What better way to start the new year than with clearly defined aspirations. Better yet, how about starting the new year with achievable aspirations!

We’ve all set goals that were never attained — losing weight, reducing debt, exercising… and we all know how frustrating it is to see the months of the year fly by without an inch of progress.

Have you considered what keeps you from achieving your goals year after year? You do! Consider this personal example: I set a goal last year to exercise three times weekly for at least 20 minutes. Just as I was about to hit my 30-days of sustained achievement I got the flu and was in bed for four days. Then, it took me another two weeks before I felt well enough to exercise, but by then I had lost the momentum and was reluctant to start over!

So, what got in my way? I did! I allowed myself to focus on the time I lost rather than focus on the time I had left.

If you lack the will to work toward your goals and focus on the potential versus the gap then you’ll never set resolutions that meet with success. That’s why it’s critical to think about what you really want to achieve. Set goals that you feel passionate about rather than ones that you have to force yourself to embrace.

To help you set achievable resolutions, I offer you these three steps:

1.  Find a quiet place and close your eyes. Breath deeply and visualize yourself in 2012. Ask your future self what three things you should focus on in the coming year. What does your future self say? Write down the guidance offered. Does it resonate? If so, you’ve got your list! If not, then take another deep breath and visualize flipping the switch to turn off your mind and imagine that you’ve turned on the switch to your heart. Ask your heart what three things you should focus on in 2012. What does your heart tell you? Write down the guidance offered. Now consider both lists and allow yourself to focus on the three that you have the most energy around.

2.  Now that you have your top three list, ask yourself why you want to achieve these things. It may sound silly, but it’s really important to connect with your goal and if you consider the “why” it helps connect you to the emotion behind the goal. If you don’t know why you want something then it probably isn’t a good goal for you to work toward because the energy won’t be there for you to carry it through to completion.

Back to my workout example from last year. The “why” for me was remembering how athletic I was growing up and as young adult and wanting to get back into form. I wanted to work out to rebuild my strength and stamina and to have more energy for my family and work. Let’s say that you want to replace the windows in your home in 2012. When you think about the “why” it could be something like: Because I want to save energy. Maybe your 2012 goal is to go back to school. The “why” might be: Because I want to add to my professional credibility and become more competitive in the workplace.

It’s important to note that when considering the “why,” you focus on the positive rather than the negative aspects. For example, if you want to go back to school because you’ve been passed over for promotion, that’s focusing on the negative aspect. If instead you focus on becoming more competitive in the workplace, that provides a subtle yet powerful shift of emotional energy putting you in a much better feeling space.

3.  And that brings us to our final, important step. How do you want to feel when you’ve achieved each goal? No, this isn’t a trick question but let me suggest that the answer is much deeper than, I want to feel good! Let’s go back to my workout example. I wanted to exercise more because I wanted to rebuild my strength and stamina and increase my energy. How I wanted to feel is proud of my body, sexy in my clothes and athletic. I wanted to feel inspirational to others!

Maybe you want to buy energy efficient windows because you want to feel like you are making a difference in the environment. Maybe you want to go back to school because you want to feel like you are maximizing your full potential. If considering the “why” helps connect you to the emotion behind the goal, naming how you want to feel nails the emotion right on the head!

So, close your eyes again and imagine you’ve achieved your goals. Now, for the next few minutes allow yourself to feel — really feel — the emotions attached to that achievement. Aaaah! Doesn’t it feel wonderful!

Following these three steps will help you set goals that are achievable. And, because they stem from your spirit and/or heart, they truly resonate with you and will be easier to work on throughout the year.

Sheila Callaham is an author and founder of Magnetize Success, a coaching resource helping you live the life you truly desire. Sheila has a limited number of spaces for individual clients seeking a success coach in 2012. Please email [email protected] for more information.

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