Goal Setting for the New Year

When you mark the beginning of something, you want to do it right. For me, I wanted to hone in on how to properly set goals for the year. A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person envisions, plans and commits to achieve. But a goal without a plan is only a dream.

Nobody just drifts into the kind of life they've always wanted. It's attained by first having clarity on what propels you, and then being purposeful of your daily activities. However, there are times when we catch ourselves just coasting aimlessly, desensitized with the dreariness of our days. We forget that we're not mere observers of our lives; instead, we are our own catalyst of change.


In the corporate setting, we have a yearly performance review. It's when we discuss our accomplishments, identify areas where we've exhibited both strengths and even weaknesses to then gather relevant feedback to become better at the job. I know what to expect moving forward by aligning with new goals. It's quite informative to decompress a year's worth of work and see how I'm doing overall.


Then it hit me. I can adapt this routine of annual examination and progress measurement in other areas of life also. Goal-setting should not be confined only to my job. We often neglect the fact that life is multi-faceted. Leadership Mentor Michael Hyatt in his course '5 Days to Your Best Year Ever', pointed out that there are ten domains of life and each one matters.


They are:

SPIRITUAL - Your connection to a higher power

INTELLECTUAL - Your engagement with significant ideas

EMOTIONAL - Your psychological health

PHYSICAL - Your bodily health

MARITAL - Your spouse or significant other

PARENTAL - Your children, if you have any

SOCIAL - Your friends and associates

VOCATIONAL - Your profession

AVOCATIONAL - Your hobbies and pastime

FINANCIAL - Your personal or family finances


When was the last time you sat down to write specific goals for every single one of these areas? Did you go back to review how you fared with it?

Set your goals paper bubbles with clip hanging on the line against purple background.

I broadened my scope of goal-setting and made sure my life is not lop-sided. Now conscious of the entire landscape, I felt as though I'd expanded my territory in crafting my goals and it's been a fascinating process for me. I followed a 'SMARTER' framework from the same course, which stands for:








If I may share a few of my 1st quarter goals:

In the Spiritual Domain:

Read the Bible from cover to cover 10 minutes a day as part of my daily personal devotional routine in the morning between 5-6AM.


In the Emotional & Financial Domains:

Set-up a Command Center in the kitchen by January 31, 2019, to create a system for processing our mail and keeping organized with household paperwork to be on top of all bills and correspondence at all times.


In the Social Domain:

Participate in a Mastermind Group to be held accountable with annual goals and conduct weekly meetings physically or virtually starting January-2019.

I encourage you to think through your goals deeply and write them down. Circle back to them and objectively quantify your progress. Come-up with 7-10 annual goals across all domains. Then focus only on 2-3 goals per quarter. Record your weekly wins and then set your upcoming weekly goals. Create accountability structures to keep you in line throughout the year.


When you do these, you set yourself up for success. Gone are the days when you're passively waiting when your life is going to change. You abort neglecting other areas of your life with imbalanced goals. So be intentional and move the needle to your dreams by giving them a deadline. Make plans and make them happen too!  Move to have well-rounded goals in various domains so that you enjoy the wholeness life has to offer.





Shiela Bernardo is a budget nerd who is keen to stay on track with her family’s financial goals.  She perpetually seeks to demystify how to keep the house clean. She is a business analyst by profession & a self-taught computer programmer. She blogs about family, faith, and finances in her spare time.

Create Space

When busyness fills in our schedules, we just do do do, like machines that don't know how to deviate from the programmed setting. Our depleting attention span makes it a challenge to fitly sift new information. If we're not careful, we give ourselves over to more trivialities that percolate curiosity and take up space mentally.

Many will vie for your mind like prime real estate, exposing it to all forms of hyperstimulation. Then you're suddenly conflicted by so many things, perplexed by what you really want out of your life. Have you ever felt like you're spread too thinly or are involved in so many things at a surface level that you're not really able to commit to one thing? You've hit the apex of unfiltered options and overwhelm.

