It’s that time of year again when we start thinking about setting realistic goals. As the new year approaches it’s only natural that we look ahead and start thinking about the resolutions we’d like to set for 2017. Of course, looking forward is usually preceded by looking back. Most people don’t achieve the goals they set for 2016 so they become the resolutions for 2017.

Why We Fail

Nearly 45% of us set New Year’s Resolutions and only 8% of us actually achieve those goals. Why is there such a large discrepancy between the two numbers?

Most of us fail at achieving our goals, be they New Year’s Resolutions or simply a goal we’ve set out to achieve, because we have nothing more than the desire to reach the intended goal.

Don’t get me wrong, without an intense and passionate desire, you won’t likely reach your goal. Of course, if you don’t have an intense and passionate desire, you probably don’t have a goal in mind.

Desire and passion are absolutely important to achieving any goals that you set, but without a detailed plan and some self-discipline, the odds of reaching it are small.

The good news is, it doesn’t take much additional effort to make the shift into behaviors that will assure you reach your goals. The key is to set realistic goals and to stay focused as you work your way in that direction.

Setting Realistic Goals

Start Small – You wouldn’t sign up to climb Mount Everest if you’d never even taken a hike before. You wouldn’t run a marathon without running a few 5Ks first. The key to achieving your goals is to set achievable goals and that means to start small. Choose a goal you know you can reach. If you want to lose 30lbs, then do something towards that goal like cutting out between meal snacks. When you’ve kicked the snacking habit to the curb start another achievable goal like walking a couple of miles each week or going to the gym a few times each week. Build on your success with the small goals and you’ll be well on your way to reaching your bigger goal.

Write it Down – Surveys show that if you write down your wishes, desires or goals that you are much more likely to actually achieve them. Writing it down makes it a real thing. Before you put it on paper it’s simply an idea. Jotting it down and reflecting on it helps to turn it into a real thing that you can see and touch.

Be Specific – The more specific you can be about what you desire the more likely you are to manifest it into existence. Let’s go back to our goal of losing weight. If you want to lose weight you should set a specific number of pounds or dress sizes you want to lose. Having something to measure your goal by is very powerful as you start achieving it. Losing just two pounds can be incredibly motivating for someone who has only witnessed the number on the scale increase for the past several years.

Set a Date – Keeping with our example – if you want to lose 30lbs it will help if you set a date that you would like to see that number on the scale. Make it reasonable. It could be the date of the high school reunion this summer or maybe there’s a wedding this spring and you want to look your best. Having a date in mind keeps you motivated because the goal is pressing.

Make the Time – If you don’t schedule in to your daily routine time to work on your goal you may as well not bother setting them. If you want to lose 30 pounds you’re going to have to do things differently than you’ve been doing them. That could include going to the gym, joining a support group, walking around the lake each day, taking a cooking or nutrition class, whatever it is, you’ll need to carve out time in your schedule each day to dedicate to achieving your new goal.

Choose your Goals – Finally, make sure you’re setting goals that you want to achieve. We all know we should lose weight, eat more healthy, spend less time on social media, spend more time reading, etc… But if you want to achieve anything in life it has to be because you want it, not because you think you should want it.