Focus on the Forest, Not Just the Tree: 2023 Goal-Setting Guide

As we set into the new year, it is a great time to reflect and set goals for 2023. Traditionally, career and financial wellbeing and health is where most people set goals.

For 2023, evaluate different categories of your life and set goals and visions for each area. Often, we get so focused on one area that we forget our “why.” Here are some different categories to consider:

  1. Health and fitness
  2. Career
  3. Financial
  4. Relationships
  5. Friendships and social life
  6. Family and parenting
  7. Emotional wellbeing and professional and personal development 
  8. Spirituality and religion 
  9. Quality of life and hobbies 
  10. Personality and character

In each area, reflect upon these factors:

  1. WHAT is your vision for an ideal life?
  2. WHY do you want this?
  3. HOW can this produce big impact over time?
  4. WHO can help/mentor you towards these goals?

We will take the first category, health and fitness, as an example.

  • First, on a scale of 1-10, reflect upon where you are and what your vision is. It can be to lose weight, or be more toned, sleep better etc.
  • Decide why you want to prioritize health. Some reasons may be to live a long, healthy life, have more energy, be there for your family/kids etc.
  • Focus on how you will achieve this. Set micro-actions like scheduling annual visits with your PCP, going to the gym 3x/week, drinking more water, etc.
  • Identify who can help you, whether it’s a family member or a personal trainer who can keep you accountable at the inevitable times when life and schedule get in the way.

Another often ignored category is emotional well-being.

  • Reflect on a scale on 1-10 where you are and what feeling you are trying to cultivate, whether that is more peace, happiness, or fulfillment.
  • Determine why you want to feel this way. Reasons could be to show up as a better parent, spouse, colleague, etc.
  • Decide how you will achieve it. Take micro-actions like meditating, journaling, exercising 3-4X/week, anything that will help maximize the effort.
  • Then decide who will help – maybe a meditation app, yoga teacher, friend or a therapist.

Improvement in any one category has a great impact on all other categories since each of them are related. Improvement in one will positively reflect on the other areas. A holistic life vision helps us bring our best selves to our family and work and most importantly for ourselves and in turn helps us live a more intentional and fulfilled life. 


This article was written by Pooja Sethi, MD, MBA, FACC, associate professor of cardiology and Director of Advanced Cardiac Imaging at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

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