Setting goals is one of the most important things we can do in life, whether they’re short term ones (I need to paint the lounge room this Summer), or long term life goals (I’ve always wanted to write a book). Here are some great tips on the best ways to set goals, and how to write them in a way that actually helps you achieve them.

  1. Get clear about what you want to achieve.

“Spend more time with the family” is a great goal, but it’s vague. Try phrasing your goals as something actionable, and measurable. “Lock work computer in cupboard for weekends” is a good, positive spin on this same goal, and “Take kids and dog to park every Saturday” is also measurable and achievable. “Get better at housework” isn’t as useful as “vacuum living area twice a week”. “Save more money” can be rephrased as “add $20 from every pay to a Christmas Club account”. Can you see the difference between the dream and the action?

  1. Add a time-frame…and be realistic.

Lots of things are good ideas—but they’re not necessarily good ideas for now. Think deeply about how much you can accomplish of your goals in the time you have. Sure, you want your house renovated, but while you’re working all these hours is it something you can actually achieve this year? Consider either extending your time frame (make your 12 month goals part of a 5-year or 10-year plan), limiting your goals to something you know is achievable (with some stretch), or thinking outside the box about how you’re going to get them done.

  1. Unpack big goals into a series of little goals

Want to lose 20 kilos? Maybe goal #1 would be “join weightwatchers”, or “download calorie counting app on my phone”. These are specific, concrete things that will help you on your long-term weight-loss journey. Want to write a book? Set aside a time goal, half an hour per day, or a word-count or page goal. Figure out what you need to do to transform the overwhelming climb into a series of small steps, and list those steps as goals.

  1. Write your goals down.

This sounds almost so simple that it’s obvious, but there’s an enormous power in writing down your goals, putting them up somewhere that you’ll see them regularly, and reviewing them. Think outside the box, too: sometimes a piece of paper on the notice board is the best place for such things, but if your goal is to increase the number of ks you run, a post-it note near where you keep your jogging shoes may be a good reminder, or on the door of the fridge if your goal is to lose weight.

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  1. Tell somebody.

Accountability is one of the best tools ever for achieving success. You don’t have to broadcast on Facebook or tell everyone you see that you’re planning to quit smoking and join a gym (although sometimes this is a good idea). Telling a close friend, work colleague, or someone you trust, and asking them to check in with you regularly to see how you’re getting on can be a very powerful motivating force to do the right thing and change habits.

Over to you! Take charge of your 2016, and write down your goals today.