Author Oliver Burkeman articulates this sense of overwhelm arises from a mismatch – between all the things you’d like to do, or feel you ought to do, and the far smaller quantity of things you’re actually capable of doing. The gap is widening fast.

You need to create space in your life and let it bring in a breeze of fresh air. Give yourself permission to look at things from a fresh perspective. Look at four (4) areas you can create space for.
Create Physical Space
When you want to change your life, it is empowering to know that you can start by changing something small first. Tackle a quick-hitter. Open up your fridge and clear out rotten vegetables, expired bottles of dressings, and moldy leftovers. Make room for something fresh and healthy. Make note that practical efforts can be a springboard to something more profound.
Imagination and discovery concept as a rocky cliff with an opening on top shaped as a human head as a new life metaphor and success motivation symbol with a group of birds flying high in the sky.
Create Mental Space
Mental workings have inconspicuous evidence of change. The transformation happen from the inside out like getting rid of old limiting beliefs and rising above personal boundaries. Assess all the things you're involved in, ones that demand time and energy. Do you do things that give you true joy? As you clear out the distractions, you will be more in-tuned to discover your calling and live out your purpose.
Create Financial Space
If you're overburdened by debt, then there is only black or white of need versus want. Be clear in the efforts required to set and stick to your financial goals. Do not compromise on murky middle ground. No buy-now-pay-later scheme. Save up for purchases and if you don't have the funds, then simply don't buy it. Instead, have room for true emergencies without resorting to borrowing money.
Create Avocational Space
When you're not obligated to do work yet you voluntarily do it in pursuit of your passion or to inject meaningful acts of service, you enter into the paradox of time abundance. Cassie Mogilner's research published in Social Psychology and Personality Science depict that spending time helping others leaves people feeling as if they have more time, not less. This curious effect is explained by subconsciously positioning one to think that their self-efficacy makes time expansive and that more can be accomplished in the future.

Only make room for what matters. You can live out your days intentionally and feel like you're not wasting your time. When you create space, you'll feel light and clear-headed, able to recognize if your action is in parallel to a long-term vision and version of the person you're meant to become.

Engage: How can you make a switch from being overloaded to being intentional? What spaces in your life do you need to work on? Share your thoughts in the comments below.





Shiela Bernardo is a budget nerd who is keen to stay on track with her family’s financial goals.  She perpetually seeks to demystify how to keep the house clean. She is a business analyst by profession & a self-taught computer programmer. She blogs about family, faith, and finances in her spare time.

Stop Getting Distracted

Have you started something that you didn’t finish? They come in many forms like half-baked so-called big ideas, piled-up chore work, daunting projects on hold, and so on. The road that leads to indecision is paved with many works-in-progress. I stared at a dozen unfinished articles and knew that I let them sit undone because I came up with a different idea – a better one. Or so I thought (and thought and thought…)


There’s a disease of distraction that pulls us away from the immediate goal. Psychologists call it Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS). It happens when you chase after new thoughts and things, while never being able first to close the gap of current tasks that stare you on the nose. I hear and see it often in entrepreneurial and creative-types, though this can very well describe anyone.


SOS can also throw a wrench in your financial goals. You’ve planned it all out and calculated the number of payments you have left to pay off a debt. But you see a new opportunity to make money, but not without first shelling out funds to fuel the ember. How about an upgrade to a game-changer, new tech device that triggers another charge on your credit or debit card? You hop on a quick detour and displace your timelines.


When you think you’re just going with the flow of inspiration, it actually diminishes your willpower to finish what is in front of you. It’s a wild goose chase of constant stimuli. It’s hard to tame a mind that wanders off. Met with a lot of options, you induce self-doubt and procrastination.


Sabine Kastner, Professor in Princeton Neuroscience Institute, explains that when we are overwhelmed, the limbic system in our brain drives us to do what feels right, but not necessarily what is right. This sways us to be more impulsive in embracing new ideas we haven’t fully vetted out. How ironic that our brains concede to feeling versus thinking!


