Posted by: Donna Cunningham | December 31, 2015

How to Set Realistic Goals for 2016

©12-31-15 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

Many New Year’s resolutions are pretty lame—too sweeping, too much driven by a post-holiday attack of the “shoulds,” and all too soon forgotten.

What has worked well for me for many years is to create a set of achievable goals for the year. Then I work on setting them as INTENTIONS rather than wishes, and put the list away in one of my “piles.” (You’ve got “piles”, too, right?)

 Most often, by the time I unearth it later in the year in one of those periodic purges of the piles, I’ve already accomplished most of the items.

One secret to this success is that the goals are connected with the coming year’s transits to my chart. It’s the goal-setting process and the focusing of intent, rather than any compulsive attention to the list that does the trick. If you want to achieve more of your goals this year, here’s a step-by-step guide to a method that works:

 1) Start by creating a degree list for your chart. Make a list of key placements in your chart—the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Midheaven, planets, and any other factors you’re fond of. Arrange them by number rather than the order of the zodiac, as this enables you to spot hot zones that will be affected by transits this year.

 Barak Obama astrology chart

A hot zone is when several placements are clustered in a narrow numerical range, such 0-8° and 27-28° in the degree list shown below for Barak Obama’s chart.  (His birth record lists his data as August 4, 1961, 7:24 PM AHST, Honolulu, HI, 21N18; 156W51, Rated AA, from the birth certificate.)

  • 0° 52’Aquarius…Jupiter
  • 1°46’ Cancer…Venus
  • 2°22’ Leo…Mercury
  • 3°22 Gemini…Moon
  • 5°19’ Pisces…Chiron
  • 6°59’ Virgo…Pluto
  • 8°36’ of Scorpio…Neptune
  • 12°33 of Leo…Sun
  • 18°03’ Aquarius…Ascendant
  • 22°35 Virgo…Mars
  • 25°16’ Leo…Uranus
  • 25°20’ Capricorn…Saturn
  • 27°18’ Leo…N. Node/ 27°18’Aquarius S. Node
  • 28°54 Scorpio…Midheaven

2) Find the degree range of important transits for the year. Download a free transit tracker under the “Free” tab on the front page of this blog.

3) Locate the house position of the natal and transiting planets, as this will tell you areas of life you can profitably work on. The more difficult planets and aspects, in fact, signify conditions and situations that almost compel you to take action to change those areas.  (There’s an entire category of articles on this blog devoted to learning about the houses and finding things to do to make those areas of life better for you.  See:  Houses of the Horoscope.)

4) Design do-able projects and goals related to the transit. Transits would give you extra energy and motivation to work on goals related to the planets, signs, and houses involved. You’ll find examples of how to set realizable, realistic goals with specific steps to take at Pluto-Saturn Preparedness Kit #4–Taking Concrete Action to Change your Life, as well as links to a wealth of material about goal-setting.  There are more explanations of the houses and examples of projects in the downloadable file, Shovel-Ready Projects for the 12 Astrological Houses.

5) Work consciously with the power of intention to “aim” your goals.  I highly recommend that you read Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s techniques from The Power of Intention.  See more articles on manifestation vs. being stuck in the category Metaphysics–Mind over Matter at the side of this blog. In particular, there are several articles about thought forms that can help you improve your manifestation mojo.

This morning I got a letter I had written to myself one year ago, wishing myself well in my goals for 2015.  I’d totally forgotten about it, so it was a surprise.  I had forgotten FutureMe, which stores a message from you to yourself and delivers it by email on the date you specify.  I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter–again–to have it delivered a year from now! Maybe you could use a bit of love and support for yourself, too  Here’s the link: letters to the future

Readers, what about your own chart?  Do you have any hot zones?  And what  areas of life do the transits suggest would be important to work on?  Feel  free to share your own transit-related goals, if declaring them in the comment section would strengthen your commitment to them.


  1. Reblogged this on Jude's Threshold and commented:
    Happy New Year! Here are some helpful ideas for 2016 from Donna Cunningham!

  2. I have a red hot 20º-29º spot with 8 bodies involved including a t suaqe involving 5 of them. and then another slightly cooler one at 5º-12º involving 7 bodies and angles most of which are all in soft aspect to each other. There are no maverick bodies in the chart. So I am either kicking back and waiting for a shoe to drop with the occational moon or mars transit inklings giving presage or .. lots of shoes are falling from the sky. haha. There is also a daisy chain effect with these clusters as the planets transit from one to the next. A sort of pattern of unfolding occurs that is repeaed over and over and becomes one’s life process itself.

