a 6 step process, the “eff yeah” list, and a peek at my annual goal setting template that will help you see once and for all that i’m obsessively type-A and 100% crazy. what? you already knew that? okay then, carry on.

If the thought of having an uber detailed plan of goals and action steps for the year ahead makes you twitchy with over-structure, you should just quietly back away from this post. No, seriously, off you go now.

If, however, you’re a personal development whore like me who’s completely turned on by intention setting and checklists and dividing things up into pretty little color-coded boxes, then welcome home, baby. You’re just six steps away from joining me in a blaze of 2012 goal setting glory.

Ready? Let’s do this.

Step 1 - Look back over the year that’s about to end and make your “Eff Yeah” List. You know, that list of badass things you accomplished throughout the past 12 months – big and small – that makes you want to dance naked around the kitchen with pride.

A few of my Eff Yeah 2011 List items include moving in with James Bond, quitting drinking, launching my food blog, and completing my first half marathon. Yep, it was a pretty damn good year.

Step 2 - Think about the big picture of your life and choose one word or phrase that best represents your dreams for the coming year. After you’ve settled on a word, spend some time thinking about why you chose that word and list a few bullet points about what it means to you and how you’re going to manifest that word (or phrase) into everything you do.

My 2011 word was intention, and my 2012 word is honesty. More specifically, I’m gunning for greater honesty with myself about the difference between what I actually want and what I think I should want in any given situation. Goal: more truth, less shoulds.

Step 3 - Choose nine different “Life Buckets” that, when looked at together, represent the sum of who you are and how you spend your time. These nine different categories should be like the puzzle pieces of your day-to-day, taking into account your most important priorities and values.

A few of my Life Buckets for 2012 are self-explanatory (Romance, Food, Running, Friendship) and a few are more creative, like “Do Uncomfortable Shit,” which represents things I’ll try next year to totally push me out of my comfort zone.

Quick note: when I’m making my list of Life Buckets, I never include anything work-related because I like to do an entirely separate goal setting exercise for that. You can absolutely include work as a bucket it if it makes sense for you, though, which is the gorgeous thing about this system: it can be whatever the hell you want it to be. Customizable down to the last drop.

Step 4 - Write down three big goals in each Life Bucket that you’d like to accomplish by the end of the year. Keep in mind that these goals should reflect where you want to be by the end of next year and aren’t things that you all of the sudden have to start doing at 6am on January 1. Thinking about it now, actually, I feel like that’s a big reason that a lot of typical New Year’s Resolutions fade out so quickly. If we feel like we have to be perfectly on track as soon as the year begins, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. I mean, it’s not like I’m going to wake up on January 1 and be an entirely different person with entirely different habits; habits take a while to build and even longer to stick.

For example, one of my big goals in the Exercise Bucket for 2011 was to work out three times per week, and yet April was the first month that I was able to do it. I tried in January, February, and March, but it just didn’t happen. Sure, I was working out, but there was always at least one week per month where I only worked out twice, or once, or not at all, and it took me until April to check off 4 consecutive weeks of regular exercise. Then, in the middle of May, I signed up for a half marathon – a goal I would have found hysterically unachievable at the beginning of the year and never would have thought to add to my goal sheet – but yet here I am, nearing the end of December and consistently working out 6 days a week and training for my second half marathon in February. The Craziness, no?

What I’m saying here is that goal setting is a process, and that you have to trust in that process if you want to grow. You have to trust that you can’t see the whole picture or the finish line when you make your goals, because you have no idea where they’ll lead you once you start down that path. All you can do is make one good decision after another and continually reevaluate as you go. I mean, if I never would have committed to a year-long goal of working out three times a week, and if I would have quit after January (or February! or March!) because my results weren’t perfect, then I never would have fallen in love with running in April. Which brings me to another thing: sometimes the biggest accomplishments are ones that spring up out of nowhere (like my half marathon!), so make sure you trust your instincts when you’re drawn toward something you can’t say no to. Except maybe heroin, that’s never a good idea.

Step 5 - On January 1, and on every first of the month thereafter, write down one small action step you’re going to do that month for each of your big goals. These action steps are ones you’ll work to check off throughout that month, and then at the end of the month you’ll make a new list for the next month, and so on and so on during the entire year.

