For a lot of people the traditional time to set a goal is New Year’s Day. However you do not necessarily need to wait until the start of the year to make a new start for yourself! In effect you can set yourself goals and give yourself the best chance of achieving them. Little steps can make a massive difference!

Big Picture v Small Steps

There is no shame in dreaming big! Most people have some kind of big ambition they wish to achieve. The problem is that people often get demotivated if they do achieve an ambition at a certain time. For example instead of saying “I would like to make money as a professional singer” they say to themselves “If I don’t get a number 1 album by the time I am 30 then I have failed as a person.”

It is also a matter of perspective. As well as thinking about yourself think about what you want to do for other people. For example if you want to provide for your family then you need to think about whether your current job is giving you that. Equally you have to think about whether you are personally satisfied and what you would rather do instead.

This is where the small steps come in. You need to build up in order to make a change. For example if you want to become an actor then you cannot simply turn up at a studio and beg for a job. You would need to go to a drama school or get work as an extra. As you build up your experience this would then allow you to contact an agent.

Do Not Fear Failure

One thing that puts people off is a very scary F word “failure”. If you want to achieve something the fear of what could go wrong can often stop people trying to do something new in the first place. Do not be that person!

This is why the best method is to break your big goal into small chunks. One noted method is what is known as the SMART method-

S= Make the goal specific. Do not just say “I want to lose weight”. Say “I want to lose weight before summer” or “I will go to an evening exercise class*. This will make it easier to achieve the goal.

M= Make the goal easy to measure. For example if you want to cut down on drinking don’t just say “I will drink less.” Say “I will only drink at the weekends” or “I will only drink alcohol twice a week.”

A= A goal should be attainable. If you are a writer concentrate on getting your work finished rather than say “I will write the next Great Gatsby!”

R= Is the goal you set yourself relevant? Sometimes people can get distracted by things that ultimately are not important in terms of the overall bigger picture. Think about what is relevant and what is wasting your time!

T= Think of your goals in terms of time. Be realistic- You will not be an admiral in the Navy in a year but it may be possible to join the Navy and get trained up in that time. You may then say “In ten years’ time I aim to get the highest rank possible.”


You need to consider what goal is most important to you. The chances are you will not be able to achieve everything you set out to do. Therefore focus on what is most important to you in a particular moment.

For example if you are unemployed then you should focus your energy on getting a job. Getting new qualifications, working on your resume and interview technique would all help with this. This doesn’t stop you joining an evening exercise class or learning how to paint but you do have to consider what is most constructive at each particular point.

Things Change

Goals and targets change over time. This doesn’t mean you always excuse anything by saying “I have missed my own personal deadline” or “I’m too old”. What it does mean is that sometimes you may have to adapt.

For example if you are in your mid 40s then the chances are you will not be able to become a pacy winger for a soccer team. But this would not stop you becoming a coach for a youth team or volunteering to help run a local community project.

In short if you are willing to put in time and effort you can achieve your goals. Remember you do not need to wait until the New Year to make a new difference in your life!

By Chad Willis

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