December 21, 2020

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably a huge fan of New Years. And although NYE can feel a little bittersweet (that Auld Lang Syne song is such a tear-jerker!), I am obsessed with the idea of fresh starts. So there’s truly nothing better than waking up on January 1st as a new woman, with a brand spankin’ new chance to change some things. I didn’t always feel this way. (And maybe you don’t either.) After years of trial and error, I finally landed on my own secret to goal-setting; and it comes in the form of a goal setting and reflection script. And PS, this can be implemented anytime you want to set new goals, not just in December! In fact, I use these same strategies at the end of each month and quarter to make sure I’m on track.

Here’s the tea. It’s virtually impossible to embark on a new habit, major life change, or new project/idea without first taking stock of where you’re already at. From there, you can eliminate the things that aren’t working for you, see where you can save some energy, make room for new ideas, and create new goals based on intention.

So without further ado, here’s my end-of-the-year reflection script. Simply put, my reflection script is a list of questions pertaining to all the different areas of my life. Once I have the answers to my questions written down, I look at each section 1-by-1, and connect the dots to see where I can improve, eliminate, or grow.

Go grab your favorite journal and pen, cuz it’s about to get REFLECTIVE up in here.

Goal Setting and Reflection: Life, Health and the Pursuit of Happiness

If I had a dollar for every time I started a new year, quarter, or month with a new diet gameplan, got all hyped up for the first two days, and then binged on fast food, ice cream, and beer the next day, I’d have about… oh, a MILLION dollars. If this sounds familiar to you, I want to be very clear: when we’re talking about a life and health review, this is *not* what I mean.

Think back on the past year. What were some of your favorite moments? Who did you spend the most time laughing with? When not scrolling or comparing yourself to models on IG, did you feel good in your body? What was the most fun you had? Were there any cool serendipity moments? When looking back, what life events felt the most memorable?

Finances + Numbers

I know, I know. This is no one’s favorite category to reflect on. But like every personal finance queen I follow on IG says, you cannot create budgets or money goals without looking at your current situation.

If you use a software to track your money, go through it. (And if you don’t, I’m sure your banking app will do just the trick.) Where did your money come from this year? Where did your money go? Do you have loans, and if so, do you have a plan for them? What do your budgets look like? Where could you be spending less and investing more (whether that’s in education, retirement, stocks, etc.)?

It’s totally okay to not have answers to some of these questions. Simply asking the questions and confronting yourself with the answers (or lack thereof) is a great start.

Career and Business

Another fan-favorite topic! (That’s sarcasm.) Like finances, the career and/or business category can be just as triggering as the finances category. As someone who surrounds herself with entrepreneurs and artists, TRUST ME when I say that I know how anxiety-inducing this one can be.

Look back on your year at work or in business. What were the highlights? What do you wish you had more of? What are your favorite parts of your job and your least favorite parts of your job? Also, if it’s relevant to you, think about workflow; on the days where you were most productive and loving life, what was your schedule like? What time did you get started? How long were your breaks? Are there ways you could rearrange your schedule to account for that working style?


This is a new category for me, but I am OH SO EXCITED to implement it. This year, inspired by my dear friend Carly Valancy (founder of the Reach Out Party), I started reaching out to one new person every single weekday. And long story short, by doing so, my life made a 180 — I went from unemployed actor and restaurant employee to booked-out web designer and digital content creator.

So, in that spirit, this reflection category is all about connection. Who did you connect with this year that you want to keep in touch with and build a further relationship with? Did you make any new friends? Collaborators? Mentors?

And this one’s actually a two-parter. If you’re feeling ambitious like me, open up your IG or FB account, and scroll through your followers and friends. Is there anyone on there that you’re curious about, haven’t talked to in a while, or super duper inspired by? Write their name down and write yourself a note to reach out to them in 2021 and let them know that what they’re doing is exciting to you.


Finally, we all have a wildcard category. For me, it’s my arts career; while it’s an extremely important part of my life, it’s harder to *measure* in the same way I’m able to measure my business or finances. For you, it might be a creative project you have, a hobby, an organization you run… the list is endless!

Depending on your wildcard category, you may need to alter these questions or swap them out for some of the questions above. What was your favorite part about your wildcard category this year? What was the best experience you had? What would you like to see more of?

How to actually use these goal setting and reflection scripts to your advantage?

You did it! You did the hard part! The emotional labor that goes into making those lists is no small feat, so I applaud you. But now what?

Here’s what I like to do. Distill your answers from each category down to 2 statements: “I loved this, this, and this…”, and “I didn’t love this, this, and this.”

For example. For me, in the business category, mine goes as follows: I loved designing websites, talking on podcasts, connecting with new people, hitting that perfect design on the first try, getting in the flow and knocking out 4 pages of a website in one sitting, waking up at 6am to work creatively in the dark, and growing a business from nothing to something. I didn’t love having unnecessary zoom meetings, creating content every day (as opposed to batching it out), and having a hamster-wheel-like-to-do-list that kept me up at night.

Doing a goal setting and reflection script (or your own version of one) can be daunting and emotionally taxing. But once it’s done, I promise you’ll feel a million pounds lighter and excited for the better versions of you to come.

Is there anything better?

Hi, I'm Sarah Kleist.

Brand & web designer, personal brand strategist, and marketing educator obsessed with the power of connecting with audiences.



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