English phrases for talking about plans and goals


Everyday English Speaking Course

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Here are the top 5 goals people tend to have for the New Year, along with some other ways to express related goals.

1. lose weight

Other ways to say it / related goals:

  • lose 10 pounds
  • get back into shape
  • get in better shape
  • work out more
    (work out = exercise)
  • eat healthier / eat less / eat more fruit and vegetables
  • cut down on junk food
    (junk food = unhealthy food)

2. get organized

Other ways to say it / related goals:

  • manage my time better
  • stop procrastinating / stop putting things off
    (procrastinating / putting things off = delaying your tasks and responsibilities)
  • be more punctual
    (punctual = arrive on time for meetings, appointments, and social commitments)
  • stick to my schedule
    (stick to = follow, accompany closely)
  • have a better work-life balance

3. spend less, save more

Other ways to say it / related goals:

  • save up for ________ (a new car, a house, a trip)
  • get out of debt / pay off debt
    (debt = money you owe and need to pay back)
  • pay off my student loans / pay off my mortgage
    (student loans = money you borrowed to pay for education)
    (mortgage = money you borrowed to pay for a house)
  • make a budget and stick to it
    (budget = specific plan for spending money in various areas)

4. quit smoking / drinking

Other ways to say it / related goals:

  • kick the smoking habit
    (kick = stop doing, eliminate)
  • drink in moderation
    (in moderation = a reasonable amount, not too much)
  • lay off the alcohol
    (lay off = stop using/consuming so much)

5. spend more time with family

Other ways to say it / related goals:

  • improve my marriage
  • play with my kids more
  • reconnect with old friends
    (reconnect = contact again after some time without contact)
  • show my family how much I love them
  • be a better husband/wife/mother/father

Now that you know the most common resolutions, how can we talk about making them? Here are some English phrases for stating your goals:

Phrases for making resolutions:

I’m going to… / I’m not going to…

Use these phrases to state promises and intentions. Add the word “definitely” for extra emphasis.

  • This year, I’m definitely going to learn a new language.
  • From now on, I’m not going to eat at McDonald’s.

I’m determined to… / I’m determined not to…

These phrases express your firm emotional commitment to your goals.

  • I’m determined to eat healthier in 2016.
  • I’m determined not to lose my temper with my kids.
    “lose your temper” means to explode in anger

I’m planning to + (base form)
I’m planning on + (-ing form)

This phrase is for plans that are more definite; you’ve already taken steps to make them happen.

  • I’m planning to travel to Hawaii this September.
  • We’re planning on buying a house within the next 12 months.

I hope to… / I’d like to…

Use these phrases for things you want, but there’s less certainty that they will happen.

  • I hope to get into graduate school this year.
  • I’d like to find a better-paying job as soon as possible.

I might… / I’m thinking about…

Use these when YOU’RE not completely certain; you are only considering the idea.

  • I might get a dog, although I’m not sure if my apartment’s big enough for a pet.
  • I’m thinking about having another child this year.

Phrases for expressing excitement/anticipation

Use these phrases when something will DEFINITELY happen in the future, and you are excited about it.

  • I’m looking forward to + ING
    I’m looking forward to starting guitar lessons.
    I’m really looking forward to visiting my cousins in June – I haven’t seen them in five years!
  • I can’t wait to + base form / I can’t wait for + noun
    I can’t wait to see the new Star Wars movie.
    I can’t wait for summer vacation!
  • I’m counting down the days until…
    I’m counting down the days until the end of the semester.
  • Informal: I’m psyched/pumped to + verb / about + noun
    I’m psyched about the opportunity to go to China.
    I’m pumped to start my new job in February.

Future perfect

Finally, you can use the future perfect to talk about what you hope to accomplish before the year ends:

  • By the end of the year, I will have run a marathon.
  • By the end of the year, I will have improved my English.
  • By the end of the year, I will have saved up $10,000.
  • By the end of the year, I will have gotten a promotion.

The structure is will + have + past participle.

You’ll learn hundreds of conversational English expressions in this course:

Everyday English Speaking Course

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