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  • Writer's pictureNatasha Patiño

New Year, New You!!! How to Set Realistic Goals for 2022

Hi everyone, Natasha here again with the final post for 2021!!

The past few months have been crazy for me, personally, so I thought what better way to end the year with writing out a list of goals for 2022, since I plan to do this for myself as well!! Today’s blog is about an insightful activity I often do with my clients, every few months to check in and see how they are doing with their treatment, what the next goals are, and it usually (hopefully) shows the progress they have made. It’s eye-opening and helps with breaking goals down to small steps.


Let’s get straight to it! If you can, either print this picture (Microsoft Word - Coaching Wheel.docx ( or just draw it out on a piece of paper as we go through this. It’s helpful if you color it with one color, so if you do this again in a couple of months, you can use a different color to compare.

This worksheet, the “Life Satisfaction Wheel,” is a snapshot of how you see your life at this moment. Every person’s wheel is different, so try not to compare yours to others. This wheel is broken down into 8 areas, all are equally important areas of our lives, and need to be tended to. To complete this activity, I broke it down to three easy steps:


Below, I have written out a brief description of each category. After reading each category, color it in starting from the center to the outside of how satisfied you are with each one. If you are not satisfied at all, then you would not color anything at all since it’s a zero. If you are a little satisfied, you can color a little less than half that section. Coloring it in full (a 10) means you are very happy with how it’s going. Let’s get started!!


1.) Fun & Recreation: This one is about how happy are you with doing fun and entertaining things. This would include hobbies, personal interests, social life, and how often you see friends and family. Ask yourself: Am I happy with how I spend my free time?

2.) Physical (Home)Environment: This one is about how happy you are with your physical dwelling space, where you live and work. Ask yourself: Do I like where I live, who I live with, my neighborhood, etc.?

3.) Career/School: This one is if you are happy with how you career (or school) is going. Ask yourself: Am I happy with my position and what I have accomplished? For school, am I happy with what I am studying, my grades?

4.) Money: This is about your financial satisfaction. It’s not about how MUCH money you have, but how happy you are with what you have. One could not have a lot of money but have all they need and are happy with it, versus someone who is well-off yet still is not satisfied with what they have. Ask yourself: Am I happy with my financial situation?

5.) Health: This can mean your physical and/or mental health so you can split this one in two, if you want to differentiate these. This is about how satisfied you are with your health. Ask yourself: Overall, am I happy with my health?

6.) Friends and Family: This one you can also split into two, if you want to do these separately. This is how happy are you with your relationships overall with your friends and/or family. Ask yourself: Am I happy with how things are with my family/friends?

7.) Romance/Significant Other: This is how happy you are with your partner and that relationship. Ask yourself: Am I happy with how things are going with my partner?

8.) Personal Growth: We are always growing, so this one is about how satisfied you are with yourself. Ask yourself: Am I happy with the person I am today overall?


Now that we have identified how satisfied

we are with each category, please take a few moments to see how your wheel overall looks. Obviously, we want it to be more full, not emptier. Look to see which ones highest, and which ones are lowest. If you’re with a friend, talk about why you think it’s this way.

After you’ve done this, let’s get to the next important step of setting the goals. Often, we make the mistake of making unrealistic or vague goals, so we can get discouraged and/or not see the progress. We need to have specific, realistic, and more short-term goals that can help with motivation and feeling more productive. Here are some examples of what I mean with the NOT-so-good goals:

Unrealistic Goals:

- “Work out 7 days of the week” ……. (That’s so hard, so if you don’t meet this goal, it’s discouraging)

- “Stop drinking sodas all at once” (after you have been drinking 4 a day) …. (Good luck, this is just not realistic, plus imagine the withdrawals).

- “Write a novel within one month” …… (that’s a lot of pressure!)

Vague Goals:

- “Be healthier!” ………. (So, what does that mean?! I drank 2 sodas instead of 4, does that mean I’m healthier?)

- “Work out!” ……… (Does working out once a month count for ‘working out?’)

- “Be social!” ……… (So does making small talk with the cashier count?!)

Realistic/Specific/Short-term GOOD Goals

Here is a list of goals you can use for the categories. BUT, only set goals for your two lowest categories. We are NOT going to do all of them, because that will be overwhelming to work on and will sabotage this activity. It’s too much too soon. Let’s focus on two categories for now, and when that’s improved you can then set goals for other categories. Here is a list of more realistic goals:

- Join running club that meets twice a week.

- Go to the gym three times a week.

- Drink no more than two sodas a day.

- Walk away when angry, before I say something I regret to partner.

- Start therapy to work on anger management.

- Take class for certification in ____, to advance one’s career.


This may not seem like a step, but in my opinion it’s the most important one. We can rate our satisfaction on the wheel, we can write really good goals, but it’s critical that we respect the process. What does this mean?! Well, let me talk about a coach that can often be heard talking about the importance of this.

Most anyone around here knows University of Alabama’s football Coach Nick Saban. And even if you’re not an Alabama fan, you have to admit that he is a really amazing coach that has done a great job with his team. He is one of only two coaches to win an SEC (Southeastern Conference) Championship at two different schools and is considered by many to be the greatest coach in college football history. When you watch his team, you can see how strong of a team they are. I am mentioning this, because he often talks about “the process,” and how this has been a major, if not the most, important factor in making his team so successful. The idea behind this, is understanding the importance of focusing on one thing at a time and strengthening that skill, versus focusing on the end result. He says…

“Ignore the scoreboard. Don’t worry about winning. Just focus on doing your job at the highest level every single play, and the wins will follow”- Alabama Coach Nick Saban

We often find ourselves pushing to get to the finish line, getting the win, which can often result in our failure. How this relates to this activity and New Year’s Resolutions, is when doing your goals for the wheel, focus on doing the short-term goals you wrote out, to ‘fill up’ your wheel versus looking for the long-term results. To hear it from him about the process, take a few minutes to watch this short YouTube video of him (Saban on the Process. - YouTube).

So, if your long-term goal is to lose weight, focus on your short-term goal of carrying that big bottle of water around with you to drink versus being fixated on the pounds you still have to lose. Instead of focusing on having better communication with your partner (vague goal), focus on walking away when angry before you say something you regret. Instead of focusing on having higher self-esteem (long-term goal), focus on doing your affirmations every morning. These are examples of respecting the process, which in turn, like Saban’s team, will help you with the wins.

Now you have this great tool that a lot of us therapists use, I hope you and your loved ones can take some time to do this together. This can help to hold each other accountable because remember we are all in this together, each other’s companions in healing!

Until next time,


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