The new year is here, bringing with it a clean slate and endless possibility! There is no time that seems more right to make big goals for the future. But achieving those goals is a little harder than it looks. Oftentimes, by mid-January, our dreams have fallen by the wayside and the slog of daily life has set back in. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. 

Goal setting done right is the best way to make your dreams come true. If you are looking to set realistic goals, here are a few tips on goal setting to get you started. 

Stay Relevant

If you want to achieve a goal, the first way to ensure your success is to pick a goal that is relevant to your interests. If you have a passion for what you are trying to achieve, you are statistically more likely to achieve it. That could be anything from finally training to run a marathon to learning to bake your mom’s famous cookies. Take some time to sit and really think about what you deep down want to accomplish and go from there to formulate your goals for the year. 

Measure Your Progress

Another tip for goal setting is to choose goals with measurable ways to track your progress. Becoming a better cook is a great goal, but it is so subjective: How can you ever know you completed it? Instead, take your broader goal and break it down into concrete, measurable steps, like reading a cookbook and successfully preparing five new dishes. 

Edward Locke, a psychologist and goals researcher, found that over 90 percent of the time, specific goals increased a person’s likelihood to reach their overall goal. You should also give yourself a deadline for each of the steps. Deadlines can increase your motivation and keep you from stalling out before you complete your tasks.

Keep Yourself Accountable

Once you have figured out your personal dreams and set small manageable goals to work towards them, you need to actually make those goals happen. It is hard to keep yourself accountable on your own, so there are several methods that psychologists recommend to stay on track. 

First, write your goals, steps, and deadlines down. This allows you to visualize what you are working towards and takes your goals from the abstract to reality. “Seeing the goals and steps you have to take will keep you motivated and consistent to continue to work toward it,” states Catherine Jackson, licensed psychologist. You can also enlist the help of a friend to periodically check in with you. Having someone to report to may help you take your self-assigned tasks more seriously. 

Doing both of these things together is a recipe for successful goal setting. According to Dr. Gail Matthews, a clinical psychologist from Dominican University of California, people who (1) write their goals down, (2) share them with others, and (3) send weekly updates are 33 percent more successful in achieving their goals than those who do not.

Overall, if you choose relevant objectives, measure your progress, and stay accountable, nothing can stand in your way of achieving whatever you set your mind to! 2021 is definitely going to be your year!