New Year\’s Day (and Eve) is a distant memory. How are you doing on your resolutions? It may not be a bad idea to pick a different day as your start day for your resolutions/goals of 2011. With the insanity of the holidays, it may just be too much to choose to work on new goals or habits. After the holidays are over, in the January lull, refining your list of goals for the year ahead may be a way to get on track for successfully accomplishing those goals.

Define your Goals

Defining your goals may be the most difficult part of the process. Think about every time you have said in the past, “I wish….” or some ill-defined thought about things you want to change or improve (either about yourself, your life or something you actually have control over). If it is a goal you can set, work on and accomplish—write it down. Creating two lists, short-range and long-range goals, is a good start. Short-range goals may be individual steps on the way to a long-range goal or they may be stand-alone objectives that can boost your sense of accomplishment along the way as you complete them. Long-range goals are going to take more time and effort to accomplish from the beginning. Remember that all of your goals should be measurable and realistically achievable.

Be Firm with Yourself

That said, “realistically achievable” doesn\’t mean “so easy as to not require effort.” You want some of your goals to be easy to accomplish, but many should challenge your comfort zone. By requiring more of yourself, your sense of accomplishment rises exponentially. That, in turn, can motivate you to tackle more goals. It then becomes a win-win situation.

Think about these important areas when defining your goals:

  • Emotional—what would you like to change, strengthen or improve to increase your personal happiness?
  • Physical—making changes in diet or exercise is tough. Start with daily goals and as you accomplish these, slowly increase your time frame to weekly and monthly goals.
  • Relationships—in what ways can you improve your connections with friends, co-workers, loved-ones and family?
  • Finances —what changes can you employ to increase your earnings or savings? How can you reduce your spending?

Be Specific

After you answer those questions, take some time to really think about your answers. How can you use your answers to develop achievable goals? What steps might be required? Be specific in your answers. Being vague may be easier, but that won\’t get you far on the road to success. For example, “lose weight” is much more vague than, “lose 20 pounds in 2011.” You may want to design a rewards plan for extra motivation. As you complete a goal (or even at a half-way point), treat yourself to something small you wouldn\’t ordinarily do or buy. It\’s always a good idea to have something to look forward to!

Once you have completed your list of goals, write them down and post the paper in a place where you\’ll see it frequently.

It may also help to tell your friends or family about your goals. Accountability is very helpful to some people. If necessary, break each goal into more manageable steps. Develop a flowchart or step-by-step plan to achieve your goals. By making it easy on yourself, you\’re increasing your chances for accomplishment.