Ever since getting married, Kyle and I have always prioritized setting goals, especially at the start of the year. A year provides a finite timeline to accomplish something, resets your focus and allows you to be intentional in all areas of your life.

Over the years we have refined our approach – and I’m going to share what works well for us when setting goals, picking a theme and more.

First – before sitting down with your spouse (or sitting yourself down if you are single), get yourself in a fresh environment. We have never done this in our house – we always go to a bright, airy coffee shop or restaurant (with wifi). It’s worth getting a sitter for, I promise! Sometimes as a part of this date, we stop by a Barnes and Noble or stationary store and get ourselves a new, fresh journal for the year. Something refreshing about a clean journal! And this is what we use to document our goals, etc.


Picking a theme for the year is not something we take lightly. We begin praying about this individually leading up to this time, sometimes weeks in advance. Honestly, we just ask God to show us what He has for us in the next year, what our focus should be etc. Sometimes it’s clear and makes perfect sense, other years the word or phrase seems odd and clunky. But I can say confidently, at the end of each year when we reflect on the past year, it always makes perfect sense.

On our little date we discuss what the Lord has brought to us – and so far, it has always been a joint theme for our family. With that said, there is no reason why you shouldn’t each have your own theme – we have just always had one for our family as a whole. We write this theme down on the first page of our journals as a reminder throughout the year.


Next we discuss goals we want to set for the year. Personal goals, financial goals, professional goals and goals for our family (these are more like a bucket list). There are two types of goals we set individually, personal and professional. Personal goals may be something like “working out 5+ days a week”. Professional goals are tied to our careers – so it could be something like “listening to 1 career developing podcast a week”. Financial goals are always jointly – like “give x% to a x ministry or nonprofit”, or “have $x in savings”. And family goals, as I mentioned, are typically more like a bucket list. Last year we set a goal to do “one family vacation, just the 4 of us”.

We write all of these on the second page of our journal, also as a reminder throughout the year.


Next, we write down specific prayers we are asking God for in the next year. We do this on the third page of our journals. This can be for a healing of a family member or friend, for a breakthrough, anything. There is nothing too big or too small! We write these down and as God answers them throughout the year – we go back to this page and put a check mark next to it, and the date God answered this prayer. It’s amazing to see tangibly how faithful He is – and a good reminder throughout the year (it’s amazing how quickly we forget the prayers He answers).


On the fourth page we write down the 31 virtues. This is something our Lead Pastor mentioned last January – and I’m so glad we did this. It’s 31 virtues – one for each day of the month. So at the end of my quiet time each day, I pray whatever day of the week it is, that virtue over our family (i.e., if it’s January 12th, and the #12 virtue is self-discipline, I pray that over our family). You can find the 31 virtues on my Pinterest page.

Lastly, we make sure to bring last year’s (or the current year’s) journal and reflect on the prior year. We look at all the prayers God answered, the goals we achieve, and honestly it always brings tears to our eyes to see the Lord’s overwhelming goodness and faithfulness. It is the best way to bookend a year, and start the next one fresh, faith-filled and focused.

I hope this was helpful for you – again, this is just what works for our family. I hope you have a wonderful time reflecting on the year past, and getting excited for all God has for you in the next! Happy New Year.


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