With the new year in full swing, there's a good chance your resolutions are holding on by a thread. Most people start the year with ambitions for better health, fitness and career milestones. Yet, According to a University of Scranton study, why do 54 percent of people give up on their goals in under 180 days?

The answer: bad planning, systems, and mindset.

Whether or not you want to develop better habits, become a better leader, get a higher paying job or learn a new skill, you cannot just wish these into existence. You need a plan and milestones that will get you on the right track.

Let's assume you want to get to a certain level of fitness this year. You don't become a fit person after one pushup, but becoming a fit person can start with one pushup.

Here are three powerful strategies you can use to actually meet your goals:

1. Focus on what's in front of you.

You have to shift your focus towards incremental improvement and small milestones, all with the intent of helping you reach your bigger goal.

If you want to grow your business revenue, it won't happen magically. However, if you focus on what's in front of you, by giving it attention you will be stepping toward whatever target you set.

I want to grow my content marketing agency's revenue by 30 percent this year. I know in my industry (like most), relationships are the key to growth. So, I need to meet and build rapport with as many people in marketing as I can.

I'm not focusing on 30 percent--that's the mountaintop. Instead, I'm focusing on putting one foot in front of the other one. More specifically, I'm attending one networking event a week. Even if I feel exhausted or can't see the immediate payoff, I know this is a step in the right direction.

If you take enough steps in the right direction you'll get to where you want to be.

2. Put in a little more effort than needed.

This year, one of my fitness goals is to run 300 miles. That's 25 miles a month. However, I'm aiming for 30 miles a month. I'm doing this because I expect something unexpected to come up this year, whether it's travel, sickness, vacation, etc., and this gives me some cushion when something comes up. If nothing comes up, I'll hit my mark two months early.

To get from 25 to 30 takes minimal effort, but when I look back on the year it will make a big difference.

The same goes for business. If I have it in my plans to make two solid new contacts every month, I try and get three of them. Putting in effort into creating three new business relationships each month covers me against my goal if I don't hit this. If I take two weeks off in the summer my overall goal of valuable 24 contacts on the year won't take a hit. 

Take your current goal today and see if you can put in a little more effort to help you achieve it sooner or buy yourself cushion against an unexpected bump in the road.

3. Use SMART goals.

The SMART system has been the most useful goal setting method I've come across. It means your goals should be specific, measurable, assignable, realistic and time-based. This cuts through sweeping statements like, "I want to grow the company," getting to a more precise look at what an effective goal looks like.

Here's what the difference looks like:

Basic goal: I want to grow my company.

SMART goal: I will grow my company to X amount of revenue by December 31st, 2018. I will do this by generating X amount of revenue from new sales activity and X amount from upselling to current customers. I will generate new sales opportunities by attending one networking event per week, and create two valuable contacts per month.

The more specific you can be the better chance you will have of achieving your goal. Think about it like a map, the better the map the more likely you'll be able to find your way to your destination.

Published on: Jan 30, 2018