For example, one of my Life Buckets for next year is “Food,” and one of my big goals is to attend 4 food related events by the end of the year. So in January, the action step for this big goal will be to research food events and narrow it down to the ones I’d most like to attend. Then, on February 1, assuming I’ve completed January’s action step, I’ll write a new action step for that month that moves me closer to my goal. Maybe that next step will be to buy tickets to an upcoming event, or to make travel plans if the event is out of town, but I don’t have to worry about that yet because I won’t know the second step until I’ve accomplished the first step. This process, like so many things, is best done one step at a time.

Now, listen, if you do the math, you’ll realize that with nine Life Buckets, three big goals per Bucket, and one action step per goal per month, you’ll wind up with 27 action steps to do each month, which, yes, sounds like a lot. But here’s the thing: I’ve never done all 27. I think I hit 18 or 19 one month in 2011, but that’s it. And that’s okay. Because really, it’s 18 or 19 more things than I would have accomplished if I didn’t use this system, and that means I’m still moving forward and making progress at an awesome rate. And honestly, the majority of my personal growth has come from looking at the things I didn’t do each month and asking myself the all-important question: “Why not?” That’s where the really interesting personal development comes into play, I think, when you start examining why you didn’t do the things you said you wanted to do. For me, it’s always one of three reasons. Either I was just totally fucking lazy, the action step was too large for the time frame, or it doesn’t represent something that I truly want. It’s the last reason that’s always the most eye-opening for me, and it takes the physical act of moving something from January’s list to February’s list to March’s list, etc. etc. to realize that, hey, maybe I just don’t want to do that thing – or at least, I don’t want to do it right now. That’s what happened to me in 2011 with my book of essays. One of my big goals in the Writing Bucket at the beginning of the year was to complete the first draft of a book of personal essays, and it wasn’t until I saw the smallest action step get moved from month to month to month that I realized I just don’t want to write a book right now. So, during my mid-year review in June I erased that big goal and replaced it with a new one – to start a food blog – a goal that come to fruition much more smoothly because it was in line with what I actually wanted.

Step 6 - Once you’ve chosen your word of the year and your Life Buckets and your big goals, take some time to go through them with someone else. It doesn’t matter who you choose (your best friend, your fiance, your mother), but the act of talking about your goals really brings them to life and helps you clarify exactly how you’re going to pursue them. Also, it starts a support system that I think you’ll need if you’re going to be successful. It’s possible to do all of this on your own, of course, but it’s eleventy thousand times easier if you have someone (or multiple someones!) to share the process, challenges, and accomplishments with. Sharing is caring, yo.

Bonus step - Take your list of big goals, make it pretty, and hang it somewhere you can see every day. If you’re a scrapbook-ey person, do it by hand. If you’re a spreadsheet-ey person, do it in a spreadsheet. If you’d like to see what I do, click here to download a preview of my layout, as well as a blank Word Doc layout for you to fill in yourself if you’d like to join me in my 2012 planning madness.

On that note, if you do join me (yay! partners in madness!), it would be awesome if you could leave a comment and let me know your word for the year, some of your Life Buckets and big goals, and anything else you have planned. I’m embarrassingly obsessed with hearing about other people’s goals and dreams, and if there’s anything I can do to help you out, I’d love to make it happen!

{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

Bobbi December 16, 2011 at 12:05 am

Nicole! I loved this so much and can not wait to sit down and complete this this weekend. (And force my best friend to do it too.) Really, thank you.


Meghan December 16, 2011 at 6:57 am

I. just. love. everything. about. this.


doniree December 16, 2011 at 7:08 am

I’ve loved your goal-planning tools and madness ever since you started sending me color-coded PDFs filled with quotes and love and amazing things. Also, I’m totally in with *this* one (AGAIN!) this year. My 2011 word was brilliance. My 2012 word is peace. Life gets crazy and unexpected things happen, and I always end up frazzled, cluttered, and overwhelmed. I want to pare down the things in my life to the ones I actually care about, and stop trying to play catch up all the time. Peace. That’s my word. I knew it a month ago. xo!


