Goals are great – they help you get organized, commit to important decisions and realize your dreams.  But unless you know how to properly define and achieve them, you’re more likely to fail than to succeed.

Don’t be a New Year’s resolution statistic!  Before you make a single promise to yourself, read this article.  In it, you’ll learn the essential skills needed to set and reach your goals – every time.

Goal setting helps us determine our priorities, get organized, make big decisions, and realize our dreams. When you set a goal, you should be setting an exciting challenge for yourself. Here’s how!

1. Make Your Goals Your Own — Be sure your ambition is what you really want, not something based on the expectations of others. Define what YOU want and go after it.

2. Make Them Specific — In order to reach your goal, you need to know, and remind yourself, of exactly what you want to accomplish. Be specific! If you want to lose 8 pounds and reach a weight of 175, specify those exact numbers. If you want to save $200 a month, be exact. Your brain can help you accomplish almost anything if it knows precisely what you’re aiming for.

3. Write Them Down — Achievers always know exactly what they want, because they’ve written it down. The act of writing your goals down vastly increases your chance of success. Review them weekly if not daily.

4. Make Them Positive — Write your goal list with an energetic, positive mindset to match the energy you need to achieve it. You won’t be able to muster the enthusiasm, hard work and courage to reach your goals if you don’t really care about them.

5. Make Them Measurable — There is a saying “What gets measured, gets done.” So define your goals in terms of weight, dollars, inches or hours. Then measure your progress until you achieve your desired outcome.

6. Share Your Goals — You’ll be more likely to stick to your plan and reach your goals if you know your friends and family support you. Share them with people who will cheer you on and encourage you every step of the way. You have no time for those will tease you or discourage you. You’re on a mission!

7. Make Them Rational — To reach your goals, you’ll need a plan, a path and a means of getting down that path. Your goals need to make sense, and when you explain them to your friends and family, they should create excitement, support and encouragement. Your goals should be just out of reach, but not out of sight.

Taking the time to think through your goals and plan them can make the difference between success and failure. So don’t just fill your head with vague thoughts of improvement: sit down and make a plan. And don’t forget to check on your own progress regularly!