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We are now a few days into the New Year… and how are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions?

Goals can be a powerful way to achieve your success. However, once you set your goals, you do need to work at it to make it happen. Otherwise a dream will never become a reality but will always remain a dream without setting a few simple goals. This is true for both our personal and professional lives.

Over the years, I’ve found that it helps to be selective about New Year’s goals and to think about how to implement them. If you want action, you need an action plan. Goal setting is the best way I know to transform woolly resolutions into bottom-line results. Research shows that when entrepreneurs set measurable goals for themselves, they’re more like to achieve them.  That’s why I’ve decided to share with you my 7 top goal setting tips that really work.

Top goal setting tips

1. Record your goals and action plans on paper. Simply writing them down will help you put some meat on the bones of your ideas. Once your plans are complete, you’ll have a detailed map with directions to follow.

2. Review your goals and plans regularly. Make a monthly, if not weekly, appointment with yourself or with a team member to review. This will help to keep you focused throughout the year.  Your work or personal plans can be built around your goals so that you are always moving toward your goals. Goals are integral to your plans, not additional things that you have to do.

3.  Choose goals that excite you and stretch you — but also are within reach. Focus on attainable goals that you can realistically reach within the year. You want to create a habit of being successful in accomplishing your goals. If your goals are always out of reach and unachievable, you risk creating a habit of failure.

4. Develop an action plan for your goals. Write down exactly what you’re going to need to do in order to achieve the goal. If you were going to start a business and wanted to gain funding, you would obviously need to have a business plan to show that you are a serious business person. Why not take the same seriousness and apply it to your goals.

5. Make your goals SMART. Keep your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Example, Rather than ‘have a social media presence’, go for something like ‘gain 500 Twitter followers by March’.

6. Set deadlines along the way with a timeline for completing steps towards a goal gives you an action plan. If you have one big goal, try breaking it down into smaller chunks and setting shorter term goals that will ultimately lead up to you accomplishing the big one.

7. Share your goals with others. Having someone that holds you to account for your goals is a very powerful way to stay on track. This will increase your chances of accomplishing your goal. The best thing is to get a coach, my client’s say that having a coach who holds them accountable for progress towards their goals, really helps them to achieve success.

Good luck for a successful 2014

Gillian Kitchen MA, ILM, is a personal & leadership coach