Sara Rosso December 16, 2011 at 8:04 am

A fellow A-Type list lover salutes you :) Fun! I don’t have as many buckets, but I do enjoy setting those goals for the upcoming year!


christa December 16, 2011 at 8:06 am

nicole, this is genius! shane won’t be pleased that i’m going to make him do it too, but oh well.
doniree, i swear i was just sitting here reading this post in my reader and thinking of my word and mine was also peace! seems like 2011 has been crazy, hah. but basically, i thrive too much in chaos (not a good thing if you can’t sit still) and need to learn to slow down and enjoy the moment.
goals…. ironman texas, drink less (i don’t know how i’m going to quantify this but i know i can never truly quit drinking – wine was my first love), nest (it’s ridiculous that we’ve lived in our house almost a year and still aren’t completely unpacked….and i don’t decorate it, carlene does! so i should probably take an interest, ugh)…and then a couple of work-related items.
i love this!! thanks!


Tia December 16, 2011 at 8:36 am

I want to do this.

And one of my big goals for 2012 is to stop neglecting my dog and start paying more individual attention to her on a regular basis. Sounds weird, but post-baby, it’s something I need to make an effort for.

Another is to write a little bit, a few times a week, and see what happens. That would be good for an evolving month-to-month goal I think.


suki December 16, 2011 at 10:05 am

adding to my must-do in the next two weeks. i have a feeling my word is similar to yours b/c i’m feeling stretched this year beyond what is true to my core. doing way too much, focusing so little on the why and huh?! ;)


Damian O December 16, 2011 at 11:01 am

“The Set Up”

2012 is my “fix everything that’s broken” year, so that 2013 starts my baggage-less life of awesomeness and freedom. This template-amajig is spot on. So many thanks for sharing.


Kait December 16, 2011 at 11:53 am

It’s this little thing my friend and I have dubbed : Operation: Get your shit together. Or as we call it OP:GYST.

We each have to make a presentation of our goals for the upcoming year. We will meet once a month over coffee to discuss how our plans are going and talk over things we need help with. Good to know we aren’t the only ones going to kick 2012′s ass into awesome-ness.


Drea December 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm

This is a bummer. I totally thought of a 2012 word last night in bed and then I went to sleep and now I can’t remember it. I’ll have to get back to you on this one. 2011′s word/prophesy was “become.”


Jocelyn the Master December 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Very impressive! I think Step 6 is particularly important. I find that sometimes there are things I want to accomplish, but I’m too nervous to tell anyone because if I fail then THEY’LL KNOW, but then I never end up accomplishing anything because I have no support system. Plus, my excuse becomes that if I don’t do it, then no one will know that I gave up and somehow that makes it okay.


Gretchen December 16, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I think my word will be “healthy.”

I planned to get on the treadmill regularly as my 2011 New Year’s resolution, and like you, I didn’t really start sticking to it until April of this year. AND you were a huge motivation and encouragement, without even realizing it. By you saying you were doing a half marathon, and then doing it, I was encouraged. My goal for 2012 is to run a half marathon. In order to get there, I plan to run at least a 5K every month. First step out of the comfort zone is a 14K in February!


Drea December 16, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Ugh now I’m reading everyone else’s words and it’s polluting my mind of my OWN word. I LIKE ALL YOUR WORDS, DAMMIT.


Cheryl S. December 16, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I really like this. I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle 9 buckets, but I’m going to try to implement this in some way. I think my word for the year should be KINDNESS or maybe UNDERSTANDING. I need to be kinder and more understanding in all areas of my life. With myself, my daughter, my husband, friends, family, etc.

One of my big goals is to work out at least twice a week. Another is to work on my relationship with my hubby. We are both so busy that we don’t really connect.

I’m a list maker, so I’ll be working on my list soon!


Lynsey @MoscatoMom December 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm

LOVE this. My 2011 word was Focus, which I did… sporadically. My 2012 word is going to be FINISH. I am a great starter… but I seldom actually FINISH things. I START training for a 5k – but never do. I get a great idea for a new work project… but do not see it through to fruition. I have been with the most wonderful man in the world for me who wants to get married… but I keep holding out. In 2012 I am vowing to FINISH what I START. Thanks for the push (shove?!) in the right direction.


