My friend Dominick Evans wrote about his New Year’s resolutions on his blog yesterday. I commented with some of my own resolutions, but that’s not what this post is about.

New Year’s Resolutions are goals, it’s as simple as that. The beginning of a new year is a convenient time to set goals. The issue is, how many of those goals go by the wayside because reality sets in, you get frightened, then just sit back in your old ways again within the first week or two?

It’s one thing to define a goal (and that’s a very important step). It’s entirely another to carry it through. One of the goals I’ve had some success with in the past is weight loss. A couple of years ago I was at the highest weight I’d ever been. I knew I had to do something when I could no longer shop at the stores I liked anymore, because they didn’t have a size big enough for me. I dropped 35lbs and 6 sizes over the course of 5 months. I was still a little over my ideal weight, but I was really happy with my newer, slimmer self.

Over the past little while, my weight has crept up again, not quite to the extent it was before, but enough that I can see where I’m headed. So this time, I am going to make it to my ideal weight, so I’m taking on Tom Leroux’s 25lb challenge.

I have many goals right now, some professional, some personal. The weight loss thing is really personal for me. I stand up in front of people all the time to give presentations and teach, and at times, I confess I do feel a bit self conscious. I have a closet full of beautiful clothes that don’t fit me properly. And, I’m closer to 40 than I am to 30, so the less load I have to carry around the better for my health in general.

Got goals? Here’s what it takes to make them reality:

Write them down and make them public. Experts always say that the best way to make your goals real is to write them down. I agree, but you should consider taking this one step further. Tell other people. I have a goal to do more public speaking next year. Now, if I kept that goal to myself, how much success do you think I’d have?

I’m not saying that just because I make my goals public that speaking opportunities are just going to fall in my lap. But when you verbalize something, two interesting things happen. One, you’ve tossed it out to the universe, and that’s pretty powerful in itself. Two, you make it real not only to yourself but to other people. And other people might just be the ones to help you achieve that goal, whether by helping you to learn to be a better public speaker or helping to bring new opportunities your way. Note – it’s still up to you to take action on any help you are given – nobody can achieve your goals for you!

Goals don’t achieve themselves. Funny thing about goals – you can set them all you want, but if you just walk away, remarkably, they don’t happen. The way to achieve a goal is to take action. Take weight loss as an example. I can make up my mind to lose 20, 30, 50lbs, but if I still continue to eat fatty, high calorie foods then that goal is just going to sit there (and probably get farther away as the weight piles on). Goals only get achieved when you take concrete steps to achieve them. Once you’ve defined your goals, figure out what steps you need to take to achieve them. Then TAKE THOSE STEPS.

Goals take work. It takes focus, determination and above all, work, to achieve your goals. I want to be a better guitar player. Well, I’m not going to get any better at it unless I sit my butt in the chair and practice. I don’t really like practicing guitar, in some ways. When I get a new song to try, and I’m not good at it right away, I get frustrated. When I’m around my super talented guitar playing friends, I feel like I’m never going to be that good.

Sometimes, I want to give up entirely. But I keep working on it. And working on it. And working on it. And eventually, I get better at it. Eventually, I can play it well. Eventually, I’ll even be able to play it on a stage in front of people. And then I’ll have achieved my goal!

Don’t fear work. Embrace it as part of the process. You may even find yourself enjoying it.

In 2009, take a different approach to your goals. I’m going to. Don’t just set them. Ingrain them in who you are. Make a commitment to yourself that you are going to achieve more than you ever thought possible this year.

If you want to talk about your goals for 2009,  head over to Dominick’s blog and leave a comment. Then come back here and in the comments below, tell us how you are planning to achieve those goals.

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