I am a huge proponent of goal setting.  Setting goals focuses us on what’s important and helps drown out the distractions that can pull us off course. When I was in graduate school, I set a very specific (and challenging) goal to finish my coursework, thesis, and preliminary exams in three years while commuting over an hour each way to school.  During those long drives to and from school, the Virginia landscape would fade into the background as I listed to recorded classroom lectures and talked myself through complicated theories.  I had a goal.


One of the most common annual goal setting exercises is the New Year’s Resolution.


However, many people find that these resolutions invoke memories of past failures rather than promote pathways to an improved self.


It can be difficult to achieve a goal that seems so simple when you are standing at a holiday party with a glass of eggnog in your hand.  Perhaps that’s why only 12% of people achieve their New Year’s Resolutions.


How do we join the 12% club?


Let’s assume that failure to achieve a single resolution does not destine us to fail in business or life.  We achieve business goals all the time.  We finish projects, get promoted, get new jobs, etc.  Maybe by examining our past successes, we can pick up pointers that will help us achieve our New Year’s Resolutions.


What secrets of prior success will help us achieve our goals and resolutions?


When we prioritize, we are productive.  When we don’t, we are merely busy.  Pick one significant goal and focus on it.

Break it down. 

When we are confronted with a huge project, we break it into manageable steps. There are 12 months in every year.  Separate your goal into phases.

Go for a quick win. 

Quick wins help us stay motivated on a long term project.  Pick a meaningful early reward for yourself for staying on track.

Write it out. 

Mom always said, “Prior planning precludes a pitifully poor performance.”  A goal without a written plan is like a body without bones.

Share it. 

There is no ability like accountability.  Find an accountability partner who will support you in your goal-related efforts with positive encouragement.

Focus on results. 

Results are motivational, activities are not.  You set this goal for a reason (better health, happiness, success).  Remind yourself that your efforts are bringing the results you want.


I work with incredibly successful people who struggle with disorganization.  Instead of relying on systems that work for them, they resort to use tools that do not mesh with the way they think and work.


Goal achievement is the same way.  First, ask yourself, “What has worked for me before?”  Then take those techniques and use them to help you achieve your goals.

Set Goals eBook

Are you ready to finally achieve what you set out to do?

Read my eBook Set Goals…even if you’re not convinced you’ll achieve them.

Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.