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The Top Nine Steps to Set and Achieve Your Goals in 2008

This week, an estimated 100 million Americans will embark upon a journey to fulfill their New Year's resolutions. The start of the New Year brings an ideal (and popular) time for change, as many are eager to get their lives back into normalcy after the month-long over-eating, over-buying and, perhaps, over-socializing binge that often comes with the holiday season.

Goal Setting

For many Americans, New Year's is the perfect time to reflect on their lives and set new goals for the future.

But New Year's resolutions, as grandiose as they may sound, is really a fancy word for something many avoid for the rest of the year: goals.

Whether it is New Year's or any other time of year, goals are often set and forgotten. But this year can be different. Here are the nine most important steps to set your goals properly so you can actually achieve them in 2006.

  1. Scrutinize your reasoning.
    Do you want to start eating better and give up watching TV because someone suggested you should? Or is this something you want for yourself? In order for your goal to become reality, the reason behind it must be an enduring one. If it's not important to you, it will not last.

  2. Be realistic.
    Did you resolve to lose 50 pounds by the end of January, in time for your vacation to the Bahamas? Setting an unrealistic goal is just setting yourself up for failure. A better option? Resolve to lose no more than two pounds a week.

  3. Only take on what you can handle.
    If you bite off more than you can chew -- say trying to quit smoking, lose weight, get out of debt and spend more time with your kids -- the stress alone may cause you to give up. Particularly when you are trying to change lifestyle habits, focus on just one goal at a time.

  4. Be specific.
    Rather than setting a vague goal like "exercise more," plan your goal out down to the details. Resolve to "jog 30 minutes on Monday mornings, take a yoga class on Thursdays after work, go to the gym over your lunch hour on Wednesdays," etc.

    Goal Setting

    Trying to conquer too many goals at one time is a sure-fire road to burnout.

  5. Keep it simple.
    It's common for people to lump many goals into one, daunting mega-goal. A goal of owning your own restaurant, buying a vacation home in Tahoe and a new home for your parents would fit into this category. Attainable goals are simple ones that take it a step at a time.

  6. Take action.
    Once you have your goal in mind, write it down on paper. Then take the steps necessary to set it into motion. Want to pay off your debts, for instance? Figure out how much you can afford to save for this purpose each month, then pick a day to tend to bills each week.

  7. Keep track of your progress.
    Your goal must have a measurable outcome if you are to keep motivated. Do you want to save X dollars a week? Lose X pounds a month? Determine what you are aiming for, then monitor how close you are to getting it.

  8. Share your goals.
    Telling other (supportive!) people about your intentions is an excellent morale booster. These people can encourage you when you get off track and keep you focused on what you're trying to achieve.

  9. Pat yourself on the back.
    Reward yourself for every step you take toward reaching your goal. This is a necessary step to keep yourself feeling motivated and to keep your momentum going. You deserve recognition as you move toward reaching your goals.

Recommended Reading

How to Make All Your Relationships Work

Aging Gracefully: Enjoy a Vital, Fulfilling Life Regardless of Age

The Top 10 Steps to Set and Achieve Your Goals

Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

How to Keep New Year's Resolutions

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