Goal Setting Made Simple


Writing down goals is not something at which I’m good.  In fact, the concept of goals is a bit bewildering for me.  That might sound strange coming from someone who has kept her doors open for nine years somewhat successfully and has two children who are still alive at 11 and 13, but it’s true.  They confuse me.  They seem arbitrary and not bound by real data.  More like a wish than anything attainable.

Generally, I start every year with a list of things I want to accomplish – lose weight, be healthier, increase sales, remember to hang up my coat instead of throwing it over the chair – and every year they wither away replaced by something else that either happens organically or is thrust upon me.  This year I’m setting out to change that.  This year I’m going to set goals and achieve them.  Here is what my research tells me…

You only need a few goals.  We can’t work on more than five to seven things at any time, so don’t over stretch.  Mini-goals under big goals don’t work, so don’t add them.

Make them SMART.  I’m sure you have heard of this acronym from all the experts.  Here is what they mean.

  Specific – make sure your goal is as clear as you can make it.  Organize the house is not specific enough, but edit the master closet, install new shelves, and color code the items is.

  Measurable – put a number to it, otherwise how will you know if you met your goal?  Increase sales is not measurable, but increase sales by 10 percent is.

  Actionable – start each goal with an action verb like build, design, buy as opposed to a to-be verb like am, be, or have.  I will hang up my coat when I walk in the door is actionable where be better at hanging up my coat is not.

  Realistic – this is where you need to be careful and where you can use data or past behavior to set your goal.  I can say my goal is to be a swimsuit model, but   that’s not happenin’.  However, a goal of going to the gym three times a week might get me closer to a bathing suit this year.

  Time-bound – set an end date.  Without an end date it really is just a wish.  For instance, I will paint the house by August 31 is much better than just saying I’m going to paint the house.

Write them down.  This is the key.  When you write something down it becomes real.  I love these cloth journals from Sugar Paper for doing just that.  I have one of each and intend to use them.

Return to them often.  Don’t just write it down and leave it.  You have to come back to them again and again so you can see your progress and so you can stay on track.  Otherwise that bathing suit is waiting until next year and the house never gets painted.

Tell someone.  Not a lot of someones, but a select few of your cheerleaders.  Have them share theirs with you and then each hold the other accountable.  They become squad goals, if you will.

My squad and I are headed to The Lorien for a day-long retreat next month to set this year’s goals.  It never hurts to take a few hours away from the chaos to focus.  Setting goals does not need to be a painful experience, so take time and enjoy.

I wish you luck and much prosperity for the New Year, my friends!

  • The latest from Amy
Owner Amy Rutherford started Red Barn because she wanted to deliver a service — to provide both old and new in one place. No longer will busy shoppers be limited to reproductions or forced to shop multiple flea markets for the look or gifts they want. The trick in blending old and new, vintage and modern, classic and quirky, is balance. And Amy’s knack for mixing rustic antiques with urban chic has created a look that is both fresh and familiar.

Red Barn Mercantile opened its doors in September 2007 with a single vision in mind: providing old and new to offer our customers signature whole-room designs at great prices.

We’re more than a furniture boutique and provide more personalized service than a big box retailer. We work hard to bring you the highest quality furniture and gifts, the most unique conversation starters, wall hangings and accent pieces, whether they come from off-the-beaten-track flea markets, or the latest designers.


1117 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314


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