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  • Writer's pictureBrian Davidson, PMP, CSM

Setting New Year Resolutions Using a Project Charter

The start of a new year often inspires us to set goals and pursue new ambitions. However, without a structured approach, these aspirations can quickly become overwhelming or fall by the wayside. A Project Charter, commonly used in project management to define the scope and objectives of a project, can be an excellent tool for personal goal setting. This blog discusses how one can use a Project Charter to set a clear annual goal statement and outline the scope for the year, providing a systematic way to identify, prioritize, and achieve personal goals.



As the new year rolls in, it brings with it the promise of fresh starts and new beginnings. Setting goals is a traditional part of this transition, but making those goals stick is a challenge for many. Adapting the project management tool of a Project Charter to personal goal setting can provide the structure and clarity needed to turn aspirations into actionable plans.

What is a Project Charter?

In project management, a Project Charter is a document that outlines the essential aspects of a project. It provides a preliminary delineation of roles and responsibilities, outlines the objectives of the project, identifies the main stakeholders, and sets the authority of the project manager. For personal goal setting, it serves as a blueprint for the year ahead.

Developing a Personal Project Charter

Annual Goal Statement

Start with drafting an Annual Goal Statement. This statement should encapsulate what you aim to achieve by the end of the year. It should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). For example, instead of saying "I want to be healthier," a more specific goal statement could be "I aim to lose 15 pounds and run a 5k by December."

Scope Outline

The Scope Outline includes a detailed description of what achieving your Annual Goal Statement will entail. It defines what is included in the scope of your goals and what is not. This clarity helps prevent scope creep and keeps your efforts focused.

Potential Scope Section

This section is used for brainstorming potential goals that you might want to pursue throughout the year. Initially, this part of the charter should be broad and inclusive, capturing all conceivable goals that align with your broader ambitions.

  • Example goals might include:

  • Learn a new language to conversational fluency.

  • Develop a new professional skill, like coding.

  • Improve personal relationships through regular engagements.

  • Volunteer a set number of hours for a cause you care about.

Using the Charter Throughout the Year

Once your Project Charter is set up with your Annual Goal Statement, Scope Outline, and a comprehensive list of potential goals, it becomes a living document to guide your year.

  • Periodic Review and Goal Selection: Every quarter, review the Potential Scope section to identify one or two goals to move into the 'In Scope' section for active pursuit. This helps in maintaining focus and not overextending by trying to achieve too many goals simultaneously.

  • Applying Project Leadership Principles: Once a goal moves into 'In Scope', apply the remaining three principles of project leadership—Chart the Course, Navigate the Obstacles, and Focus on the Goal.

  • Chart the Course: Break down the goal into actionable steps and set a timeline for each step.

  • Navigate the Obstacles: Identify potential barriers to achieving these goals and plan for how to address them.

  • Focus on the Goal: Regularly update your Project Charter to reflect progress, reevaluate priorities, and recalibrate efforts as needed to stay on track.


A Project Charter is not just for corporate projects; it can be a powerful tool for personal development and goal achievement. By providing a clear framework and periodic checkpoints, it helps individuals maintain focus and systematically work towards their goals throughout the year. This structured approach to personal goal setting encourages not only the setting of goals but also provides a clear path to achieving them, making each new year not just a time for setting resolutions but for achieving them as well.


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