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Strategies to achieve your goals in the year ahead

Writing down why you want to achieve certain goals can provide inspiration when challenges arise. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

When the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve, many of us were living it up and toasting the dawn of a new year. Come the afternoon of Jan. 1, however, those same people might have already shifted their focus to the year ahead.

January is a great time to establish professional and personal goals. Setting targets can have a greater impact than people may know. Studies examining the importance of goal-setting are few and far between, and some have even been revealed as fallacies after being accepted as authentic for years. But a 1979 study that asked newly-minted Harvard MBA graduates about the practice found that 13 per cent had set goals. When interviewers followed up with survey participants a decade later, they found that the 13 per cent who had set goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 per cent of participants who had established no specific intentions at all.

While there's no universal formula for success, successful people often cite the importance of setting goals, and how doing so was integral to their achievements. The following are some strategies that may help people meet their goals in the years ahead.

  • Make it a group effort – A 2013 study from a University of Connecticut researcher found that there is a high level of correlation between users' exercise activities and their participation in online health communities. Such communities served as motivation for people aiming to live healthier lives. Relying on others for support, insight and inspiration can be a great way to achieve your goals, no matter what those goals are.
  • Set goals big and small – No objective is too small, and no big undertaking should be considered beyond reach. In fact, achieving small goals can provide motivation and inspiration along the way to realizing your larger ambitions. Devise a one-month plan, a six-month plan and a 12-month plan for the year ahead. The one-year plan can serve as your big goal, while the one- and six-month plans can serve as small motivators and great ways to track your progress en route to achieving your larger objectives.
  • Write down why you're setting goals – People set goals for various reasons, and writing these reasons down can serve as inspiration when challenges arise. For example, if you aspire to change careers and spend more time with your family, making note of this can provide motivation to keep looking for opportunities when a job search stalls or feels fruitless.
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