Here are 3 ways to combat the SOS villain:

Standardize Your Schedule

Set blocks of time for what your ideal week looks like. A structure is crucial in developing discipline for wise use of your time. This will minimize the number of decisions you need to make and also avoid bouncing around doing random tasks that make you look in so many directions. This schedule does not need to be rigid. You’re the one setting the main activities that imply your priorities. It should include creativity or free-flow segments too.

Jot Down Your Ideas

It’s an energizing mental exercise to be able to go anywhere in your mind, creativity-wise. As ideas prop up, write them all down. You let it simmer and take form when you commit to paper what you’re thinking. It deflects terrible ideas and bust unwise purchases. Keep a notebook with quick notes, bullet outlines, sketches, and the whole gamut of ways to preserve passing thoughts. But devote to develop them in more depth during the time you’ve set above. You will learn a lot about yourself when there are documented reference points at various stages of ripening ideas.

Be Single-minded

One thing at a time gets more done than many things at once.  Multi-tasking is a fallacy. The prescription to your sanity is focusing on the one most important thing. Yes, there’s always more than one thing that’s important; so do it quickly to move on to the next. Stick to it and see it through. Sharpen your focus. Be mindful and discern the reasons why you’re dropping a task before they’re complete.


Keep tabs at tasks that you’ve started with the intention to complete. It will bolster your confidence to see all that you can learn in the process when you commit always to close the circle, and finish what you start. How liberating it must be not to have anything continually hanging over your head. But your real accomplishment is the person you’re becoming, developing muscles of perseverance.


Engage: What projects do you have yet to complete? What roadblocks do you encounter that keep you from seeing through a financial goal? Share other ways to resist the shiny object syndrome.  Drop them in the comments below.







Shiela Bernardo is a budget nerd who is keen to stay on track with her family’s financial goals.  She perpetually seeks to demystify how to keep the house clean. She is a business analyst by profession & a self-taught computer programmer. She blogs about family, faith, and finances in her spare time.


How to Create a Family Budget

You want to create a budget, but you don’t know where to start.  Maybe you took a stab at it before but feel like you’re not doing it right. Or you may actually have an operating idea of how to handle your finances, except that it’s not written down and think that there’s no point to put it on paper. Or do you have one but are loose in your execution of it, so the family isn’t even aware why there are limits to your spending, and they inadvertently break your plan?


I was in the grocery store the other day and brought along my 4-year-old daughter. I prefaced to her that I need her full cooperation while mommy is in the store. I don’t want any tantrums; I just want company while combing through each aisle. I need her to be a good helper and spot all the items on my list.


We were making good time. I’ve checked off ¾ of my list and managed to dodge my toddler’s pointy finger for new, shiny (or colorful) objects. I must’ve referred to the terms “list” and “budget” a good number of times that my daughter picked up the whole premise of it. She asked me if Oreo cookies were on this list. I said ‘no,’ and then she said calmly ‘maybe next time.’ I was astounded at the maturity she displayed here and recognized it was fertile ground for a life lesson…


I explained that the next time I was making our grocery list, she could ask me to put items she needs, only after giving it some thought because it’s not good to be compulsive about it. I’ve also emphasized the importance of following a plan so that we aren’t wasteful of our resources. (Yes, this is still the 4-year-old… and I believe she got it.)


Have there been times when you listened to self-talk convincing you that nothing will work even if you try? That budgeting is constricting, and you don’t need to have guardrails in how you handle money because you’re an adult. Honestly, it gets even more complicated now that we are adults because our wants braid into our needs and we have difficulty telling them apart.


One way we can display maturity in this area is when we create a budget. I understand that it’s daunting at first to put the numbers down, because who knows what reality will stare you in the face when you’re fully aware of your financial state? Maybe you feel you’re starting on a deficit, so it’s pointless to make these numbers behave. Or perhaps not… When you write it down, you’ll know for sure!


