The first rule in setting a goal is to know what you want to achieve. I know it sounds simple, and, really, it is. Half the battle for most people is that they don’t know what they want, specifically. It is important to make goals that can be measured, that are specific, that have a time frame, are relevant and attainable. Don’t just say you want to earn a lot of money within 12 months. Say, “I want to earn $150,000 by the end of this December.

Writing down your goals is also really important. This gives you a measure to check them off as they are realized. Making specific, measurable goals provides motivation to do more and attain more. It is also important to review your goals over time to see what you’ve achieved, and how much further you have to go.

If you want to be really productive in marking off your goals, first start out by making an inventory of the long term things you want to achieve. Do you want to change careers, do you want to learn a new language, do you want to have a child? There is no limit to where you end up, but you have to know where you want to go. Only then can you decide which road to take to get there. Once you know what you want to do over the next 5-10 years, break down your big items into smaller, achievable targets that will successively help you achieve the long term goals. Next, make a list of action steps for each of these targets. Ideally, you give yourself a very specific time frame to achieve each item.

It is really important to take stock at least once a month on your goals. Have you set your expectations too high? Too low? Gain some perspective as you look back at what you wanted last month, see if your long term goals have changed at all, and go ahead and update your blueprint. The more explicit you can be in what you want, the sooner you will achieve it.

When you make your goals, make them performance goals, not outcome goals. You are the one that controls your destiny. Not a team, or your boss. You should set goals for YOU; don’t let those around you dictate the outcome of your goals. Focus on smaller goals. Having attainable goals that you can track will give you the confidence to do more and gain more in your life.

Take time to really appreciate your achievement of each goal. Consider how long each goal took you to achieve, and determine if you want to step up your game or give yourself a little more leniency. If after a month you see you aren’t checking items off a list, then you may want to ease up on your expectations. Making short term goal lists and checking them off as you achieve them will give you a great sense of accomplishment.

Again, be specific in what you yourself can do and achieve with a reasonable timeframe. Your goals should be your own, not drawn from a list someone else created. Rather than make a longer list of all things you want to achieve in 10 years, you can make a 10-year goal, a five-year goal, a six-month goal, and a one-month goal. Decide what are the most important things you want to achieve, then break down the action steps to make these dreams a reality.

Your big goals should be used as inspiration to keep you moving, and will always be a representation of your passion. Making action steps for your targets to achieve each goal makes it realistic to achieve each big goal. Baby steps take you a long way!

A trick that many others won’t share with you regarding goal setting is the importance of visualization. Once you have your list of goals, you can undoubtedly achieve them faster if you spend a few minutes, really even just a few seconds, each day closing your eyes and seeing yourself achieve the goal. If you want to sign on 5 new clients each week for the next month, spend some moments each day visualizing being on the phone with those clients, or visualize your bank statement number getting exponentially larger. You have to have serious intention to get what you want. You have to want it, but you also have to know specifically what you want. Be sure to review, or talk about, your goals on a daily basis. Only if you continue to think about them, and share with others (this helps with accountability), will you be truly successful.

Take time to make your goals; be specific and dream big. Break down each big idea into actionable steps and before you know it, you’ll achieve big success in your amazing goals!