Kelly December 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm

You are seriously my hero. As someone who is pretty against resolutions, having real goals with an actual plan for the year is exactly what I want and need. I think possibly my word for 2012 is going to be PROGRESS because I’ve been stagnant and wanting to change things (work, health, hobbies) for at least two years without doing anything about it. I can’t wait to get started. Also I LOVE colors so that template is the bestest. And also, thank you for reminding me about heroin, you never know when you might forget.


Cassie December 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Mine will be CREATE :) Creating lots and lots of awesome new memories with my boyfriend, friends and kids and creating lots of lovely things for my etsy, my peeps, my house and myself! (((((excitement)))))


Jennie December 16, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I have been feeling super unfulfilled at work and in general lately so this post couldn’t have come at a better time! So now I’m excited to use my days off around Christmas and New Years working me way through this list…like more excited than I am about presents and family bonding, blah blah blah…is that bad? I DON’T EVEN CARE.


Jennie December 16, 2011 at 2:22 pm

*MY way. Working MY way through this list. Not me way.

(I am a secret pirate)


Harry @ GoalsonTrack December 16, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Great advice on goal setting.

You may also want to check out and download a free ebook on goal setting called “Goals! How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible” at http://www.goalsontrack.com/index/goals_ebook


Jena December 16, 2011 at 5:14 pm

I love everything about this post, and I think I’m going to try it! I’m really big into setting goals for myself and such, like you’re doing :) I think it’s awesome and I really just keep falling in love with your blog! It makes me aspire to make mine just as awesome!


Caroline December 16, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Hmmm, I’m actually going to try to do this. I’m never very good at carrying out plans–and actually, the theme of my list so far (I’m in the first stages of brainstorming right now) is USE TIME MORE WISELY. I tend to go to work, and come home and sit on the couch and watch TV and surf the internet and then go to bed. I work, I justify it with being tired. On my off days, I justify laziness by “hey, I have the day off.”

But I feel much better when I actually get shit done. So somehow I think that might be my main theme, like yours is Honesty.

The key for me is going to be breaking each goal into manageable chunks, and not trying to do it all at once!


Kathryn December 17, 2011 at 3:26 am

Yay! I got so excited reading the first paragraph, I LOVE LISTS! I’ve had ‘bucket lists’ before but its more like the overall life list whereas this is breaking it down and getting stuff done, I haven’t done this kind of list before but I think it’s kind of brilliant! My word for 2012 is Balance, this past year I have let my job take priority over my personal goals and I want to set boundaries this year. Thanks again for the post, keep it up!


Sweeney December 17, 2011 at 3:55 am

This is amazing. Bookmarking it for when I get home for break. I’m thinking, right now, that my word will probably be “purpose.” I’ve got a good solid “Eff Yeah” list for this year, but everything I did was always so, “Well, I guess that’s a thing I can do.” I would like to start making an effort to work towards things with a greater sense of purpose in mind instead of just ambling into them and wondering what exactly the take-away is supposed to be at the end. (Which is part of why this process is so fantastic.)

Thank you for sharing this :)


Heidi_Australia December 17, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Thanks so much for this AMAZING tool! I filled it in immediately and am ready to go for 2012!! This excites me because I rarely stick to goals made on Jan 1st, but I feel that this is a more thought-out approach for a change and I know that I will be happier when I do my EFF YEAH list from 2012.
My word is Satisfied with a focus on sitting still and being happier with where I am in my life right now, and acknowledging my imperfections as being ok (as opposed to too much self-berating)
My bucket lists revolve around my child, marriage, church life, friendships, fun stuff, etc.
My biggest bucket list sub-goal is to formally organise catchups with significant girlfriends ahead of time. I do too much on the spur of the moment and they often already have plans. They deserve more tlc and that is my biggest challenge this coming year.
Thanks again for sharing your goals, it helped me ‘find’ mine


Jodi Henderson December 17, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I really really really dig this. I’m not sure what word I’ll choose, but a couple that come to mind right off the bat are focus and balance. Will need to think about it some more. In any case, I’m looking forward to sitting down and completing this exercise. Thanks for sharing!


