Penney Murphy & Associates

3 Easy Steps to Make 2018 Your Best Year Yet!

It’s the New Year!  2018 is a blank slate.  You can do, be and have anything you want.  You have the ability to create the life of your dreams … BUT…you’ve heard it all before. 

Like many people, you are probably tired of the roller coaster.  You start off the New Year with high hopes, exciting dreams, and big plans of what you’re going to do, stop doing, or do differently to get you closer to living your ideal life.  However, at the end of the month (possibly sooner) you realize the resolutions you’ve made have fallen by the wayside and nothing has changed.  You start feeling guilty.  You’re hard on yourself.  And … you give up.  Sound familiar? 

I’ve got an exciting proposition for you.  If you’re interested…this year could be different.  I’d love to help you to make 2018 Your Best Year Yet. 

I’m going to share with you some of my insights and suggestions for not only setting but accomplishing goals.  Plus, I’ve created a 3 Step Goal Setting Worksheet for you which you will find included a bit further down on this page.  Click on Page 2 at the bottom of this posting to get the 3 Step Goal Setting Worksheet.  

Penney Murphy & Associates Saskatoon

I am a BIG believer in setting goals.  However, before I start my process of dreaming & planning my New Year goals, I like to take a look back to identify successes from the year before. 

For example, when I look back on my 2017, a few of the successes on the professional front included the addition of more office space at Penney Murphy & Associates which gave us the ability to grow and add 3 more Counsellors to our excellent team.  In our new space, I had a big beautiful boardroom built (this is where I hang out and offer the ‘Managing Stress Like A Pro’ workshops with other workshop topics to be offered through the year).  And I was able to create ‘bella vita’, the private brand of luxurious soaps for stress management & wellness which has been a dream of mine for a long time. 

In terms of personal success in 2017, I lost 15 lbs by embracing the Mediterranean diet/lifestyle and I started exercising.  I am up to an hour a day now.  For someone who has been sedentary for most of my life…this is a big accomplishment. 

After you have identified your successes from last year, it’s very important to consider why you were successful in these endeavors.  What did you do, think, or feel that contributed to your successes?

For me, in terms of the professional successes…it was having a clear vision of what I want to achieve for my ‘Big Picture’, an ability to identify and be open to opportunity, and being willing to take risks.

On the personal front…my motivation for losing weight and starting to exercise quite honestly came out of fear (which is one of the strongest motivators for change).  After my yearly physical, my Doctor noted that while the level of my good cholesterol was very good, my bad cholesterol level was creeping upward.  With heart disease in my family history, this meant that while I’m healthy now, if I do nothing I may very well be setting myself up to have a heart attack or stroke.  Heart disease is the Number 1 cause of death for women. 

My Doctor set up an opportunity for me to attend the Live Well program offered at the Saskatoon Field House.  It was a great 4 hours of learning, an overview on exercising and the chance to spend an hour & a half with a dietician.  I would highly recommend it!  Ask your Doctor about it if you are interested.  What a gift it was for me! 

Now, did I fall off my eating plan a little over Christmas? Sure I did.  But it’s okay.  I’m not about to give up just because I went off track.  I’ve given myself permission to take a break over the holidays. I will remind myself how good I feel when I eat right and exercise…and I am committed to start back on January 2nd.     

Contributing success factors included researching recipes for the Mediterranean diet, having the right food in the house to make meal preparation easy, and making time for exercise by adjusting my daily routine.  I started off doing 10 minutes on the treadmill, and gradually increased the length of time and intensity over a few months to get to the point where I work out an hour a day.  I feel energized, strong and vital…I love this feeling so I’m not about to give this up. 

So, to summarize…for the goal setting pre-process…identify past successes and then think about what you did to be successful.  Goals aren’t accomplished by chance or by luck.  You have to take action.  It doesn’t always have to be BIG action…small steps will get you moving in the right direction too! Remind yourself what you did to reach your goals. 

Next… (and this is where the worksheet will come in handy…Click on Page 2 at the bottom of this post to access the worksheet )…start dreaming! 

Step one is the VISION. 

What will your ideal life look like?  What makes your heart sing.  What do you want to do, be or have in 2018?  Think big!  You can be assured that self doubt will creep in at this point, telling you that you can’t do that or be that.  Please note that this happens to everyone…but don’t let it shut you down.  Just realize it’s part of the process and tell your self doubt to take a hike!  You don’t need to worry about HOW you are going to accomplish your goals at this point…just focus on thinking and dreaming. 

