How to Set Business Goals and Resolutions that Stick

rebecca-headshot-roundThis article is by Rebecca Livermore. Rebecca is the content manager here at and the owner of Professional Content Creation. She invites you to connect with her on LinkedIn.

#1: Consider the Big Picture of Your Life and Business

One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is that they set goals for their business without considering other aspects of their lives. That one reason why I love this article and published right here on, How to Write a One-Page Business Plan. If you haven't already read the article or watched the video, or if you did, but haven't yet sat down and filled out your business plan, be sure to do that as part of your goals for the year. If you do, you'll be in a much better place this time next year, not just in your business, but in all aspects of your life.

Here's a link to both the article and video, as well as the free template for creating your own one-page business plan:

How to Write a One-Page Business Plan



#2: Choose the Right Why

The article 8 Ways You Can Use Science to Make Your New Year's Resolutions Stick, published on gives the following eight scientifically proven principles for making your resolutions stick:

1. Choose the right "whys."
2. Start small.
3. Make one change at a time.
4. Share your experience with others.
5. Increase your feelings of control and use your frustration.
6. Make a monetary commitment.
7. Keep a log.
8. Set prevention goals.

As you can see, the first one is to have the right reason, or "why" for your goals. This quote from the article sums it up nicely:

Motivation is our fuel for doing anything, and the quality of our motivation affects whether our resolutions stick or fade away.

It goes on to say not to base your resolutions on what you feel you should do, but on what you truly want to do. For example, if you set a resolution because you feel pressured by society or family member to do something, it will be hard to stick with it.

Make a Monetary Commitment

Another interesting tip in this article is to make a monetary commitment related to the goal or resolution. I haven't personally tried this, but it makes a lot of sense. If you set a monetary commitment related to your goal, be sure to address two sides. First, if you accomplish the goal, you reward yourself monetarily.

If you don't reach your goal, you have to pay for it. This article mentioned paying a charity. I've heard some select what they term an "anti-charity." In other words, choose a charity that has a cause you do NOT believe in. In this case, you would be motivated to accomplish your goal to avoid giving money that supports a cause you strongly disagree with. For example, if you're a staunch Republican, you may penalize yourself for not reaching your goal by having to give money to the Democratic party. Or if you're an Atheist and you don't reach your goal, you have to donate to the American Bible Society.

3: Keep Your Goals to a Minimum

We've all done it - set unrealistic goals and resolutions. You know, things like go from couch potato to running a marathon in 30 days. Or lose 25 pounds before your high school reunion - next month.

Or maybe you know better than to set such outlandish goals, but set too many of them. Even if you have tiny goals, such as running a half a mile a day, if you have twenty tiny goals that you're trying to focus on every day, your destined to fail.

If you have this tendency, start off by choosing ONE goal in three different areas of your life, such as business, health, and spiritual. Think of the one thing that will make the biggest difference in each of those areas, and set your goals around that one thing. Then stick to your daily disciplines religiously.

Create Mini Habits

Since unexpected things happen to each of us, one thing I've learned to do is create mini-habits. For example, as a writer, I created a mini-habit of writing at least 200 words a day. Don't fail to miss the words, "at least." My mini-habit goal is set in such a way that even on my worst, craziest day, I can accomplish the goal. In most cases, I do much more.

The reason this works is because habits are an essential part of accomplishing goals. And the only way to establish good habits is to do whatever it is day after day, without fail.

In addition to your daily habits, you may also want to start some weekly or monthly habits. For instance, my husband and I have a monthly financial meeting, where we review all of our finances, including what we have in all accounts, such as savings, checking, 401K, etc. It would be way too much to look at that information every day, but doing it once a month impacts our daily financial habits.

As recommended in this article published on, another tactic you can try is to focus on just one habit at a time. The thinking is that it takes a lot of willpower to form a new habit. Now if you're concerned that you'll never accomplish what you want if you focus on one new habit at a time, don't worry. Once a habit becomes more automatic, you can add on an additional new habit, and keep going with that approach to add more over time.

#4: Be Specific

I debated about whether or not to address the topic of SMART goals in this article. It's a great system, but almost every goal setting article focuses on it. Having said that, there's a reason it's so popular, so I want to briefly touch on it here.

Since the SMART goals acronym has been written about so much, there is a bit of variety in what people attribute to each letter in the acronym. Here's what makes the most sense to me:

S - Specific

M - Measurable

A - Achievable (or attainable)

R - Realistic

T- Time-bound

With this system, you move away from vague goals such as "getting healthy" and instead get into very specific, measurable goals that have a date attached to them. For instance, you want to lose 15 pounds by March 31st. Notice that that if you set this goal on January 1, it would also be achievable and realistic, since that would be an average weight loss of five pounds a month.

#5: Write them Down

It's not enough to just think about or even talk about your goals. You need to write them down. One of the best things about writing down your goals is that the process of writing things down brings clarity. This is especially true if you take some time to write down the why behind the goal. If you spend a little time journaling about it, you may discover some of the deeper reasons why that specific goal matters to you. Or, you may discover that it doesn't matter to you as much as you thought, and that the only reason you made the goal was because you were trying to please others. In that case, ditch that goal!

In addition to that when you write down your goals, you have something to review each day, week, or month.

#6: Use Technology

Technology can be horribly distracting and a big time waster. However, it can also assist you in accomplishing your goals if used wisely. For example, I set alarms on my phone to remind me to do things at a specific time. I also use an app to track habits I'm working on developing.

I use The HabitHub which is currently only available for Android, but says is "coming soon" for iOs. Regardless of the type of device(s) you own, you'll be able to find a great habit app. Just do a search in your app store for "habit app" or "habit tracker." There are a lot of them out there, and you may have to try a few before finding one that works for you. Some apps include a strong gamification aspect, which I don't have the patience for, but some people love.

Here are the two primary things I look for in a habit app:

  • The ability to give myself set days off, without penalty. For example, there are certain habits I do Monday - Friday, and take the weekends off. Some apps would deem those two days off as a failure, even though taking them off was my intention.
  • The ability to set different goal lengths. For example, I may want to focus on one goal for only 30 days, but may want to focus on a more important goal for 365 days.

What matters to you may be different. For example, you may want to make level up, like you would when playing a video game. If so, an app that includes a gamification component is a good choice. Or you may want to share your habit goals with others and have them cheer you on. In that case, look for an app that has a strong social component.

Your Turn

Share your best tips for goal setting in the comments below.





Patrick Bet-David
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