Shaba December 18, 2011 at 11:06 am

I’m just finishing up my chart! Thanks for this great idea, my word of 2012 is going to be JOY. I’m tired of feeling blah, spending so much time thinking about why I feel that way, etc. I’m focusing on doing the things I know make me joyful.


Sian December 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Oh, this post makes me happy. I always get excited about planning around this time of year. I don’t have a word yet, but I will. Yes I will.


amy December 18, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I did a whole post on this, awesome idea. I feel so good after writing it, like I’ve got direction for everything I want to work on.


Rachel Lee December 19, 2011 at 12:04 am

This is brilliant. I think my word should be “forgiveness.” Forgiving myself for the mistakes I’ve made, forgiving the boy for the mistakes he’s made, and just gaining a general perspective that even if your world comes crashing down the world still spins, with or without you.

Also, for a second I was afraid you and James Bond had broken up because you haven’t mentioned him in a while so I thought maybe things went to the wayside. If you did, I’m sorry. If you didn’t, yay.

Side note, I should probably become less invested in other people’s relationships.


Christina December 19, 2011 at 7:45 am

I’m continually more and more amazed by your amazing-ness. I’ve been so stressed out with finals and holiday shit that I forgot about the New Year and all of the madness that it indeed does bring. Thanks for reminding me- to the template I go!!


Mikael December 19, 2011 at 11:32 am

And now you’ve totally got me wanting to do this list. I’m not the best at follow through when given a list but this sounds like a neat way to set yourself up to go for your goals! I especially like your Step #2– more truth, less shoulds. That’s definitely something worth thinking about in my life, so thanks for making me start pondering Nicole! <3


Mayor Gia December 19, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Wow you are SUPER organized. I’m impressed. And also maybe a bit overwhelmed.


emmysuh December 20, 2011 at 4:55 pm



emmysuh December 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm

ALSO, as a suggestion to keep all of us on track, what if you did a monthly summary post that people could read/comment on, then link to their own summary entries? Or you could do a mailing list?

Someone probably already suggested that, but I know seeing YOU post on your monthly accomplishments would probably keep me and others participating conscious of working on their goals.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU. I have had a miserable year and while I admit I was in crisis and coping mode, I hate how little I have done this year. I’ve been looking for ideas to make 2012 a better year and this is right up my alley.


Jess Ostroff December 20, 2011 at 8:29 pm

It’s not that I don’t want to do this, I do. And I get what you’re saying about taking it in bite-sized chunks (I almost wrote bite-sexed. What does this say about my mind at the moment???), and somehow the bite-sized strategy always works for me when it comes to professional stuff, but not for personal stuff. I have a stupid mental block that makes it so that I can’t start things because I’m too scared I’m not going to finish them. People always say it’s the starting that’s the hardest, but it’s not. I start things all the time and never finish them. It might have something to do with the ‘this isn’t really what I want’ thing, but I think it’s more than that. I guess maybe actually FINISHING something one time will give me the confidence to finish other things. It always seems so overwhelming! Props to you for doing more and thinking less :)


Krista December 20, 2011 at 8:42 pm

This just rocked my New Year, and it’s not even here yet! I can’t wait to do this. You’ve summed up and provided all the tools needed to create a kick-ass plan for the year. LOVE LOVE LOVE this!

I don’t know yet what my word will be… Need to do some thinking! Thanks again for taking the time to write this out! Yay!! :)


Kinsey Michaels December 20, 2011 at 9:53 pm

this. is. AWESOME!!!
Nicole you are a goal-setting genius. I too am a lover of lists and have always been obsessed with goal-setting, and in particular, visualizing them with dream boards. I am definitely going to do this fun exercise with my sisters when I’m back east for the holidays, I think it’ll be a lot of fun to learn about what their goals are, and also hold each other accountable for them!
Off the top of my head, I know in 2012 I want to: secure an amazing job that I’m passionate about and love going to work everyday for, continue improving and building my blogs, cross a bunch of things off my California/LA bucket list (CAN I COME TO YOUR FIRST GIRL’S BRUNCH EVENTS??!! :), and tone up so I can be in the best shape I’ve been!


