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As we look forward to another new year we start thinking about resolutions, and most of us will make at least one. Unfortunately, very few of us will keep them. In fact the Statistic Brain Research Institute released a study a couple years ago with disappointing news – only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually succeed in achieving them. Eight percent! However, while that number may seem small, people that make resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t. So you’re still better off making a resolution than not making one at all. But if you are serious about achieving your goals you have to think strategically. The following steps will help you map out a plan to achieve your resolutions as well as your overall personal and professional life goals.

1. Set Realistic Goals

The problem I see most with goal setting is unrealistic expectations of the amount of time it will take to achieve them. In the excitement of setting goals it is too easy to be overly ambitious with your timeline. Then, when the deadline passes and the goal isn’t achieved, most people abandon their goals or never set a new date – resulting in failure. The key is to set yourself up for success so you are not failing, but succeeding. Prior to setting any goal, you have to keep in mind that you only have 168 hours in a week; no more, no less. Subtract from that time you have to spend sleeping, working, commuting, eating, running errands, exercising, cleaning, maintaining your relationships and fulfilling your obligations. What’s left is time you actually have to work on achieving your goals. Use the Boundaries Worksheet from The Results Map for Women in Biz to help you map out your time and set achievable timelines to achieve your goals.

2. Be Specific

Without the proper focus you will be like a leaf floating in the wind, subject to change direction at any moment. You have to have a target, something specific that you are working toward. This is true for your personal and professional goals alike. To truly ensure success, boil down your bigger goals into achievable bite-size goals. For example, if your goal is to write a book, don’t set that as your goal. Instead, based off the time you have identified as having available, set realistic goals for completing the chapters you intend to include. Set a goal for creating the outline, then another goal for writing the intro, the first chapter, and so on. The more granular you can be with your goals the easier it will be to achieve them, which will increase your confidence, and will give you motivation to achieve the next goal. Chapter 6 of The Results Map for Women in Biz contains several worksheets to help you identify your goals both personal, and professional. Use these worksheets to identify your top 10 big goals, and then break them down into bite-size goals.

3. Chart Your Course

Even when you know what you want it is easy to get sidetracked on the way to getting there. Entrepreneurs are notorious for working way too hard and never really accomplishing the financial goals they want in their business. The problem is that just because you are getting things done does not mean those are the most important things that you need to do. You need to build a strategy for achieving your goals so you can work smarter and not harder. You must accept that something will have to give in order to make way for the work you have to do. Start dividing your tasks into buckets of negotiable and nonnegotiable activities. Keep in mind that negotiable activities are ones that you may want to accomplish, but they will not set you back from achieving your primary goals if not completed. Organizing the pantry for example may be something you want to do, but unless it will directly get you closer to achieving your ultimate goals, it will keep you from them.

4. Delegate

In addition to dividing your activities between negotiable and nonnegotiable, consider whether or not you could get someone else to complete them for you, or if it would require you and you alone. An example of this could be hiring a company to clean your house so you can focus on business building activities that only you can accomplish. This is a very difficult thing for most entrepreneurs to do. Whether it is personal activities or professional, they have a hard time relinquishing control over things they have historically always done. Trust me when I tell you that not only will this free you up to do other more important things, but it will greatly reduce your stress level as well. Achieving your goals should be exciting, not stressful. If working toward your goals exhausts and discourages you, you will never make it to where you want to go. Be truly honest with yourself and list out the activities that could be completed by someone else. Anytime you are looking to make a change in your life, especially one that is going to require more of your time, you have to strategically replace some activities with others in order to get there.

strategyWith the right strategy, you can make sure you are part of the 8% of people who achieve the goals they strive to attain. For further help setting a path to achieve your goals, download the Strategy worksheet from The Results Map for Women in Biz. It will help you understand and organize your time to make sure you have a way to achieve them.