Goal setting & achieving as a neurodivergent human.

New year means, for many of us, new goals and plans, a fresh start. For me one of those things is writing a blog post here each month and what better topic as we kick off 2024 than on goal setting and, more specifically, how to actually achieve them when you’re nerodivergent.

The suggestions and ideas here are offered as things to try and not as any kind of promise that they will work for you. You know your brain. If something sparks your interest or seems like it would make sense to you, great, give it a go. If you know they’re not for you, that’s totally ok – I would love to hear what does work for you though so do leave a comment to let me know.

I’ve had issues with goal setting for a long time. I have especially struggled with realistic, achievable goals because they set off my fear of failure quite intensely and make we want to quit before I fail. I’ve spent many years setting impossible goals and simply aiming towards them because knowing they wouldn’t happen made it feel safe to try and see how close I could get.
I have worked hard on that fear of failure over the past few years and last year and now this year I set achievable goals, but here’s the real news:

Last year I failed at most of my goals.

And that’s OK!

2023 was in fact one of the worst years of my life (and there’s stiff competition) so the fact I hit my reading goal and made progress on any of my other goals was impressive in itself. So if you struggle with setting goals because what if you don’t achieve them, know that you’re not alone and in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter.

Goal setting ideas.

  1. Don’t limit yourself to what you “should” set goals around.
    You can set goals for anything, it doesn’t have to just be work or big life goals. They can be fun! I’ve embraced the fun goals this year by starting The Great Hot Chocolate Quest of 2024, my mission to try as many different hot chocolate recipes as I can find.
  2. Allow yourself to set goals in a way that works for you.
    If that means setting impossible goals to avoid fear of failure, or tiny goals that you know you’ll hit, or babystep goals where you set a small goal but have next step goals to work towards when you hit it, they’re all great!
    This can also mean allowing yourself to plan digitally, or on paper, or on your wall, with post its, with apps, whatever works for you.
  3. Start with the things you really want to do.
    Sometimes we need or want to set goals that are for things we’re not overly excited about, but that can make us feel like goals are hard and yucky. Start your goal setting by letting yourself dream big or focus on your special interests and things you enjoy and are excited about.
Text reading "The Great Hot Chocolate Quest of 2024" beside a white mug with a unicorn on it and Lexi's name underneath it. In the mug is hot chocolate with marshmallows and a spoon.

How you choose to plan or vision your goals depends entirely on your brain. For me it looks like very casually allowing desires and interests to come up as I go about my days and making a quick note of them when they do. It also often means looking back at things I wanted to achieve in previous years, or even childhood interests, and seeing if I’m excited by any of those things right now.

My 2024 goals - and how I'm making sure they happen!

Learning goals.

There are several things on my learning goals list this year including BSL, sewing, astrology, and UK Queer history. To ensure I’m making progress on all of them I have booked time in my calendar every week; setting aside an evening for each. I’m not getting hung up on it if something comes up because I know I have time next week, it’s not like I’m going to go months without practicing sewing because even if I miss one week, it’s already on my calendar for the next week.

I’ve also signed up to a BSL course so I have the resources and can work through it in a logical way, and I’m sharing videos of what I’ve learned on Instagram and TikTok to keep me engaged and excited.

For sewing I’ve joined My Year Of Make Do with Leena Norms and the Gumption Club for inspiration, motivation and support.

With astrology I’ve chosen Monday as my astrology day because the YouTubers I follow upload late on Sunday night for the week ahead, so I can spend Monday watching those videos and considering all the information.

Life goals.

My main goal this year is to change how I’m living to be more self sustaining and essentially start homesteading – mending things, making my own clothes, growing my own food, home cooking as much as possible and such. To keep me on track with that I’ve started volunteering at a repair cafe and finding other ways to surround myself with people living, or aiming to live, a similar lifestyle.

Remembering my goals exist!

I am, of course, using Notion to remind myself of my goals and track them in different ways. I have a Goals 2024 page where I store my Wheel Of Life which we do goal setting in The Freelance Lifestyle membership and my quarterly goals.

In my main Notion dashboard (grab my simple planning Notion template here) I also have three databases to track certain goals; reading books I already own, my hot chocolate quest, and trees I’ve met with photos of bark rubbings.

I’m also using a Filofax / Kikki K planner and have several pages with my goals on them in the front, including theater shows I want to see, books I want to read, and little reminders like that. I’ve decorated them so they’re fun to look at and make me happy to flip through.

And I’ve put actual events in my Google calendar each evening for my learning goals.

Basically, I’ve got reminders and brain nudges everywhere I look daily so that I stay conscious of my goals and can keep working towards them.

Two screenshots of a Notion board on a blue background. The first shows a 2024 wheel of life in a bar graph style and text reading "Top 3. 1) Figure out what I’m doing work wise. 2) Set up & fill in budget monthly. 3) Show up for weekly baby steps. Goals. Self care. Alone time once a week. Alone time 3 times a week. Alone time every day. Sprituality. Tarot every day. “Me” altar every week & tarot everyday. Change altar every month & “me” altar every week & tarot everyday. The second screenshot shows 2 databases, one for tracking amount of physical books I already own being read and items sewn. The other tracking hot chocolate recipes tried with links and ranking system.

What are your goals and how will you make them happen?

I’d love to hear what your goals are for 2024; small, big, baby steps, fun, and anything in between. But I’m especially interested to hear how you’re making sure you make them happen, so share your systems in the comments because I just love to hear what works for different people and why.