Resolutions are synonymous with the New Year. We strive to be better versions of ourselves. We want to healthier, slimmer, richer or better partners and friends. Last year, I wrote about realistic resolutions – which I still completely support, but sometimes we need to set hard goals for ourselves. I know I need to this year.

While I was thinking about my goals, I started to think about how incredibly broad they were. I have a background in marketing and I teach students about settings goals, objectives and tactics every semester. Considering these are finite, actionable steps to accomplish a goal that normally works, I wanted to apply them to the goals in my life.

I realized that I needed to make my goals actionable. For example, “To make more money” and “To lose 20 lbs” are not actionable. They’re nice thoughts, and would be considered broad goals. However, they won’t get you far. Below, I’ve outlined five steps to create actionable goals – and remember, it’s not too late to start.

Define Your Broad Goal

This is the big idea. What do you want to do? You may consider losing weight, finishing a project, being a better person, etc. For this example, we’ll use the New Year’s favorite:

My goal is to be healthier.

Tighten It

Now, consider what it is you want to do exactly. Be honest with yourself, but also be realistic. While you may want to lose 100 lbs, losing 30 lbs might be a more realistic goal. Or, maybe you want to be more active. You should treat these as separate goals. This differs person to person, and only you can determine your comfort level with your goal.

My goal is to lose 30 lbs.

My goal is to be able to run more.

Make it SMART

SMART is a great acronym used in marketing to create tight and succinct objectives.

S – Specific – Know exactly what you want
M – Measurable – Be able to show a trackable change by the end of the time span
A – Attainable – Make sure your goal is possible
R – Realistic – Make sure your goal is possible for you
T – Time Sensitive – Create a time limit

My goal is to lose 30 lbs by Dec. 15, 2018.

My goal is to run a 5K in September, 2018.

Give Yourself Steps

In marketing, these would be called tactics. What specific steps will you take to make sure you are meeting all of the parts of your goal? They may change as you progress and they may overlap, but set new tactics as needed. These will help you along the way and keep you from feeling lost in the beginning. Think of it as a road map.

  • Attend two yoga classes per week
  • Eat three vegetarian meals per week
  • Maintain X amount of calories per day
  • Walk three miles per day
  • Meal prep on Sunday nights
  • Weigh in every two weeks
  • Visit a trainer once per week
  • Join the local running club
  • Create a step-up plan from walking
  • Find a running buddy
Write it Down

Finally, and most simply, write all of this down. Then, hang it somewhere you can see it everyday. It’s easy to let goals slip by when we’re not confronted by them to hold ourselves accountable. You can make a vision board, frame them or simply write them down to hang on your fridge.