    I have just come out of a pattern of intending through pluto in 1st, having cycled through the cooler of the clusters. For me the most exciting bit was a mars conj @3º in the 1st early on where I got the mana of presented to me to express personal power without burning down the house. The other passages along the daisy chain were also all interesting and gave my evolution a good leg up. I had an interesting time of when it came up to 12º on my nodal axis where I first tried to keep hold of old friends as we had known eachother (first pass) then saw how new peorple in my life were coming to the fore and needing to learn how to relate (with new personal power) (retro pass) then meeting and enjoying new kinds of relating and having older relationships morph into what they needed to be for me to go forward (second pass). The aspects to this cluster often manifest mana from heaven with little to no effort.

    Now when planets hit the 20º -25º positions (29 by progression) it is an altogether different story and I am called upon to use transits as sharp, hard tools; easy to bang a thumb or cut a finger or burn myself with. haha. These are mostly planets in a t square or hard angle and uncomfortable with each other. The good news about t squares is that outside of oppositions and conjunctions the transiting planet will always be at a soft angle to some part of the t square, creating a resting place (I call it) within what is otherwise a maelstrom of action oriented exigencies of the harder aspects hitting it. So I have quite an interesting time of it coming up with first uranus beginning it’s slow dance into the hotter cluster with a inconjuct to mer. just after passing over the IC. At least nep will be playing nice with the cooler cluster… but that a transiting pluto/ur square making a conj/opposition to the hot cluster T square I see looming off in the distance at 25º? Ok, time to start training above my own weight again. haha.

  3. Thank you Donna for your wise advice and for sharing future me! So cool. I have alot of planets and asteroids in/around 15 Cap, 10 Pisces, 9 Virgo. I”ve been working with the transits pretty consciously and that has helped. Astrology has helped me comprehend and apprehend my life purpose, and the karma I came here to heal. Thanks for all of you acceasible and smart astrology writing. You help so many.

    • I never make plans . I also heard that computer generated charts are not the best , because they are not able to give you the full personality . So I would not be sure about my transits either .

  4. You’ve given us some excellent and realistic advice on how to handle our goals for 2016. Those hotspots are certainly a good way to get a peek and plan ahead. Thanks for all the encouragement and support you offer, Donna. Happy New Year!

    • Thanks, Cj. Your daily Auntie Moon posts about the current Moon sign and aspects are a good way to hone in on which goals we can focus on productively each day. Donna

      • Thanks, Donna! I appreciate that.

  5. Happy New Year Donna and CJ!

    Donna thanks so much for this approach to setting goals and intentions. I enjoyed re-reading the Shovel-Ready Projects from 2009. They are still as practical now as they were then. Mars will transit my 10th and 11th Houses this year. Reading the ‘shovel-ready projects’ for those houses offer me very relevant tickle lines for my manifestation mojo. 2016 is also the Year of the Fire Monkey and those Chinese ancestors of mine are sending me ‘messages’ to turn up the fire, wear more red, and so … your post is perfect fuel. All the best! Moki

    • The best to you, too, Moki. Good to hear from you! Donna

      • Hi Donna,

        I’ve been shoveling through the pdf “Shovel ready projects’ for the 10th House. There’s one there that is particularly pulsating, if you get my drift. It’s this project: “Establish an inner board of directors to make your decisions.” I’m curious about how you, or other readers here might address that project. I’m thinking to call upon people real, alive or on the other side, to contribute their skills and talents to my unfolding. It’s been a long while since ‘boards’ have been in my real life … so perhaps, even that definition could be retooled for my own personal evolution.

        What do you think? Thanks. Moki

      • Darned if I know, Moki. Auntie Moon and I collaborated on the posts and I don’t think that was one of my suggestions. Donna

  6. I am looking for articles about Jupiter and Saturn returns and how to maximize their benefits. Anybody aware of any good ones? I do not see any on this site. Thanks!

    • You will find some on Saturn returns here by using the onsite search engine at the top right had corner of this blog. Also Google The Saturn Return Sisters.

      Use Google for Jupiter returns.

  7. Thanks, Donna!

  8. Thank you Donna for such a detailed blog, which helps me to plan my future goals this year, like to follow you as i am new to the astrology.

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