Jessie December 20, 2011 at 10:23 pm

I am so doing this. I’d been thinking of doing a list of things to do before my next birthday, but I sort of like this so much better. I am going to switch it from being about 2012 to being about the year I’m 23. (My birthday’s today, so it’s pretty close anyway, and I like the idea of goals to accomplish before your next birthday.) I just wrote out my list of goals, and am working on this month’s small steps. Pretty excited!


Joanne December 20, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Nicole, thank you so much for spending time to make this! I already put all my goals for next year down and made out different papers for different months with some of the goals a little different. I even put different quotes and colors for February and March. I’ll just make up ones for the other months as they come. Anyway, I love the whole idea!


Heather December 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm


My word for 2012 is rebuild. This year has been a year of loss for me so I figure what better way to enter 2012 than to rebuild it, starting with myself!!

Totally doing this!!!


Kanriah December 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm

I really want to try to do this soon. I Love it. I really need to get some time To Myself to do this without distractions from kids or a husband who usually isn’t Here at home All The Time.

I am too often the person who doesn’t make the detailed lists and plans and goes through life as it comes. I make plans or goals and roll with what comes without having anything Specific I’m working towards. Which makes it hard to accomplish as much. I want more from 2012 and I think your way of doing it could help me focus to make that happen.


Mary December 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm

I love this, I’m totally going to do it. I’m also likely to make YOU be the one I share it with because you will GET it and a lot of people in life will be like “why are you making me do this again?” That’s not really true, I just want to share with you cause you’re awesome.

I’ll have to put more time into it, but off the top of my head I’m thinking “commitment” for my word because I am insanely sucky at following through on stuff (and I also predict things like an engagement sometime next year). But yeah, I want to be sure that’s the right one before I make my pretty worksheet.


Alana Margaret December 22, 2011 at 9:27 pm

My 2011 word was “Choices”, which I’m pretty sure I pretty well embodied. So well in fact, that I’m choosing “Stability” for 2012. A little less keeping EVERYTHING on the table. A little more calming the eff down.

I wrote all my buckets and goals in notepad because I was using my iPad on the train (train time is now productive time!) and I was really excited to put it all in the pretty pretty template instead. Yay pretty templates!


Jessie December 22, 2011 at 9:32 pm

I blogged about my list here: http://fabbricantidisogni.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/its-my-birthday/
And I’m going to be keeping track of it on my blog (and in my pretty letterpress notebook); hopefully that’ll make me more likely to stick to it.


Molly December 23, 2011 at 11:02 am

I <3 GOALS! Thank you for sharing this awesome laid out plan!


Lanette December 23, 2011 at 8:29 pm

2012 word: Choice

I believe we always have a choice. Even when we feel we don’t, we can choose how we react to what we’re given and the things and situations we face. My goal is to be conscious of this fact through 2012.

My goals are coming along, but aren’t quite ready. Love the template…just finishing customizing.


Nicole Armos December 25, 2011 at 11:25 pm

I just bumped into this as we share our name and your blog caught my eye….I’m usually horrendously averese to goals and structure and action plans, but I had a phrase for 2012 already in mind (Give don’t take) so I decided to try this out and see where it would take me….and it took me to an action plan for 2012 that I think I can actually live with! It breaks it down so things aren’t daunting.
Super amazing, and thankyou!


Jenna December 26, 2011 at 12:26 am

My 2012 word is “Healthy”. I chose this word because I feel that there are a lot of areas of my life where I am unhealthy and it’s affecting my overall happiness. I want to be physically healthy, spiritually healthy, emotionally healthy; healthy in my passions, my dreams, my ambitions, and so on. I want to strive to feel energetic, happy, and fulfilled – all of which require feeling healthy in the various areas of my life. I’ll manifest healthiness by planning and taking deliberate steps toward health-related goals in various areas of my life: physical health, spiritual health, emotional health; each of which will have their own sub-categories, of course: eating, exercise, writing, sex, etc. :) LOVE all the planning as usual, lady! Can’t wait to share more of my goals with you.


Ashley December 27, 2011 at 3:49 pm

So I have my own crazy system that would probably frighten some people, but it brings me such delight to discover that other people are as crazy as me! Pretty sure we own 2012.


Megan Cassidy December 28, 2011 at 9:43 am

I love this with a capital L. Thanks for building and sharing.

