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The beginning of a new year marks the annual “resolution” game. It is, possible, to set a goal and complete it. I found Jeremy Statton‘s article very helpful. Here tis…

Setting goals is an important step toward living a better story. Through goal setting we are trying to become better people and to accomplish greater things.

New Year’s is the perfect time to make a fresh start.

Goals are critical to success for several reasons.

  • They provide clarity about where we are going.
  • They give us a way to measure our progress.
  • They help us stay motivated.

Without a clear understanding of what we want to do or who we want to be, decisions become more difficult, perhaps even conflicting.

If you have the goal of getting rid of your credit card debt, then the choices you make about spending money will be affected. If you have a goal of starting a new business, then the training you pursue and the ways you spend your free time will change.

Without goals, you may wander aimlessly.

photo by tibor5 (iStockphoto.com)

Unfortunately, most of us will break the New Year’s resolutions that we make. Good intentions hide behind bad habits. Old routines will give way difficult changes.

One of the reasons resolutions fail is that we do a poor job making them. We set goals that will never work.

Here are 7 ways to help you make goals that result in real change.

1. Dream Big

Most of us only accomplish small things because we don’t dream big. We settle for less. We are content with the status quo. Don’t just imagine yourself a little better than you are now, imagine the way you should be. Who do you want to become? Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? Answer these questions and then go make it happen. Do the impossible.

1. Be specific.

Dreams give us a vision for the future, but they won’t happen without a plan for today.  In addition in knowing where we want to head, we need to be specific about what to do next. Setting the goal of losing weight won’t work. We have to change our lifestyles. Instead of saying, “I need to exercise more,” your goal could be, “I will go to the YMCA at 6:00am on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays before work and run.” Being specific makes it harder to let yourself off the hook.

2. Be incremental.

In addition to having a bigger goal, determine steps that you can take to get there. If your goal is to run a marathon, but you haven’t run in years, the distance of 26.2 miles seems to great. Gradually build up to the distance by first getting in shape for a 3 mile race. Then build up to 5 miles followed by a half marathon. Then getting ready for a marathon is an easier task. Setting your goals in stages will give you confidence through early success and prepare you to take on the bigger distances.

4. Use a timeframe.

Goals without  a deadline are a set up for failure. Deadlines keep us on track. They help us to make sure we are making progress. They give us an extra motivator, a sense of urgency. Would you ever have finished a term paper if your teacher hadn’t given you a deadline? Instead of saying that you want to write a book, be sure to develop a timeframe fore each step. Set a goal of writing an outline by the end of the week. Write the first chapter by the end of January. The second chapter in February and so on. Eventually you will have written a book.

5. Constantly revise.

Our resolutions often fail because we are not flexible. We set a goal and then when we do not achieve it, we feel like a failure. Instead of viewing our goals from a  black and white perspective, see it as a process that constantly needs to be refined. The end goal may need to change. The means we use may be different. The timeframe may be off. It is not a failure to change our goals, but it is a failure to not make them.

6. Be accountable.

If you have a close friend you can trust, it is also helpful to tell them about your vision and resolutions so that they can help keep you on track. Accountability only works, though if you make yourself vulnerable. Be honest. Be humble. Be open. Knowing that you will have coffee with a friend next week will help you make better decisions today.

7. Develop a review process.

Establish a system to constantly evaluate your progress. Go over each specific goal and the steps you are taking to get there. Are you keeping up? What can you do to help yourself get there? What needs to change? Do this weekly, quarterly, and of course yearly.

Goals are valuable. They give us clarity and help us to know what direction we want to head. These 7 steps can help us not only make better goals, but factually keep them.

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