How are you going on your New Year’s resolutions? If you are like an estimated 93 percent of the population, you have abandoned those fine aspirations generated so earnestly in December. Despair not, however; in this article we look at why you should revive your resolutions, turning them into goals. We identify the areas of life where that would be helpful and offer an exercise you can do to bring your goals into sharper focus, giving you greater clarity of purpose.

Why set goals?

You may ask, why bother to set goals – meaning, written goals? Self-improvement speaker Brian Tracy notes that only 3 percent of adults have written goals, but “this 3 percent earn more than all of the other 97 percent put together”. Tracy explains that a clear goal keeps you from being side-tracked by distractions. You are here on this planet for the duration. What will you do with the time? Who will you become? What will your legacy be? Knowing these answers will help you attract and generate that which will enrich and enliven your days, bringing satisfaction, fulfilment, and joy. Your outer life will align with your inner values and you will be living in greater wholeness.

Being forced to get clear enough on what you want in order to write it down focuses the way you go about gathering information and directs your actions, which in turn helps you to organise your time and resources in order to maximise desired outcomes. Setting lifetime goals generates the long-term vision for your life, and when you break down the big, whole-of-life goals into smaller units – ones that you can accomplish next month/next week/tomorrow – your motivation is maintained and increased. Clearly defined, measurable goals allow you to see your progress, taking pride in your achievements and giving impetus to effort that otherwise might seem like pointless toil. As you notch up different “goals met” on your belt of accomplishments, your competence, sense of mastery, and self-esteem go up as well.

Raising the odds by 1000 percent

Goal-setting experts claim that the mere act of writing one’s goals, making plans for accomplishing them, and then working on them daily, increases by 1000 percent (that is, ten times) the likelihood of achieving them. Written goals do not guarantee success, but they vastly increase the probability of accomplishing your aims. Writing involves your mind/brain, eyes, and hands, sending a message to your subconscious mind: “This is important; go gather up the energy to manifest this.” The subconscious mind then goes to work 24/7 to bring your goal into reality.

Goals for each realm of life

Each goal strand should be set on several levels: from lifetime goals – the broad, whole-of-life, “big picture” aims – all the way down to the tasks you commit to accomplishing from your daily list. All levels are important, but today we look at the broad, lifetime goals, as these relate most closely to your long-term vision. You should have goal(s) for each area of your life, as lifegoals give you the holistic perspective that shapes all other aspects of your goal-setting.

How you carve up the various life realms is up to you, but here are two possibilities. The Wheel of Balance. Asteron Life recently introduced the “Wheel of Balance”, an ‘interactive self-assessment tool’ asks users to reflect on how fully they are engaging with each of eight areas: fun, relationships, finance, career/business, family, creativity, health/self-care, spirituality/personal growth. Mind Tools’ scheme includes the eight above and adds in the areas of service/contribution, and education. Try it out!

Generating goals: An exercise in two parts

Here is a goal-setting challenge.

Part One: Generate and select. Set a timer for five minutes and push yourself to come up with a goal or goals for each of the above areas (don’t fret about how you will achieve these; now is about what you will go for). Write between 10 and 15 goals. Then select the one goal that, if you were suddenly granted the ability to completely achieve this goal within 24 hours, would have the greatest positive impact on your life. Which goal, fully achieved, would most greatly assist your ability to achieve your other goals? This goal becomes your “Major Definite Purpose” and the focal point of future activities.

Part Two: Major Definite Purpose Mindstorming. Now take another sheet of paper and write out your Major Definite Purpose in the form of a question. For example, if your Major Definite Purpose goal is to become a life coach with a fulltime private practice, you might write, “How can I become a fully self-employed life coach by (date)?” Then you discipline yourself to generate 20 (yes, 20!) answers to your question, even if some seem weird or impractical. The first few will be easy, the next bunch you will get with some effort, and some of the last ones may require persistence. This sort of exercise unleashes a huge amount of creativity.

Don’t just stick this great work away in a drawer. Post it where you can see it frequently to remind yourself where you are headed. You will love the sense of mastery, wholeness, and satisfaction that arises as your goals come to fruition – totally apart from making you part of the 3 percent!

Written by Dr Meg Carbonatto B.S., M.A., and Ph.D.

This article was originally published in Asteron Life’s Balance BlogAIPC regularly contributes to Balance’s wellbeing blog category.