I’ve personally prepared a new budget for our own household every month, consistently for the last 84 months and counting… I’ve seen both the good and ugly parts of it. I understand that it may be scary in the beginning. But when you commit to the process, it will change your entire perspective. Let me walk you through this 4-step process:



This has been coined by Dave Ramsey as the zero-based budget. Income minus outflow or all your expenses should come down to zero. Not negative. Not even positive with some extra to spare. Just zero. It only means that every dollar has a name.

In your attempts trying to arrive at zero, just take note that if you’re on a deficit, then you’ll have to evaluate your expenses and identify line items to adjust. If it happens to fall on a surplus, then you should dictate where that extra money must go. It requires some trial and error so be flexible and patient in the process.



Consider your net pay and write down the actual amount that you bring in to your household. This is the amount that gets credited in your checking account if you’re set-up for direct deposit. Alternatively, this is the number that is on your paycheck stub. Your income makes up the left side of our equation.

You’re also answering the question ‘When?’ Consider your pay schedule? Is it bi-weekly, monthly, or an irregular cadence?

Another question that could sprout up after this step, which you should totally consider, but for now we place in the backburner… “How can I increase my income?” There’s separate planning that goes into this. Let’s get back on track to accomplish our immediate goal – and that is, to prepare a budget based on what I currently make.




Outlined below are the main categories of a typical budget. Every transaction clearing your account falls under one of these. This step enables you to stand a framework and organize your spending patterns.

• Charity
• Savings
• Housing
• Utilities
• Food
• Clothing
• Personal
• Transportation
• Health / Medical
• Insurance
• Recreation
• Debts

The heart of the exercise is to take each of these main categories, and then fill in the sub-items. Write down the line items that go under each one.  For example:

o Sewer Service
o Electric
o Water
o HVAC Maintenance
o Cellphone
o Trash
o Internet + Phone + TV (Bundle)
o Drinking Water



Communicate to your entire family what the plan is so that you are all on the same team. It’s a family effort. Recognize that there’s a period of fine-tuning your budget so that it depicts the actual situation. Start to observe and notate areas that need to be adjusted while you’re implementing this plan. Are your spending behavior and standard of living lining up with what you make? Bring your insights into the next budgeting session. It is a recurring monthly activity because, in reality, each month looks different!


You can take ownership of this process. Remember that the process does not own you. You control the variables. You’re taking the reign by doing this wise, courageous step of having a written plan.


Go ahead… Take a blank sheet of paper or pull up a new spreadsheet. Create a budget. When you do, you will feel financially empowered that you’re taking back control. You will learn to craft a plan and set goals that are beneficial for you and your family. It will feel good that you are intentionally tackling your financial affairs.


To put simply:
Step 1 is to understand the equation of a zero-based budget: Income Minus Expenses.
Step 2 is working the left side of the equation or accounting for your income sources.
Step 3 is working the right side of the equation or accounting for all of your expenses.
Step 4 is to execute!


A budget will help you avoid more debt. You can be precise about what you can or cannot spend, and make informed decisions. If you are quite overwhelmed at the notion of even starting a budget and feel like you can’t get your head above the water, all the more that you should do it. Negative emotions overtake positive behavior sometimes. But if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll get the same results you’ve been getting. Isn’t it time to change and evolve?


You’ll experience transformational growth in the process as you identify what’s broken and fix it. You’ll eventually be able to take a look at the numbers objectively, removed from irrational thinking. You’ll have clarity what areas of spending need to be tweaked or tamed. You will feel relieved and less stressed as you continue with this discipline. Every master was once a disaster. You can do it!






Shiela Bernardo is a budget nerd who is keen to stay on track with her family’s finanical goals.  She perpetually seeks to demystify how to keep the house clean. She is a business analyst by profession who is also a self-taught computer programmer. She blogs about family, faith, and finances in her spare time.