With the arrival of the New Year, many of us are reflecting on the past year and things we would like to do differently this year. Perhaps you would like to get better organized, or learn how to manage your time more wisely. Maybe getting out of debt is your number one priority. Some people may want to lead healthier lifestyles, or get their families involved in community outreach projects.

Whatever your goals are make sure they are well thought out. This includes creating a plan of action that identifies any obstacles that might get in the way. Very few people actually sit down and put their objectives into words, which makes it harder to put them into action. Here are some strategies to help get you started:

Think About the Big Picture

When thinking about your main objective think about it from a big screen perspective. For example, if you would like for you and your family to lead healthier lifestyles, imagine a positive environment with the family taking long bike rides or walks on the weekend, and then coming home to nosh on granola bars and fresh fruit afterwards.

Maybe you would like to step off the perpetual merry-go-round by creating a better balance between work and your personal life. Envision leaving the office at 6:00 p.m. every day and spending more time with your children or doing some volunteer work.

Break It Up

Once you know what your primary objective is break it into smaller “doable” chunks by creating an action plan. This can be done by making an outline of things you need to do to accomplish your goal and the time frame required to do them. The health nut wannabes could start out by committing to drinking 6-8 glasses of water every day for six weeks, then raising the bar to include juicing and protein shakes. The workaholics could change or reduce their work hours incrementally, and then 3-6 months later try telecommuting one or two days a week.

Do Your Homework

Once you have written down your goals and divided them into sub-goals, arm yourself with the necessary tools to accomplish your objective. Some of those tools may include reading books or taking specific classes. Perhaps creating a spreadsheet or writing things in a journal would help you to stay on track. Download helpful apps that are designed for people who want to quit smoking or manage their finances better, as well as many other topics of interest.

Stay on Target

Once you have jump started on your new goals for the future, keep the momentum going by checking on your action plan frequently. Depending on what your objectives are this could be daily, weekly, or monthly. Make tweaks along the way to keep from veering off course by adjusting time frames, and adding or modifying strategies. Consider talking with a counselor or therapist who can help you make an effective action plan and work toward goals, while providing much needed support.

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