomplishing success may actually be impossible.

To learn more about S.M.A.R.T goals, check out this article

To be honest, Goal setting is difficult because it sets a standard of desired achievement with the possibility of failure. For me, like most people, I like to avoid failure BUT goals give us the opportunity to "Find a hero to chase". So to leave you with some words to encouragement on pursuing our goals, I'll pass it off to the Oscar Award Wining Actor, Matthew McConaughey:

So what do ya'll think are some ways we can make better goals for the year? Are there any techniques you use or pitfalls you've learned to avoid?

Happy New Year and wishing you the best of luck on your journey,

Bradston Henry


Cover Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Goals Photo by Ronnie Overgoor on Unsplash


Twitter: Bradston Dev @bradstondev
Youtube: Bradston YT
LinkedIn: Bradston Henry
Podcast: Super Agile Bros

Top comments (1)

jschleigher profile image
James Schleigher

Thanks for sharing. In the past few years, I successfully failed at keeping my new year's resolutions. And the point that you mentioned is all true! So, I learned from my mistakes and kept my goals short-term. I do this in order to feel like I have achieved something and get more motivated for my next goals. I also use task management software like Todoist or Quire. It's much more manageable using a digital tool.