Welcome to the time of year when we set our goals for the new year.

If you haven't started yet, don't worry. There's plenty of time. In fact, I'm about to share with you five steps you can take to set and achieve your goals for the new year.

I was inspired by a TEDx talk that I watched recently by Stephen Duneier called How to Achieve Your Most Ambitious Goals. And these five steps are a combination of my takeaways from his talk and some of the things that I found to be useful in setting and achieving goals in the past.

1. Set Big Goals

Step one is to set a big goal. One that you're going to be really jazzed about. One where you feel like you got to rise to the occasion. One that captures your imagination. That's going to be a lot more fun, and interesting, and motivating to work on than something that's just incremental and unexciting.

In my case, instead of setting a goal of growing my business by 10 to 20%, I'm thinking instead, “maybe I could double my business this year”. In fact, I'm even thinking, “maybe I could 10x my business this year.”

Just by thinking in such a big, ambitious way about my goals, it's causing me to make a step change in my thinking and in my actions.

2. Create a Success Path

Now, to make sure you're not setting yourself up for failure, step two is to set up a success path. When you create a success path, that simply means chunking down your big goal into smaller manageable steps.

Stephen Duneier talks about it as even making “tiny tweaks” that nudge you in the right direction. This is the opposite of what some of us did back in school, which was cram for the exam. It's about steady progress and taking regular steps.

3. Go with Your Grain, Not Against It

While you're making those marginal improvements in the right direction, make sure that you're doing it in a way that goes with your grain and not against your grain. Going with your grain will make it so much more fun and easy, and more likely for you to achieve your goals.

For example, if you're not a morning person, but your goal is to start an exercise habit in the new year, then don’t make yourself get up at 5:00 AM and do your workout before you commute to work. Choose a different time, one that suits you better like after work or during lunch.

4. Leverage Your Time

Then, the fourth step is to leverage your time. What I mean by this is we all have downtimes. Times that are lost, or what I call “up for grabs” times.

Like when you're standing in line waiting, when you're commuting to work, or those times you're listening to music when you could just as easily be listening to an audio tape or podcast where you learn something or reading a book. You want to use those times wisely.

5. Use the Buddy System

Then, the fifth step is to use the buddy system. That means teaming up with someone who's going to help hold you accountable. It'll also make it more fun.

In my case, when I wanted to swim three nights a week as my exercise, I agreed with my friend, Wendy, that we would meet at the pool at 9:00 PM three nights a week. It was winter. It was cold. It was dark. When you leave the building, your hair is wet going into the parking lot. Not a lot of fun. But because I knew my friend was going to be there, I didn't want to let her down. I showed up because I didn't want her to be doing this all by herself.

On the other hand, if you happen to be somebody who’s very competitive, then go and challenge somebody else. You guys can compete and egg each other on that way.

Whatever you do, get a buddy. That makes it so much more likely that you're going to have fun doing this, and therefore achieve your goals.

So, those are five steps you can take to set and achieve your goals next year.

What are Your Goals for the New Year?

I'm really interested in knowing:

What is your big ambitious goal going to be for the new year and what kind of success path are you going to create for yourself?

Leave a comment and let me know. I would love to hear from you.