It’s easy to get caught up in the flurry of activity the holidays bring. With all of the items on our to-do lists, many of us neglect to look ahead beyond our plans for New Year’s Eve.

Don’t let the new year catch you unprepared.

Whether you’re feeling defeated by past mistakes or broken promises you’ve made to yourself, or you’re swept away with a romantic or unrealistic expectations, pause and collect your thoughts. Give yourself the gift of assessing where you’re at. Take an honest inventory of your successes and failures from the current year. Think of the new year as a clean slate and an opportunity to make a fresh start.

Before you begin making goals, think about what’s realistic. Resolutions often fail because we set unrealistic expectations and don’t create a plan for success. You definitely want to reach for the stars, but the way to get there is through a million small wins. It takes intentional and sensible growth to achieve goals.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Focusing on continuous growth and improvement is the best way to achieve your dreams. For example, weight loss is a common New Year’s resolution and the reason why people are often unsuccessful is that results don’t happen right away or too many behaviors are changed at the same time. People get frustrated and quit. However, if a series of short-term goals are established to support a larger goal – like weight loss – it can make all the difference. When a sensible plan is put into place and small changes are made each month (rather than all at once), by the end of the year, 12 effective and sensible changes have been implemented and the results are tangible.

Establish your goals, then set them in motion.

Use these steps as a framework for setting your goals and taking action steps to achieve them.

Step 1: Get right down to it. Develop your goals.

Think about your main goal and what you want to accomplish. Start with your long-term goals (for example, where you want to be five years from now) and ask yourself:

If thinking ahead to your long-term goals is too daunting, think about where you want to be at this time next month, and next year, and ask yourself opposing questions:

Write everything down and think about who needs to be involved and who will be affected by your answers. For example, if you have a spouse and you want to move across the country but s/he doesn’t, you have a conflict in your goals. Rethink them.

Step 2 – Think through your goals and break them down into small steps and tasks.

Step 3 – It’s about to get real: set a deadline and create a timeline for your action steps.

Step 4 – Be prepared to make adjustments throughout the year.

Tips to stay on track.

Free Goal-Setting Downloads

Print these free resources to help you set and achieve your goals.

go for your goals worksheet

Go for Your Goals!

No goal is impossible. This sheet will help you measure yours.

long term goals worksheet

Long-term Goals

Measure your long-term goals with this handy download.

short term goals worksheet

Short-term Goals

Keep your short-term goals on track with this helpful sheet.