6 Tips for Reflection, Achieving Goals and Managing Priorities Throughout 2020

These tips come from me, Sarah Wallace (formerly Harrington), AIGA Raleigh’s Director of Communications. At our January community meeting I touched on a few of these topics; here I dig a little deeper and share some of the practices I have found successful as a continuous improvement nerd. My top tip is number six!

1. Identify your core values

Core values are our guiding principles; the things we care about and want to put our energy towards. Acknowledging what our core values are can help us set better goals, communicate priorities, and adjust how we spend our time.

If you were not at our January community meeting or want to learn more about core values and identifying them, I recommend this podcast from the Productivity Show. Their recommended identification process is a bit different than what we did at the meeting but also helpful. 

If you would like the process and word sheet we used at the meeting, or have general questions about core values feel free to email me directly.

2. Set SMART goals that are driven by your core values

Core values are not the same thing as goals, they are guiding principles that should be driving your goals. For example, one of my goals in 2019 was to add exercise to my morning routine. This is not because I value doing things in the morning or exercise itself, I value health. Health as a core value drove me to achieve my goal of consistently exercising in the morning.

When you set goals, ensure they follow the “SMART” format. Your goals should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based


3. Have a quarterly personal retreat

I got this idea from the Productivity Show podcast and love it,
(episode here). Each quarter, take time to reflect on what you achieved in the previous months, and evaluate if there is anything you would like to change as you look to the next quarter. 

What’s nice is that you can make this event a full weekend getaway or as simple as a visit to a coffee shop.

Here is the suggested format for personal review questions:

  1. Review your core values: have any of them shifted?
  2. Review the previous quarter: list all accomplishments. Were they in line with your core values?
  3. Identify all your current roles and responsibilities: anything recurring counts. Do you want to improve or stop any of these?
  4. Identify any additional commitments: not regular or typically recurring
  5. Ask three questions: what should I start, keep, and stop doing? You don’t have to stop doing things immediately, but putting things you want to stop doing on the “chopping block” can be helpful
  6. Pick 3 or less 12-week goals: the things you want to accomplish in the next quarter
  7. Reevaluate your morning routine

4. Display your goals and core values in a place you see everyday

Visualize, ingrain, succeed!


5. Set goals in a “12-week year” time frame

I admittedly have had varied success with this, (tip #6 has helped me improve the most), but knowing that we all accomplish our goals differently, I decided to still include this method.

The essence of the “12-week year” is that by creating a condensed window of time to achieve our goals, (i.e. a quarter vs a year), we can accomplish much more. 

If you are interested in learning more checkout the book, “The 12 Week Year” by Brian P. Morgan and Michael Lennington. As always, ensure your goals are realistic to avoid burnout.

6. Habit stack

I have had great success with habit stacking. There is power in repeated action; if you would like to create positive change, do so by making a new habit.

To successfully create a new habit, add the new action alongside something you already consistently do. For example, if you want to become more physically flexible, and right now you have coffee every morning, do some stretches while you are waiting for your coffee to brew.

When habit stacking, start with one new habit at a time. This is how I was able to create a morning routine that keeps me healthy and makes me excited to wake up each day. For more details checkout “Atomic Habits” by James Clear.



Have feedback, ideas or just want to say hi? Email me here or the entire AIGA Raleigh board here. Happy New Year!


Written by Sarah Wallace (Harrington)
AIGA Raleigh Director of Communications
Self-proclaimed continuous improvement nerd & creative dabbler

By Sarah Harrington
Published January 9, 2020