We understand all too well about New Year resolutions and setting personal goals. It’s almost a predictable topic of discussion at this time of the year. However, like phases, if truth be told, the hype often doesn’t last long, and the goals get swept away with the passing of time without any goal realisations.

Here’s how to set personal goals – and achieve them.

Step 1: Identify what you want

Do you know what you want? If you are not sure, then it is hard to know when you have actually attained it. This first step is to think about what you want that will make you truly happy. You need to be clear about it, no wishy-washy business.

Step 2: Think of the “big picture” goals

Now that you have the ultimate goal, you need to set big-picture goals, aka (also known as) life goals. Know what you want to achieve in the different aspects of your life. Think of your education – what marks do you need to get this year at high school to pursue your desired career path?

What do you need to achieve your fitness targets that go beyond making it to the school athletics team and achieving a healthy lifestyle? What are your ultimate financial goals?

It helps if the goals you are setting are the ones that you truly want to achieve (and not the ones your parents want you to achieve on their behalf).

Step 3: Set smaller goals

You need to have small goals in place to achieve your big-picture goals. Break your goals into smaller chunks. Formulate a daily and weekly do-to list. Create monthly plan goals.

Formulate a six-month plan goal and so forth. Your daily plan goal can be to add an extra 30 minutes towards studying at home, sit with a tutor every second week, or to sit with your pals in a study group every month…etc.

These little goals feed to your ultimate plan of say, passing your matric well and qualifying for your study program, which in turn could lead to you studying and acquiring your dream job and ultimately your financial goals. This can also feed towards achieving your family and relationship goals too.

Remember why you started. Maybe your ultimate goal is to make things better at home by beating unemployment as a young entrepreneur and being financially in charge.

Step 4: Think of “SMART” goals

Your goals need to be SMART. By this, we mean: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This helps to give you a sense of direction and brings your goals a shot at moving from intangible to achievable goals.

Step 5: Prioritise

Contrary to popular belief, things don’t just happen. Or at least, they should not just happen.

If you have several goals, you need to know which goals are more of a priority and put them in a timeline. For example, you may want to pass the quarter with improved marks, then to ace the year, pass matric, qualify for your tertiary studies, graduate, get or create a job and so forth.

Step 6: Formulate an action plan

Don’t just set goals and wish for things to be different. So many people make this mistake, and nothing ever ‘just’ changes.

Be truthful to yourself as you formulate a realistic plan which incorporates your limitations, resources, opportunities, and individual steps that will help you get to your ultimate goal. Tick them off as you achieve them.

Step 7: Keep your eyes on the action plan

Just because you set a goal doesn’t mean that it will happen. You need to hang on to your goal, no matter what. Set reminders and print it out. Do whatever is needed to keep it top of mind and to focus on the plan no matter how tough it can be.

Step 8: Track your progress

Writing down your goals and the plans and processes to reaching them is important. It, therefore, becomes important to re-visit your goals every now and then. Know if you are making progress or regressing. You can download various apps to help you check your progress, or simply use a pen and paper to jot down your progress.

While this can help you to set your goals, only you can take accountability when it comes to actually going out there, giving your all, making hard decisions and sticking to the plan long enough until you reach it.

Remember, fulfilling goals does not just happen personally – or in the community, such as matters like improving the entrepreneurial landscape for young entrepreneurs. A plan is needed. A plan, that is backed up by action.