Trying to set goals for the year ahead but struggling to know where to start or how to fully commit to them? You might like the My Shining Year Life Workbook, by Leonie Dawson. The series has been running for 10 years, gaining popularity around the world thanks to its helpful prompt questions and gorgeous illustrations. We spoke to Leonie about her secrets for new year goal setting…

What’s the secret to planning a brilliant year?

Research shows that 80% of people don’t set goals, 16% think of goals, 3% write down their goals and just 1% write down their goals AND regularly review them. And it is that 1% that sees the highest amount of success in all areas of life: from career to health to relationships. Not many people take the time to set their goals – they just hope life will miraculously take them there. The time spent in dreaming up and planning your year ahead can make all the difference. Setting goals is building a sail for your boat so you get to set the direction for where life will take you, instead of being buffeted about by the waves and tides.

Your workbooks tend to divide life into different elements – why is this important? Which areas are often overlooked?

When people usually think of goals, they think of maybe 1-3 goals. Usually generic ones like: lose weight, stop addictive or damaging behaviours, reduce debt or earn more money. Basically, it’s crisis management goal setting – only setting goals for the places that are most negatively impacting them. The workbooks instead take you through a guided process of looking at every area of your life instead of just the ones that are on fire. Most people neglect to set goals for their families, relationships, self care, home, time management, creativity and so much more. It’s the holistic approach to goal setting that means you’re not just putting fires out, you’re actively building a delicious dream life that fits you.

How can we set realistic goals?

Be specific with your goals. Instead of writing “I want to spend less time on my phone”, get clear on what that looks like for you. A better goal would be “Reduce my phone time to 1 hour a day.” Once you are specific, then you can get into brainstorming mode. How are you going to reduce your phone time? You could set time locks on your phone. You could start carrying a book in your bag. You could have a phone screensaver that reminds you of your goal. You could look at when you use your phone, and find another activity to replace it instead. The same is true for every goal. Get specific, and then get brainstorming. Layer in levels of support so you can help yourself get there.

Why do people tend to lose focus after January?

Culturally, we only talk about goals around January. New Year’s resolutions are the closest we come to having a widespread conversation about our dreams and intentions. After that, we can fall back into our old habits because we didn’t set specific goals (or any goals at all!), we didn’t brainstorm how we could achieve it, and we don’t surround ourselves with other goal getters. It’s why in my workbooks there are monthly worksheets to fill in to keep you on track throughout the year. And a large 18,000-member Facebook group for people using the workbooks so we can connect and stay motivated.

How have the workbooks helped you?

The workbooks were originally created in 2009 as a gift to myself when I was pregnant with my first child. I knew goals were important, but I didn’t want to set them in a dull black and white, masculine kind of way. I wanted creativity! Rainbows! Unicorns! Lovely guided questions! So I did, and as an afterthought, I put it on the internet. Since then 350,000 people worldwide have used the goals workbooks with huge results. It makes my heart so happy. For me personally, my workbooks have helped me birth so many miracles in the world: we’ve been able to live our dreams of quitting our jobs to raise our children and travel around Australia for the last 8 years. I’ve been more creative and productive than ever, won business awards, broken a world record, built serial 7 figure companies, deepened my marriage and continued growing into the biggest, brightest version of myself. That’s the power of goals. Know what you want and you too can create miracles.