It’s Time To Declutter Your Goals

It’s that time of the year again. Here in New Hampshire, the days have become pleasant, and the nights have become chilly. Leaves have started turning their color from the deep green to bright yellow, orange, and red. People have decorated there houses with pumpkins and mums. Stores have started selling Halloween costumes. Summer is officially over!

The picturesque nature of autumn is one of the reasons why this is my favorite season. The second reason is that it is the beginning of the last quarter of the year. This is a perfect time to review your progress against the goals you have set at the beginning of the year.

-How am I doing?
-Did I work towards what I wanted?
-Which goals seem to be under control, and which ones need some “repair”?

Most people I know think about taking such inventory in December when all the TV channels and websites start talking about their “Top 10, 20, 30” lists. But here is the deal – it’s too late by then to correct your track. And more often than not, you end up feeling that another year passed by without doing “anything”.

By that time, you would have been merely an observer as your life just passed by you in another year. Now you don’t want that, do you?

Hence today, I am going to share some tips with you on how you can inspect your goals for this year in a new light, tweak them you see fit, and prepare a plan to get to the new goals by the year end.

Let’s get started!

Remember your new year’s resolutions or the goal sheet you may have prepared after reading my post on it or your vision for the year?

Now if you always kept it handy and referred to it periodically throughout the year, you probably know by heart what you were set out to achieve.

But let’s be honest here. You probably forgot you even made that.

Well, It is time to bring it back.

Ready? Now what?

Here is what you need to do.

  1. Go through your goals one by one.
  2. Put them into one of the 3 buckets as follows.
  3. If you are not sure about classification of some goals, leave them aside.
  4. Move on through the list, and return to the undecided goals.
  5. Take as many iterations as you need.
  6. Take the action mentioned with each bucket below for every goal in that bucket.

That’s it! It is easier than you thought, isn’t it?

There is only one caution:
As you go through this process, listen to your instinct. Don’t think too much about what fits where or don’t return to an already decided goal again and again.

Goals are like those sinful desserts. The more you look at them, the more enticing they become. If you start going back and forth, even the most irrelevant goals will start looking important. You will be trapped in indecisiveness.

Now let’s see which are the 3 buckets and the associated actions.

1. Irrelevant goals

Chances are high that you set some goals at the beginning of the year in the excitement of learning or trying something new. But they have become less and less attractive as time passed. There is no shame is accepting that certain goals don’t matter to you as much as you thought they would. Life changes, and so should your priorities.

How to detect
Such goals are easy to detect. They make you feel nostalgic. The thought of not achieving them doesn’t bother you as much. In fact, your reaction to that is usually, “Well, what can you do? Life happens.”

Watch if any of these indicative phrases come to your mind when you think about a goal:

“Oh yeah, it would have been fun to do this.”
“I still remember how I was taken over by a strong desire to get it done, and get it done now!”
“Man, how did this totally slip my mind!”

If you hear these words, you probably had a temporary bug in your mind (or too much alcohol in your body 😉 ) which made you think you really need to put this in your goal sheet.

Remove these goals.

A wise person AKA Manasi Kakade (Thank you, thank you 🙂 ) has said,

“Clutter in our physical space translates into clutter within our emotional space”.

I assure you the same principle applies to your goals. If you clutter your sheet (or your brain) with unnecessary goals, your mind will be too confused to prioritize the goals that really matter. So keep it simple. Remove what isn’t important anymore.

2. Forgotten goals

Not to be confused with the irrelevant goals, this is the category which includes what is still important to you but you have either forgotten it or are not motivated enough to continue working towards it. There can be multiple reasons as to why this happened. These reasons will also dictate your next action for such goals.

How to detect
These are the goals that make you feel sad, embarrassed or defeated when not achieved. For example, weight loss. This is a goal that so many people set at the beginning of the year. They continue eating healthy and exercising for some time. But then their commitment starts fading unlike the weight which refuses to budge.

This is the hardest type of goal to correct. The lethargy in your commitment is for a reason. It takes a lot of discipline to understand the underlying reason and come back on track. Some tips below will be useful.