In your worksheet you will see 7 categories for you to consider.  If completing all 7 seem too overwhelming…just complete as many as you are interested in.  This should be a fun and exciting process…not a chore. 

In order for goals to be achieved successfully, you need to be crystal clear on what exactly it is that you want. 

For example, if you want to lose weight…how much weight do you want to lose? 1 lb, 10 lbs, 100 lbs? Over what time period?

Do you want to make more money in 2018? How much money do you want to make?  Be specific.  Set a number and an end date when you will have reached your goal. 

Step Two – The ACTION

Your goals won’t get anywhere without taking action.  Consider what you can do right now that would get you a step closer to your goals in each of the categories.  Concentrate on small actions.  If you can take large actions that’s great too!


Step Three – The OBSTACLES

Yes…there will be obstacles that may prevent you from achieving your goals.  Sometimes the obstacles are other people, or circumstances…or the obstacles can come from within.  Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. 

It’s helpful to identify any & all obstacles that you may face ahead of time.  And then…do some good thinking about what you need to do to overcome those obstacles.  It’s kind of like a strategic plan!  😊

Again, let me remind you that if setting goals and taking action in all 7 categories is daunting or overwhelming, simply focus on the area that is your highest priority. 

You don’t have to move forward on all fronts at the same time…the important thing is that you move forward. 

Keep your list of goals, actions, and obstacles close at hand so that you can check back and identify success.  If you find that you haven’t taken any actions…be gentle with yourself and consider why.  Do you need to do, think, or feel something different? Do you need to rethink your obstacles and come up with ways to overcome them?  Then simply start again. 

To give you an example, here are a couple of my goals for 2018:

Personal Goal:  Read More

First, I have to decide which books I want to read.  Do I want to read 1 book a month, or 6 books over the next year?  I will want to identify specific topics and/or titles that I’m interested in. 

Next, I need to buy the books so that have them in when I’m ready to start. 

In order to be successful, I must carve out time to read.  Am I going to read once a week, or daily? If daily…when exactly can I fit in the time to read?  In the morning before work?  If so, do I need to get up earlier, or change up my existing routine a bit to allow for reading time? 

What obstacles will I face?  Will I be too tired to read? Too busy to read? And finally…what can I do to overcome these obstacles? 

On the Professional front – it’s the biggest goal I’ve ever set for myself.  It is totally out of my comfort zone. 

Do I have it all figured out? Nope. 
Do I know how to do it?  Nope. 
Will I get it right the first time? Unlikely. 
Is it risky? Yup. 
Will I feel overwhelmed at times? Absolutely. 
Will self doubt creep in and tell me I can’t do it? With certainty! 

So, what will I do to ensure that I’m successful? 

I will focus on the end goal and how I will feel when it’s complete.  I get excited just thinking about it now so I will use this as fuel to motivate myself. 

I will allow myself an appropriate time line… a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 18 months. 

When self doubt rears its ugly head…I will remind myself that if others can do it…so can I. 

I will reassure myself that I don’t have to have to know everything to take the first step.  I will figure it out as I go.  I will learn, read, & ask questions.

I will be gentle with myself when I make mistakes and look for the ‘take aways’ (What went wrong? How can I do it differently next time?) that will enhance my learning and my progress. 

You can do it too!

Setting goals isn’t just a passing fad at New Years…it’s actually good for us! 

In addition to Stress, & Success, another area of my specialization and research is Happiness.  There are 12 habits that differentiate consistently happy people from the rest…one of those habits is having goals.  Setting a goal and working towards it gives us a sense of purpose.  It helps us learn and grow personally.  It makes us feel that we are contributing to the betterment of ourselves and/or others.  Having goals and working towards them increases our level of happiness. 

And when all is said and done…isn’t that what we’re all looking for? 

If less stress is one of your New Years’ goals…check out my ‘Managing Stress Like a Pro’ workshop.  I believe there are a few spots left for the Mon Jan 22nd workshop.  Call our office to reserve your spot (306) 242.1010. 

If you’d like some assistance with goal setting or with anything else that your heart desires…we can help!  Life’s too short to be unhappy. 

Wishing you good luck with your goals, and continued success and happiness for 2018.

Be good to yourself and the ones you love.



Penney Murphy
B.A., B.S.W., M.S.W., R.S.W.
President / Owner
Penney Murphy & Associates

Click on Page 2 below for the 3 Step Goal Setting Worksheet 

penney3 Easy Steps to Make 2018 Your Best Year Yet!