Why Next Level Goals are Better Than New Years Resolutions

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next level

You’ve set your goals for the new year, and today we’ll talk about taking those goals to the next level. I learned a personal lesson in taking goals to the next level last month that showed me just how much more valuable next level goals are than New Years resolutions. Let me explain.

As I perused our 2014 goals, I saw that we were perilously close to going over the yearly grocery budget we had set. If we were to meet our 2014 grocery spending goal, we had roughly $200 available to spend on groceries for the month of December. As a family of six, that’s no easy task, but I was eager to push our family to the next level, and set a real challenge in place as far as our grocery spending was concerned.

What is the ‘Next Level?’


What is “the next level”? It’s simply the level in which you choose to push yourself that extra mile as you work to reach a goal you’ve set in place. For instance, if you choose to run five miles one morning, you’d go to the next level by running five and a half miles. In our case with the grocery budget challenge, taking it to the next level meant that instead of staying under our usual budget of $400, we’d try our best to cut that number in half. Taking your goals to the next level means that you push further than you think you can go in order to reach your goal sooner, or better, than you’d originally planned.

Is this difficult? Yes, and no. We learned that with our grocery budget challenge. Limiting your grocery spending to roughly $35 a piece for the month is not easy. We made it – almost. Our grocery spend for the month of our challenge was $215.48. But more so than meeting our challenge, taking our goal to the next level taught us something: it taught us that we’re capable of better performance than we give ourselves credit for.

This revelation shed a whole new light on us as we planned our goals for the new year. After we successfully spent much less on groceries than we usually do (less than half of our normal grocery budget), we realized that we weren’t giving 100 percent to our goals in months and years past, and we realized that we do indeed have the power to achieve more when we put our minds to it.

Taking Your Goals to the Next Level


Let’s use your own goals as an example. Pick a goal that you set in place for last year; it can be a financial, physical or career-related goal. Look at what you accomplished as far as reaching that goal.  Now double your results.

For instance, let’s say your goal was to put 10 percent into retirement accounts. Now imagine how much closer you’d have put yourself to retirement if you’d taken that goal to the next level and put 20 percent in your retirement account. How many years closer would that yield an increase to your ROI and bring you to early retirement? Would it shave 5-10 years off of your working hours? Look for the payoff in your current goals and then compare that to the potential payoff you’d experience by taking your goals to the next level. That comparison may provide the motivation you need to turn your performance (and results) up a notch.

The funny thing about our “next level” grocery goal was that it really wasn’t that painful. We all ate well, had full stomachs, and lived with the same level of joy that we did when we spent double that much. Going to the next level didn’t “hurt” nearly as much as we thought it would. Seeing this made us eager to discover other areas of our lives we could take to the next level.

Make this the year that you choose to take your goals to the next level, and you’ll accomplish more than you dreamed you could in years past.


Have you ever set a challenging goal and accomplished it? What goal for this year would you like to take to the next level? How hard do you think it would be for you to cut your grocery bill in half? Would you feel the pain or hardly notice it?



Photo courtesy of: Anthony DeLorenzo

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Laurie is a wife, mother to 4, and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom, and to a simpler, more peaceful life.


  • My next level goals usually were physical goals. One year I wanted to bench press 315lbs. (3 plates), I ended up benching 375lbs. that year. It happened because progression became a habit and exciting. This year I’m tackling my student loan debt, hopefully I pay off more than I planned.

    • Laurie says:

      Derrick, that’s AWESOME. That’s what I’m talking about: pushing yourself beyond your goals. Great work – I know you can do it with your loans too!

  • Rebecca says:

    I make small changes to the things that we eat over time. My family does not feel the pinch. My strategy is to learn to cook more from recipes/scratch and reduce our bill to 60/week for a family of 5. We are currently at about 90/week. To avoid lifestyle inflation we already have a plan for the grocery savings!

  • $400 is impressive! I don’t think we could half our budget. We have to buy according to some food allergies in our family which typically makes it more expensive, but I’m going to look into this more.

  • Kim says:

    I think it would be really hard to half our grocery budget because we are spoiled with the things we like to eat. Halving would mean less choice. That’s great that you met the challenge and didn’t give up because you were close to going over anyway. I think we let lots of things slip when we feel we haven’t met our goal. That’s no reason to quit entirely.

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, it was tough in that respect, knowing that what we had in the house was what we had to choose from, period. But we are going to continue to try and cut the grocery spending, even if we don’t cut as much as we did last month.

  • Syed says:

    Great post. i actually experienced this today. For a few years I have had a goal of maxing out our Roth IRA. I’ve been creeping closer year after year but was still short. I decided today that I’m just gonna set up the max contribution for this year and force it to work. Worst case scenario, I may have to scale back later int he year but now I’m motivated to save and make money to meet my goal. To the next level!

    • Laurie says:

      Syed, that is awesome!!! I think it’s SO cool that you just DID it, you know? I’m willing to bet that any cuts you have to make to your budget later in the year will be well worth the trade off. 🙂

  • dojo says:

    I usually set attainable goals and this does allow me to sometimes knock them out of the park, too. Love the idea of next level goals.

    • Laurie says:

      I think that’s a smart idea, Dojo. Making goals attainable assures you’re not setting yourself up for failure right out of the gate AND allows for the opportunity for you to knock them out of the park. 🙂

  • Miriam says:

    I love the idea of pushing myself to go even further. We set a budget for food last year but didn’t quite make it BECAUSE we stopped looking at the details each month. This year we plan to stay on top of our spending by reviewing the spending at least twice a month (I’ve scheduled it on my calender so I won’t let it slip unconsciously).

    Laurie – I do wonder though if the month you halved your groceries meant that you ate from the pantry more? I know I could probably not shop at all and we wouldn’t starve.

    One of the things I have done to help us this year is I have been building a 3 month pantry in the basement with the goal to be able to shop from my pantry each week and then only have to buy stuff when it is on deep discount and then stock up on it. I have been doing this with a number of selected items for a couple of years but not want to take that across the board. I was intrigued by a statement made on a blog that the fewer shopping trips equals less spending.

  • Jenna says:

    My goals are set in a such a way to encourage me to set good habits. I love stretch goals too, but I can only do 1-2 of those at a time.

    That grocery budget for December is soo low. Congrats on doing such a great job.

  • Wow – that low grocery bill is quite impressive. I’d day you’ve about mastered that one.

    We have a long way to go as a family of 4 using you as a benchmark 🙂

    What an interesting post. My goals are always set as something new, but I haven’t really given much thought to raising the bar on previously “completed” goals to take them to the next level. Definitely something to keep me challenged and consider.

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