  • Was the goal realistic? If a goal feels overwhelming, you will be intimidated by it. Don’t allow yourself to be defeated even before you start. To counteract this problem, divide your goal in smaller steps. So for the next 3 months, set your eyes on what seems reasonable. Of course, that doesn’t mean you aim low on your efforts. You should still give it your best shot, just without any burden of expectations. This works like magic! Try it.
  • Did I give up due to a lack of commitment or a lack of motivation? We all need a dose of motivation from time to time. If you don’t get that, you make it only easier for you to give up. Seek such motivation in your favorite blogs, public speakers, authors, and their books. I have a dedicated Pinterest board just to keep me reminded me of what matters to me. Anytime I feel the need of motivation, I go to this board and within a few minutes I come across the words of wisdom I need the most. What is your mechanism to get a healthy dose of motivation when you need it? Share your resources in the comments. It will help us all.
  • Was your lack of commitment due to lack of discipline? There is a difference between thinking and acting. You may be very committed to your goal in your mind, but that doesn’t always translate into your actions. Actions require changes in a behavioral pattern that you had been so used to. This is painful. Who wants to give up an hour of TV time to go to gym?

How do you counteract this? One small action at a time. Instead of shooting for an hour of gym, just start at 15 minutes of walking every day. Keep it up at least for 21 days. That’s the time, scientists say, you need to develop a habit. (By the this year (2016), I heard that number change from 21 to 66 according to some study.) The point is, keep at it. Slowly but surely, you will get into the required discipline.

No matter what the reason was, it is never too late to do the right thing. Set a new goal for the next 3 months and start working towards it today. Tomorrow never comes.

3. Achieved / Achievable goals

The name says it all. These are the goals that you have either already achieved or are on track to do so. Kudos to you!

How to detect
Achieved goals need no test. Those that you think you have under your control are the ones that make you feel happy, confident, and proud. Rather than the fear of uncertainty, you will feel hope and peace of mind when you think of these.


  • Celebrate the already achieved goals. I feel like this is the most underestimated form of motivation. Celebrating your own effort is crucial to taking the ownership of your destiny. If you feel proud to have achieved one goal, you will continue to take charge and decide your own plan of action for the next ones.

But here’s the catch. Celebrate the process which got you there than just the outcome itself.

When we see an accomplished goal, we generally feel great about that outcome and we tend to reflect on our journey. And as you retrospect, you will realize that you have learned something new in the process, you probably developed a new habit or you made some long due choices that you were afraid off. That journey, the discovery of the new you is worth celebrating.

When you ignore to notice your journey, and feel good only about the outcome, you are training yourself to work only for a “reward”. No reward, no work.

You don’t want that to happen because you need to keep the intrinsic motivation alive because that’s what gets you the best results.  That’s why train your mind to celebrate what got you there and you will repeat the behavior.

By the same logic, don’t be shy in celebrating small wins from time to time.

  • For the achievable goals, continue what you are doing because whatever it is, it’s working. Maybe even stretch your limits. Set a new higher goal for yourself for the next 3 months. Analyze what you are doing here that was lacking in other goals. Try to understand the reasons for winning. Then replicate that pattern in the forgotten goals.


What if I do not have a goal sheet?
It’s never too late to find out what YOU really want from your career or life, and how you can get started on that path. Here is a step by step approach for you to get started.

If you are a big picture type of person, create a vision instead of specific goals.

Then start working on it for the next year, but include what you want to achieve by the end of this year. Then just take an action, a small step in the right direction every day. You will be there even before you know it.


No matter where you stand today, the process of revisiting your goals or aspirations will only bring you back on track. If you are already doing well, it will motivate you to keep pushing your boundaries.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are bound to miss the mark every now and then. But what is more important is reminding yourself what really matters to you, distinguishing between what is important and what is frivolous so that you don’t just remain an observer of your life but rather live it.


Finally, be thankful for everything you already have. Just the fact that you are even thinking about goals and a plan to achieve those probably means that your basic needs are taken care of. Be grateful for that, and strive to be the best you can be!

Here’s my question to you:
What are your favorite resources (quotes, blogs, Pinterest boards etc.) to stay motivated? Share in the comments! I am looking forward to reading those. 🙂

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  • You are a extremely positive and bright woman. I will send you site to all of my contact in LinkedIn. When I hear of people who can benefit from your services I will send the link. Take care, and continue with fortitude on your journey.

    • Hello Karen,

      Thank you so much for your kind words, and encouragement! It means a lot coming from somebody I look up to as a strong and inspirational woman. Thank you for spreading the word about my work. If I can help anybody in your network, I will be honored!

      Thank you, thank you!

  • This article gave me a compassionate kick in the butt to recommit to my forgotten goals. The main stumbling block for me seems to be a lack of discipline. I easily get distracted and over give my time to other peoples projects. Part of my distraction and procrastination is related to a sense of intimidation, so reading your article makes me think that I may need to break down my goals to more realistic chunks, so they become “achievable” goals :)))

    • Hello Zsuzsi, Thanks for sharing your feelings. Being overwhelmed by big goals is intimidating at the best and debilitating at the worst. Breaking them into bite sized pieces is definitely the key to success.

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