With another year coming to an end and a new one fast approaching, now is the time to take stock of all your achievements in 2016 and set new goals for 2017 to ensure it gets off to a flying start.

Why you should set goals

Research shows that only 8% of people stick to their new year’s resolutions, with 66% of people who have a resolution giving up by the end of January. It is suggested people try to bite off more than they can chew and have unrealistic expectations on what they can achieve in a small space of time. They may also not really be 100% committed to the goal so simply say ‘I will be healthier this year’ which is hard to measure and get excited about. Setting a year-long goal is all about being realistic, choosing something that is meaningful to you so when times get tough and you think about quitting you can remember why you were doing it in the first place.

Follow these 7 steps and you’ll be ahead of the goal setting game

1. Decide on your top 5 goals

Like me, you may have so many things you want to achieve, however Psychologist George Miller pointed out the limitation of working memory in 1956.  He highlights that people can only remember 5-7 things at one time. You can always add more in as smaller challenges throughout the year; however as main year-long goals start with your top 5 most important goals ensuring they spread across a range of areas in your life e.g. finance, work, family life, ‘me’ goals

2. Ensure they are SMART

You have all heard the acronym, and there is a reason it works. Make sure your goals fit into the following format so you know what you are doing by when. This is the only way to know if you really have achieved your goal. If I write ‘I will publish 1 article per week on my blog’ it is very easy to measure if I did or didn’t hit my target this week. If I simply wrote ‘Publish more blog posts’ I wouldn’t know how many were expected or by when and couldn’t close of that goal.

As a reminder, here are all the things needed to make a SMART goal.

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Achievable
  • R – Realistic
  • T – Timed
Overcoming a mountain to hit your goal

How do you get to the top of a mountain?

3. Set some smaller milestones

With your end goal in mind, break it down into smaller bite sized pieces. I don’t know who first said it but the classic joke “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time” always comes to mind in this scenario. It may seem like a mountain to overcome now, however if you take it one step at a time you will be surprised how much progress you have made at the end of the year.

4. Place your goals where you can see them

I’m old fashioned when it comes to writing down my goals. There is just something about pen and paper that helps the message sink in a little further. I also become more creative and energised about the goals. Put a copy on the fridge, or on your bedside table, as a post it note on your computer screen, wherever you can see the goals regularly so your mind subconsciously start to work toward them.

5. Share the journey

Setting goals and challenges with a friend can give you an extra boost. Or just having an accountability partner can really help to achieve your goals. There is just something in the brain that doesn’t want to admit to others that we haven’t been doing our best. Whether it is your partner, your best friend, or even this community. Tell us your goals and how you are going; we’ll help to keep you honest and on track (we are also great at step 6 ;))

The path to reach your goals

One step at a time! (p.s. it’s better with friends)

6. Celebrate the milestones

Each time you hit a milestone celebrate in a small way. This will keep you motivated and you will be able to see how far you have come. Often people have the motivation to start a goal, however after a short while this energy starts to fade (see stats at the begining of this article!) and it can feel onerous. If you look at your progress and realise you are already half way there it can give you the boost you need to see it through to the end.

Go ahead and think about what goals you can set for 2017 and how you will achieve them. Do you have any other tips to add to ensure you set goals you will achieve? Write them in the comments below