Every January, I set new goals. It’s not that I don’t set goals throughout the rest of the year as well; it’s just that January represents a time when goal-setting is in the air. I like to take advantage of the opportunity to “reset” my energy, and I do it with a great deal of intention each year.

I rarely make New Year’s resolutions, per se, because I see a difference between a resolution and a goal. A resolution is a new resolve–a determination to BE something different in the new year. I find resolutions daunting. “To be more organized,” for example, is a resolution (which I’ve set for myself many times, to tell you the truth). “To lose weight” or “to start exercising” are also resolutions. A bit vague, even though they are action oriented.

I don’t have anything against resolves (in fact, I like them and think they are important), but I do think they’re tough to complete because they aren’t measurable. To get something done, one needs to know what success looks like and have a deadline.

A goal is a specific determination to DO or to FINISH something. The completion of a goal is easy to assess if you make your benchmarks specific and obtainable. I’ll say more about this in a moment.

At the beginning of 2012, I set a few goals for myself: I wanted to find someone to help me market my business by the end of September; I wanted to run marathons in at least two States by the end of the year; and I wanted to issue a challenge to friends to run their first full or half marathon and to follow along with their progress. I also wanted to complete my new book, Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religions. All of these got done. (What didn’t get done? Well, I don’t know if I’m any more organized than I was the year before!)

In 2013, I have a handful of goals I’m excited about, too: I’m planning to train to shave off at least a half hour from my best marathon time (4:53); I’m going to double my twitter followers in service to my business (follow me at https://twitter.com/camiostman); and I’m going to publish an anthology of women writers writing about writing! I also plan to start two group coaching courses and run them repeatedly throughout the year and to complete (by September)the writing of a novel that I’ve been working on for more than a decade. It’s a big list, but I promise you I’ll get through it!

How, you ask? Keep reading.

Let’s talk about your goals, now. I’d love to support you in reaching your goals, catching your second wind, and living an abundant, happy life this year, so let me share with you the end-of-the-year process that gets me to my goal setting and, more importantly, my goal achieving. You can do it with me this year.

The first week of every January, I spend some time writing about the previous year and crafting my goals for the next. Below are the questions I use for journaling this process. Why not give them a try now?

1. What are all the things from 2012 I’m proud of? What did I get done? (Write down everything that comes to mind, big and small!)

2. What did I learn in 2012 that I’d like to remember for 2013?

3. What do I want to accomplish in 2013? (Write down everything that comes to mind, big and small!)

4. Which of the above items are most important to me? (Circle up to five, but no more.)

5. What steps do I need to take in order to complete each of these? What are my deadlines for each of these steps? (I make a spreadsheet with the months of the year across the top and the goal along the left-hand side. Then I fill it in with benchmark objectives I plan to reach. Check out a printable version of the table here: 2013 Goal Planner.)

6. How will I celebrate or mark the completion of each step toward progress?

7. Who/what do I need to support me in this goal?

As you can see, this is a simple process. But it works! It works because the focus is not on changing anything essential about yourself. There is nothing shaming or condemning about these questions. There is no need to go back and look at your failures or to decide there is anything problematic or pathological about you. The key is breaking down the goal into bite-sized, achievable steps.

If you have a specific goal you’d like to work toward but feel stuck as you go through this process, why not give me a call and let me walk through it with you. I’m offering free half-hour consultations through January and February to help people identify their goals and objectives for 2013.

Happy New Year, Second Wind-ers! I look forward to hearing from you on facebook, twitter, or email throughout the year as you report on your successes and wins!