My 2012 word is confidence. I’m at the point where I’ve accomplished a lot, but I’m not the best at giving myself credit. I’m going to try and get better at that in 2012…approaching every challenge and opportunity with sass, swagger and a sense of self. I know I can do it, now I just HAVE to.


Liz December 28, 2011 at 10:41 am

I don’t usually set New Year Resolitions because to me, my new year is my birthday. But I don’t feel like waiting until late April. So I’ll try this. My 2012 word is passion. And not that kind of passion (though I wouldn’t say no to that). Every day I go to work. I come home and run. I make dinner. And then I waste hours on the internet or tv. I need to find things that I’m passionate about and find a way to include them in my everyday life


Chelsea December 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm

This is so incredibly amazing. thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing! Nothing pleases my obsessive, organization-loving heart more than detailed schedules and lists and plans; I am giddy right now. I had pretty much given up the idea of New Year’s resolutions because I never, ever stick to them, but this is so much more practical and manageable and less discouraging.

My word for 2012 will either be create or conquer. I can’t decide, they both seem equally important. Perhaps it will be a phrase instead: create and conquer. I want to create stories I can actually feel proud of and find published homes for, and I also want to create a specific writing space that I can draw inspiration from and feel invigorated in, and I want to learn to bake and possibly to knit, which can also fall under the ‘create’ heading. Conquer is for all the fears and anxieties I battle that keep me from doing and saying so many things I desperately want to, which is something I just keep pushing aside and telling myself I can live with. But I shouldn’t have to live with it. Time for change.

I feel so inspired by this post and the template. Beyond excited for the new year. Thank you, again!


energynotsaved December 29, 2011 at 5:51 am

I sat in the San Francisco airport on Christmas Day and completed my draft. I’ve spent time since rethinking and refining it. A few minutes ago, I completed, printed, and hung on the frig my beautiful new goal chart.

Thanks for sharing this method. It really appeals to me and will help me, someone who does well with lists, keep on track.


Sally December 29, 2011 at 9:35 am

So I read this when you first posted and I thought you were out of your freaking mind. I’ve had the hardest year of my life and been in a severe depression and the number of steps involved here was overwhelming. But… I’ve since been thinking about my goals to get my life back on track (along with a recent visit to the doctor) and I came back to your post this morning and it didn’t seem so hard. In 30 minutes, I knew my word, my life buckets, and my goals for each. I realized, I had all these thoughts in my head already, I just needed to sit down and organize my thoughts and your system worked really well for me. So thank you.

My word is “healthy” in every sense. My life buckets include Skiing/Biking, Writing, Food, and my House. There are a few big goals on here that I hope to achieve but know might not happen, and there are realistic things that I just needed to actually realize were goals.

Oh… and having had such a tough year, it was hard at first to come up with any Eff Yeahs because the Eff No list is so overwhelming. But I did come up with some items and it definitely improved my rough morning.


Samantha December 31, 2011 at 8:37 am

I love your list and your template! Thanks so much for sharing!


Samantha December 31, 2011 at 8:43 am

Oh and my word is ‘Inner Power’
Some of my buckets are:
Meditation, Self Care, Exercise, Best Friend; Skype with my friends and family at least once a month, Make 3x more money then I spend, Live comfortably in nature; For that one of my goals is to live in the Spanish or French countryside for six months housesitting


Amanda December 31, 2011 at 9:05 am

I pretty much stole all of this to write my latest blog post, so thanks! My 2012 word is Element stolen from Ken Robinson’s book “The Element,” which is excellent. Its all about finding the intersection of what you are good at and what you are passionate about, which sounds like a pretty excellent goal for a year.


Laurie January 1, 2012 at 11:30 am

I love your template and thanks for sharing! I’m finishing graduate school this year and (hopefully) moving on to the next era of my life, so my word for 2012 is “Opportunities”. A couple of my buckets are Travel, Getting Involved, Showing Appreciation. This year I want to take the time to thank those that have helped me get to this point, and really take advantage of this new beginning in my life. Best of luck to everyone with their resolutions!


laurenne January 3, 2012 at 2:38 pm

YAY! I do something like this, but you are way more organized!
My word is Authenticity. And I just have one main goal: To make sure everything I do and say comes from an authentic place. So far so good. Been really honest these first two days!

