The beginning of a new year is a great time to evaluate what's important to you, and to establish some new habits that will help you reach your goals.
Unfortunately, most of us set New Year's resolutions every January that are forgotten by February. Here are some suggestions on how to buck this trend and improve your chances of meeting your 2014 goals.
1. Set realistic goals that you truly want to achieve. You need to be deeply committed to your goals or you won't have the dedication to make the sacrifices and do the work required to achieve them. Evaluate what is important to you and what you really want to accomplish. If you are excited about the prospect of achieving your goals, you are more likely to do what is required to reach them.
2. Limit yourself to one or two major goals. If you set too many goals for the year, you will have difficulty focusing on all of them, and you can become disillusioned. You may also find that you aren't fully committed to the effort of reaching a long list of goals. Focus on a few high-priority goals that you can realistically attain.
3. Develop an action plan to meet your goals. It's difficult to achieve a big goal without establishing a plan that includes detailed action steps and milestones. Most goals require specific, measurable changes in behaviors and habits. An action plan can help you make these changes. You need to identify steps to take and a time frame in which they should be completed.
4. Put your goals in writing and share them. Write down your goals and action plans and keep them where you will frequently see them. If possible, find an accountability partner to help keep you on track. Share your action plans and timetable with your accountability partner, and establish a schedule to provide him or her with status updates.
5. Monitor and evaluate your progress. Are your original goals still realistic and attainable, or do you need to make adjustments? Evaluate your action plan and timetable to be sure they are leading you down the path toward your objective. If you consistently miss your milestones, you may need to revise your action plan.
6. Reward yourself for achieving major milestones and goals. Achieving a major goal often requires successfully making a lot of baby steps toward changing old habits. Reward and congratulate yourself as you meet milestones along the way. Before you get started, decide on a significant reward to give yourself when you achieve a major goal.
Jane Young is a certified financial planner. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.