We’re heading towards that time of year when thoughts start turning to the coming year and the goals we want to set, whether they’re personal or business.

But how did you get on with achieving the goals you set at the beginning of this year?

Chances are you’re one of the 92% of people who set themselves goals but fail to achieve them.

Yes, you may have achieved some goals…but they’re not necessarily what you set out to achieve at the beginning of the year. The ones aimed at getting you closer to your long term vision, those big dreams you have.

The problem is that you start the year feeling all pumped up and raring to go. You’ve identified the goals you want to work towards and are determined you’re going to achieve them.

But within months, if not weeks, life has taken over. You become engrossed in the day to day challenges of running your business, juggling your hectic family life, keeping the house in a reasonably presentable state, and maybe even doing all this alongside a job as well.

You lose sight of your goals and eventually forget what they were. Instead you start plucking random goals out of thin air, when you remember to that is.

So what can you do to make 2018 the year you start turning things around?

Here are 8 tips to increase your chances of achieving your goals:

1. Write their goals down

If you bear in mind you have around 1500 thoughts running through your head every single minute, it’s not hard to imagine why you end up getting your goals all muddled, or worse, completely forgetting them, if you try and keep them in your head.

And yet research shows that around 14% of people do exactly this.

Writing down your goals will help you to get a clearer idea of exactly what you want, focuses your mind on looking for ways to achieve that goal, and creates a record of that goal for you to measure against.

2. Make sure that your goals are specific

Most people have heard of SMART goals and yet still don’t make their goals specific enough.

Goals that are too vague or woolly make it very difficult to both work out what you need to do to accomplish them, and to know when you’ve done so. And there is also a danger because of this that you could end up procrastinating or never get going.

Instead of setting a general goal such as ‘I want to be happier’, think about what it is that will make you happier…what you want to Be, Do or Have that would increase your happiness, and create goals around achieving those things, ie. ‘I will write and publish a book on starting a business by 30 September 2018’.

3. Set goals that challenge you but are still realistic

Whilst your goals should be challenging and stretch you, you also need to be realistic about what you can achieve.

Having a big long term vision is great, but it’s not necessarily something that you can achieve in one step.

When your goals are too big and scary, you can quickly begin to feel overwhelmed, which in turn can leave you feeling paralysed.

Identifying the key elements needed to achieve your longer term vision will give you some good ideas for goals. They might be personal development inspired goals, or an incoming goal (such as a new product or service you want to launch to increase your income or free up time by replacing a more time intensive offer), or it might be a goal that helps you get more visibility or boost your reputation (such as PR opportunities, awards or accreditation).

4. Only set goals that you feel passionate about

If you’re not emotionally connected to your goal, you’re going to struggle to accomplish it.

When you set yourself a goal, the first thing you need to be asking yourself is why you want to do this. Are you doing it because you want to do it…or are you doing it because you think you need to come up with goals but taking the time to actually dig down and give it some real thought seems too much like hard work? Or maybe they’re goals that someone else wants or expects you to aim for?

Being passionate about your goals can be a powerful motivator and help you to stay focused on what you need to be doing to achieve that goal, even when things get tough.

5. Know the difference between a target and a goal

When setting goals it’s a common mistake to set a goal that is actually a target.

The problem is that a target is much harder to connect with emotionally. It’s real purpose is to act as a measure so that you can track progress against your goal.

For example, “I want to earn £50,000 by the end of 2018” is a target.

Why? Because when you think about the money itself you might see it as being nice to have. Maybe it’s more than you’ve ever earned before. But it’s not going to fire up that feeling inside you which will have you jumping out of bed raring to go in the morning.

If, however, you have a specific purpose for that amount of money…maybe a new car, or the holiday of a lifetime to Australia, etc.

So your goal is actually what you want to Be, Do or Have at the end of the period, and your target would be the amount of money you need to achieve your goal.

6. Break your goals down into easily actionable steps

I often encourage people to ‘dream big’, but if you want to actually achieve those dreams you need to start thinking small.

It’s about like that age old joke “How do you eat an elephant?”, “One bite at a time…”

When you want to achieve a goal, especially a big one, believing that it’s do-able can seem like a bit of a stretch of the imagination.

Breaking your goal down into milestones, and then breaking those milestones down into easily actionable steps will help you to shift your mindset by making it seem more manageable.

Creating an action plan will make it possible to keep taking steps forward and help you achieve some momentum. By creating milestones along the way, you will have regular opportunities to celebrate your progress, which will give you a sense of achievement and a growing confidence in your ability to do this.

7. Share your goals with someone you trust

Human nature makes us want to keep our goals to ourselves so that if you fail to achieve them you can save face.

But sharing your goals can actually help you achieve them.

Telling someone you trust what you are working towards gives you a sense of accountability, something that many entrepreneurs who’ve transitioned from corporate surprisingly miss.

Just talking about your goals can also help you to keep refining them and work out exactly what you really want.

Having someone else on-board can act as a motivator, provide you with support and encouragement, can lead to new opportunities opening up for you, and mean that you track your progress and give you opportunities to celebrate.

8. Regularly review your goals and your progress against them

The easiest way to completely lose sight of your goals, especially when things get hectic is to not review them on a regular basis.

Reviewing your progress not only keeps your goals front and foremost but it gives you the opportunity to see what is working and what isn’t and making any adjustments needed to get you back on track.

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