How to Achieve Your Goals This Year

With the onset of a new year comes the time honored tradition of goal setting and new year’s resolutions.  For most people those goals and resolutions are a thing of the past within two weeks.  This year, set SMART goals to accomplish more in your life.


At the beginning of every year I set out to achieve a number of goals for the coming year. More often than not I have given up by the end of January.  I know that I am not alone in this fact.  only 8% of those who make a New Year’s Resolution are actually successful in achieving them by year’s end.

To achieve more this year, use the SMART formula for goal setting. SMART goals are…

Specific – Specific goals have a much higher chance of being achieved than general goals.  In order for a goal to be specific you need to answer some very basic questions.
  • Who:      Who is involved?
  • What:     What do I want to accomplish?
  • Where:    Identify a location.
  • When:     Establish a time frame.
  • Which:    Identify requirements and constraints.
  • Why:      Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

A General Goal would be to “get in shape”. But a specific goal would say “Run on the greenway three times per week.”

Measurable – Possibly the most critical step of this process is to create a concrete means of measuring progress towards reaching your goal.

This allows you to stay on track, keeping you motivated along the way.  It can be very rewarding to see the progress you make.

In order to make your goal measurable ask questions such as How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished.  Knowing when you’ve reached your goal may seem a little obvious, but for the purposes of measuring your progress this must be determined.

Attainable – Goals should stretch you to become more than you are.  There is nothing wrong with setting lofty goals.  You should be careful to set goals that are actually attainable if you work hard and stay disciplined.

Don’t set yourself up for failure right out of the gate.  “Run a marathon in 3 months” may be a great goal, but if you’ve never stepped foot out the door to run you may want to set a more attainable goal first.  “Run my first 5K in 3 months” is still something that will stretch you but is much more likely to be achieved given your circumstances.

Be realistic in your goal setting.

Relevant – Your goals should fit into the bigger picture of your life plan.  A relevant goal should ask the following questions:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this match my other efforts/needs?
  • Why is achieving this goal important to you?
  • What values in your life does this goal reflect?
  • What effect will achieving this goal have on your life or on others?

Answering these questions within the context of your current life circumstances will ensure that you’re less distracted and more motivated towards achieving your goal.

Time Bound – The final step in setting SMART goals is to give yourself a deadline. Give your goal a sense of urgency by assigning a specific date or time frame for the goal to be accomplished.

“Lose 25 pounds by July 1st” is a time bound goal.  This gives you the ability to measure and work towards something specific.

Your goal can be specific, measurable, attainable and relevant, but if you leave it to be done “someday” you’re much less likely to fail.

You’ve gone through the first four steps of SMART goal setting, seal the deal by putting a deadline on your success.

2014 can be your year.  It can be filled with successes large and small.  Whether your goal is to lose weight, quit smoking, get out of debt or spend more time with your family, these goals can be achieved using the SMART formula for setting goals.

What tactics have you used to achieve your goals?  What will you set out to accomplish this year?

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