Love to you in the newest of years.


Ashalah January 8, 2012 at 10:16 pm

A little late joining in but I LOVE this. So much. My word this year? Action. Taking the necessary steps to get a life I love, traveling more and figuring out what I want to do with my life. thanks for sharing your goal setting awesomeness!


Shirley January 14, 2012 at 6:50 pm

I am a little late but it was super easy to use this idea and template. I make vision boards which are mostly pictures. This helped me outline all the small steps to make all those things come true! Thank you for sharing


Kay February 6, 2012 at 7:19 am

I did every step you mentioned, and I have a pretty fucking snazzy list!
My word is believe. This year my fiance is coming to Australia from the US to marry me and we’re applying for a permanent VISA for him, and we’re believing that after the wedding, the $3000 application and proving to the government that we are really in love and really want to stay together forever, that he will be able to live here despite Australian Immigrations usual reputation of “computer says no”. I also believe that I’m going to be a sponge during my first year (at 23, oh well) of Uni study, and I’m going to learn everything and love every minute and stay on top of my assignments. I’m going to believe in myself and the universe and that everything is supposed to happen and I’m going to learn from it all.
My buckets involve a whole bunch but these are the most importan to me. Learning to make sustainable recipes for my fiance/husband to add to our eventual goal of living a permaculture style life together, making quality time to give to him every week when he lives here, making quality over quantity in work food and play, helping fiance/husband build a food forest in my (currently) dismal backyard, and taking excellent care of my pets now that my mother and her fiance are moving out of this house and leaving everything up to me.
I’m hoping to document my success on Tumblr, another goal is to blog better and less. Here’s hoping, I’ve got a lot to do but at least I know there’s a light at the end, and after this I’m going to e-mail my whole word document to the fiance so he’s on board with me. We support each-other through everything, and I’m very blessed to have found someone like him.
Wish me luck, oh and if anyone has tumblr and is interested I’d love to follow you and see what you’re doing too :)


Leigh March 3, 2012 at 12:19 pm

I’ve been using your template & I have to say it makes me ridiculously happy. I did add an extra step in the process. I set up my goals for 2012 – yay, big picture! I recently started looking at the year in 4 month chunks to see what I hope to accomplish by the end of April. {Why 4 months instead of quarters? ‘Cause it’s March and I need a little more time! Plus my biz cycles every 4 months so I’ve gotten into that habit.} Then I’m breaking that down into monthly tasks.

I’ve got 8 buckets (24 goals) and I’m in process on six goals (one per bucket for six buckets). I’m feeling pretty confident about my annual goals, which is rare. I usually brainstorm ‘em then don’t do anything proactive. So yeah, this is much better!

Thank you for explaining your process and making the template available! xo.


erin @WELL in L.A. April 9, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Love this. All of this! I don’t have an over-arching life list, but I do make a list monthly and annually aptly titled *GSD (Get Shit Done). My mid-twenties were a big swerve from the life ‘game plan’. Moving to L.A. wasn’t on the list. C’est la vie. Pretty incredible things have happened as I learned to let go of my master list.

I’ve become a Los-Angeles hippie who’s learning how to “manifest” from her new spiritual-guru friends. It’s like a Type A personality morphing into a Type… Hippie?


Genevieve March 27, 2013 at 2:14 am

Nicole! I cannot get off your website, you have really inspired me and I love your no bullshit approach. Your ideas and unique and creative and I have a feeling they are going to stick with me! Thanks a bunch – PS. Your e-book was awesome and EXACTLY what I needed.

Some of my buckets are writing, travelling and learning. Thanks a million!


Harpreet August 1, 2013 at 3:05 am

I love this post! People say I have OCD, have enough stationery to open a store, etc, etc – and I am so glad that I stumbled on this blog! LOVE it and love that there are people out there like me! Yay! Thank you thank you thank you for sharing!


Heather September 21, 2013 at 5:25 am

Ha. Focus.

That would be the word every year.

Followed by sub-words along the lines of commitment, honesty, stop-looking-at-that-shiny-thing-over-there, did-you-seriously-just-pack-up-and-move-to-another-state, and maybe chill.


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