What was the last goal you set? What was your New Year’s resolution? Did you accomplish it? As we approach the end of the year, people will be making new resolutions for things they want to accomplish or changes they want to make in their lives. But with such a high failure rate, less than 40% of people in their 40s complete their resolutions. This drastically drops as we get older, with only 14% of people in their 50s achieving their resolutions (you can find more of the data here). Why is it so easy for us to lose our way or give up? Simply put, we don’t make clear enough goals. Without a clear goal, timeline, and plan you are likely to fail. Below is a list of steps you can take to help make sure you follow through with your next resolution.

Choose something you care about

Most of us are easily influenced. Watching a movie about a rock star can make us want to learn to play the guitar. The problem is that feeling will wear off and you will eventually give up when you reach the first difficulty. If you have always wanted to learn the guitar, and it’s something you often think about, then go for it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try new things, but when you set something as a goal/resolution you should have a better reason than “it sounds like fun”. It should have a positive impact on your life. Decide how doing this will make your life better.

Be clear

Goals that aren’t clear can be changed or even forgotten. The more specific you make your goal the more likely you will follow through. If you are finding it difficult to make  your goal specific, then it might not have met the first criteria. People usually choose a goal such as: I want to lose weight. The problem is that you don’t know where the finish line is. I would ask “What is your target weight?”, “Are you looking to bulk up or just slim down”, “Why do you want to lose weight?”, “What will you do when you lose the weight”, “When is your deadline?”.

Choose a deadline

Choosing a deadline allows you to break what ever you are doing into smaller units and create a timeline. Without a date you can draw an activity out endlessly. If you plan to accomplish it in a year, you can break it into smaller pieces and set up landmarks to meet for each week or each month. You can then reward/punish yourself for making or not meeting them. Without a deadline, a goal is really more of an idea. Choose an agressive, but realistic deadline.

Do your research

There are many methods to do just about anything and they are not all equal. Take your time to find the best materials and methods. They may not be the most common. Choosing the wrong ones can mean the difference between easily achieving your goal or giving up.

Have a backup plan

What happens if you get off track. Your diet was going perfect and then the holidays came. It happens. Everything may not go perfectly. Have a backup plan for when you get off track. Also, schedule in times when you can get away from your goal (if it is something difficult) and go crazy.

So what is your goal for the New Year?