By Lauren Panepinto

Welcome to 2016 everybody! I was really thrilled that so many people posted pics of the fruits of their goal exercise from my last post. Remember, you can remake these lists as many times as you want during the year. Some people are scared to write things like goals down, as if it’s locking them into a course they can’t change. But you actually want your goals to change over the year, or at least reshuffle, as you start achieving some goals and the others shift around.

One piece of feedback I’ve gotten from people trying this exercise has been that they have too many goals, and feel completely overwhelmed. Or most commonly, they’re having trouble prioritizing. You want all the things right? Well, prioritizing is critical, so you have to power through. (And again, you can change this up any time if it’s not working out for you.) The truth of the matter is, all us humans will overestimate what we can achieve in a certain period of time, and not take into account the things that pop in when life gets in the way. So it’s absolutely critical we put the most important goals on the top of the list and work down – because let’s face it, no one is going to achieve their whole list.

So here’s a trick I use both to trim down and to prioritize my goals:

I found this grid in a book on relationships, and it works fabulously well for the friendly, romantic, and familial kind. I really wish I remembered what book I got it from (if you know, put it in the comments) because it’s a great shorthand for what to keep in your life. And it works for just about everything, not just relationships.

So the lower left is pretty obvious, right? If whatever you’re judging is not healthy and not fun, then what the hell are you doing it for? Stop it! Change something, quick! Sometimes we all get stuck in situations like that but I’m sure most people don’t make goals that land in the quadrant, so let’s move on.

The real sneaky spots are the “Fun but Not Healthy” and “Healthy but Not Fun” sections in the middle. A lot of goals and plans will fall into these quadrants. Let’s start by saying prioritize any of your green goals and plans above any of the “FbNH and HbNF” ones. And then look at your goals in that middle area, and I bet you can do better. I bet you can rewrite the goals and plans into the green.

Example: Getting in better shape is a big goal this time of year – some of us (raises hand) fell off our gym routines over the holiday crunch and need to get back in the routine – or start a healthy new routine. Working out usually falls in the “Healthy but Not Fun” category. But if you can think of a way to make it green, then it’s going to be a lot easier to achieve. Personally, my way to do that was get out of the treadmill zone of the gym and over to the weights and boxing equipment.

Art Example: What if your goal is getting better at networking, but you’re really uncomfortable in social situations where you feel awkward selling yourself. Right now this is a “Healthy but Not Fun” goal. Instead, maybe your goal should be to attend (or even start) a local drink-and-draw. You’ll get more comfortable talking to other artists, but in a lower-impact/more fun setting. And then you can level up those skills to bigger events as the year goes on.

Another Art Example: Many artists want to work in more sketching time. This of course is fun and healthy (as any practicing is healthy) but can you really supercharge this goal? Maybe you pick a theme to your daily art practice. Maybe you build a personal project you want to do piece by piece and day by day, and at the end of the year you don’t only have all that practice under your belt – you have a personal project you can use for self-promo or even crowdfunding.

You can upgrade a lot of your goals and plans that land in that mediocre middle ground. Some you won’t be able to, but those should land under the green goals in the prioritization.

Good Luck! And remember – keep these lists somewhere you will see them often. If you rewrite them, save the old versions too. This time next year it will be invaluable to have those lists and be able to look back on everything you achieved in 2016.