It’s New Year’s Day, and what does that mean? Resolutions. What are resolutions if not just goals or objectives by any other name. But actually they’re more than goals.

We can all set goals but having the mindset or the “resolve” to achieve them is a completely different ball game. Take the most common resolutions – lose weight, exercise more, learn a new skill, focus more on work, do more for charity…

We’ve all resolved on 1st January to make improvements in the way we live, but how long do resolutions last?

Imagine you’re a business. You, Inc. And the business hasn’t been performing as well as it could. So what would you do? You’d do an audit, look at all the things in the business that can be improved. Then you’d set some objectives for moving forward, in line with the company’s mission and values, but recognising that some things need to change. And once you’ve written your objectives, would you stop there and hope they work out?

Unlikely. So you’d write a strategy for change. You might want to make cutbacks, improve processes, terminate loss-making activities, change the people around you, or make wide-sweeping changes across the board.

And once the strategy has been agreed, would you stop there? Many people do. As research from Robin Speculand from Bridges International concluded, 9 out of 10 strategies fail. Why? Because they’re not properly implemented.

So you’d write an action plan. And this is where the detail comes in. You’d set a deadline and milestones along the way. You’d test and examine if the new strategy works, you’d measure the results and you’d make any further changes you needed to.

Now apply this to yourself. What aspects of your life would you like to improve? What’s not working the way you want it to? Where would you like to be this time next year, looking back on 2013? What could you be doing differently?

So instead of thinking up a few resolutions, make sure you write them down. Somewhere prominent, somewhere you’d see them on a daily basis.

And beside each one, write down what success will look like. Really think it through to imagine how it will look, taste, feel. And then think about what you need to do to make it happen. Write down 3-4 action points for each objective. Make them realistic, specific, measurable, and achievable.

And now, get started.

Check in at the end of each month to see how they’re doing. Write an update. Check your actions are working and if not change them. But most of all stay focused on the end result, and how you will feel on 31 December 2013 when you’ve met or even exceeded the objectives you set a year ago.

And make sure 2013 is your best year yet!

Happy New Year!