How to Set Goals that You Can Accomplish

Resolutions Are Meant to be Broken… Resolutions are always made with good intentions. I’m not sure any of us say things with the blatant intent on not following through – especially when they involve bettering our lives. Unfortunately, New Years resolutions are notorious with empty promises and unfulfilled dreams.

After years of making other resolutions and accomplishing none of them, I took some advice from a couple of blogs and tried to find ways to help me accomplish my resolutions for the year.

There was a year that I posted my resolutions on the mirror in my bathroom.

That didn’t work. It just became a section of the mirror that I could no longer use…so I had to slide an extra foot to the left every day for an entire year until I finally decided to pull it down.

One year I even wrote my resolutions on an index card and put it on the dashboard in my car.

Again, nothing changed and none of them were accomplished.

Where Did I Go Wrong?

I eventually realized that the way I handled resolutions was very similar to the way I handled other promises and goals in my life.

Over time I began to recognize that I wasn’t going anywhere. Days, weeks, months, and years rolled by and nothing ever seemed to change. I still was struggling with money, being lazy and not working out, eating poorly, etc.

I did a lot of talking – a lot of dreaming – but I never took any tangible steps to get there.

I was the guy that made promises to my wife (girlfriend at the time) and to my family, but never followed through. I was the guy that was late to just about every appointment I set (outside of business). I was the guy that had high hopes and dreams for my life and myself, but I always seemed to disappointment.

It wasn’t because the intent wasn’t there…it was simply because I lacked follow through and discipline.

The cliche says something like you’re only as good as your word. Well, my words sounded great, but they meant nothing. I was all about the talk and nothing about taking tangible action.

When I started to figure that out, I started to change. The past two years I haven’t set any resolutions, I set goals.

Like records in sports, resolutions are meant to be broken.

Today, when I set goals, they get done.

Over time I simply realized that my problem wasn’t that I lacked the ability to accomplish the goals I set each year. The problem, when it came down to it, was that I just didn’t want to accomplish those goals bad enough. I didn’t want to make the sacrifices (i.e. time, effort, energy) that coincided with achieving those goals.

Once I made that realization I really got frustrated with myself. Because, you see, I WANT to be successful. I WANT to inspire change. I WANT to provide for my family. I want to live a healthy life. I WANT to be a great friend, brother, husband, son, employee, and Christian. I WANT to help other people.

In order to do that though, and to continue to do that, I must be willing to make sacrifices. I must be willing to do what’s necessary to get things done.

It’s that simple. You either want something, or you don’t. And if you truly WANT something, then you must be willing to make the sacrifices that those goals demand. If you’re not, then you’ll just have more empty resolutions.

Steps For Tangible Change

Dave Ramsey loves to say that “the difference between a dream and a goal, is a plan.”

Zig Ziglar’s quote always brings truth too: “if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time.”

Don’t be “that guy.” The one that breaks promises to your loved ones and yourself. Don’t have the same resolutions in 2013 as you have this year (because you didn’t accomplish any of them). Don’t be the guy that stands still as the world passes you by.

Be the guy that sets out on a mission and does what’s necessary to get it done. Be accountable to yourself, your family, and your future.

Here are 6 steps to help you set goals for 2012 that you can accomplish:

1. Make the decision if you’re going to be “that guy” that is all talk and no action. That guy that only makes promises and never delivers. Draw a line in the sand and step over it. Make the decision now as to whether or not you’re willing to make the sacrifices that your goals demand. Say goodbye to the rat race and say hello to progress and tangible change.

2. Now that you’ve made the decision that you’re going to do what’s necessary to accomplish your goals, write a couple down. I believe that if a goal isn’t written down then it really isn’t a goal; it’s just another empty resolution.

If you want to write them down on a piece of a paper and tape them onto your mirror, then go for it! I’ll just fill you in on a little secret I discovered: doing that by itself doesn’t mean anything will change (or get accomplished). Although it could serve as a daily reminder of the promises you made.

3.Be realistic with your goals. Instead of quitting smoking completely, focus on smaller steps: start by getting down to a 1/2 pack a day. Then when February rolls around, if you’ve gotten that far, then set a new goal of quitting completely.

If you need help with money or are struggling financially, then your goal shouldn’t be to completely turn your life around this year. Just focus on taking one step in the proper direction. Something that you can accomplish. It doesn’t have to be your only goal for the year, but once you’ve accomplished that goal, sit down and make a new one. You don’t only have to create goals once a year. I set goals every day, week, and month.

4. After you’ve written down a couple of goals, write a tangible step you’re going to take to accomplish that goal. Write a specific action that will help you accomplish what you’ve set out to do.

For instance, if you want to work out this year, decide which days/times you’re going to go, and work on finding a workout partner. If your goal is to start reading, then designate a few days and times each week to read.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll try to find reasons why you can’t accomplish your goals. The one I always fell back on was that ‘I didn’t have enough time. I’m simply too busy.’ I actually still use that to this day. While I have no doubt you’re busy (because everybody is), in his book, Quitter, Jon Acuff said it well: “you have the perfect amount of time each day for the things that matter most.”

If you’re serious about change, and about your goals, you’ll make the time. If you’re doubting yourself, or finding reasons to why you can’t accomplish your goals, then go back to Step #1 and start this process over.

5. Find an accountability partner. I’ll speak from experience here: going to the gym by yourself (at least as you’re getting started) is very difficult. There is little motivation and zero accountability. Find a workout partner – maybe your spouse, a co-worker, or just a friend.

Regardless if your goal is to workout, you should share all of your goals for 2012 with somebody. Make that person hold you accountable to you, your family, and your future. Find a person that is willing to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.

6. Read Step #1 again. A new day, month, and year bring new opportunities. 2012 will either be a year you accomplish some goals and take steps forward, or it will be a year of broken promises and unfulfilled dreams.

Don’t be “that guy” this year.

Be driven. Be accountable. Set Goals. Execute.

About the Author

By , on Dec 26, 2011
Andy Tenton
Andy is a 30-something New Yorker who turned his financial life around. He took charge of his finances, got out of debt, and is now working his way toward financial success. He is the publisher of

How to Become Rich e-Course

Budgeting 101


  1. Chad Smith says:

    Great post Andy. Its nice to see these tangible steps from a guy who models it.

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