Since we came back from the new year break, I've been asking all my practice members this question: "what's your resolution?" I'm surprised, that the most common answer so far has been, "oh, I don't believe in those".

I suppose it really shouldn't be surprising that less and less people are taking part in the tradition - only about 8% of Americans are successful in achieving their resolutions anyway and I'm assuming the statistics are similar in Canada.

What I'm really asking, however, when I say, "what's your resolution", is "what are your goals for this year?"<!--more-->

There's a reason this tradition has persisted for so many years. Goal setting and vision casting is an extremely important step in embarking on any new venture - a new year, new job, new project, the list goes on. To get the most out of it, you have to first establish what it is that you want. Once you know this, you can take action to start moving towards it.

Setting goals can be extremely challenging, so it's okay to feel intimidated by it at first. I personally have felt almost handicapped when it comes to goal setting in the past, so here's some strategies to help you get started and, most importantly, take ACTION on your new 2016 goal(s):

1) Consider your life in different categories, and start by focusing on just one aspect

Rather than becoming daunted by ALL the things you want to do and achieve this year (lose weight, travel, get a promotion, get married etc etc), break your life down into the following categories for simplicity's sake:

Health

Intellect

Inner State

Family

Relationships

Career

Finances

Legacy

Out of this list, choose ONE aspect to focus on (you may wish to set goals in all of these categories later on, but for now let's start small and just pick one). Struggling to decide where to start? Ask yourself, "what category is going to have the most significant positive impact on my life if I were to reach my goals in that category?"

2) Ask yourself, "what needs to be different in one year's time in order for me to be truly happy with my progress?"

Be as specific as possible - try to imagine meeting your future-self, having completed that goal - what do they look like? How do they walk and talk? How are they different from where you are now?

Write down your description of that person, beginning every sentence with "I am..." This is going to start to shift your mindset in the right direction and help you overcome any inertia which is keeping you where you are right now. Remember, every piece of detail you write down adds more clarity and specificity to your goal.

3) The description you just wrote down is now the basis for your 2016 goals in that category! The next step is to make sure your goal(s) is realistic

Unfortunately, most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year, and are left disappointed in the end that they didn't reach their target. Your goal should make you uncomfortable, while still being achievable within the space of a year. You may also want to break this goal down in to weekly or monthly increments if you're questioning whether or not it's physically possible - its easier to predict where you'll be in a month than a year. If you're weekly/monthly progress seems attainable, you'll probably still be on pace to reach your goal in a year.

4) Take ACTION

Now that you have a clear goal in mind, its time to lay out action steps to take to move you towards that goal. The best action steps are ones you can orient around you daily or weekly routine - sometimes its easier to make a small change, repeated frequently, than a drastic change performed occasionally.

Not sure how to reach your goal? That's okay, ask for help! There are hundreds of life coaches and business coaches out there that would love to help you, come to our next Think By Design workshop!

5) Be accountable

One of the most powerful tools for affecting change in your own life is to tell other people your goals and timelines, and then have them hold you to your word. Not only will they ask you about it and help keep you on track, there’s a chance your leadership may even inspire them to join the mix and start taking charge of their own life.