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“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

We all set New Year’s Resolutions. Set goals, then stop trying around Easter; revolving around and around in an endless cycle of lying to ourselves. That’s the New Year’s “Revolution”. We always end up in the same place, just making the same resolutions every year. To truly achieve a long term goal you need to build a habit. It’s been said that a habit takes about 21 – 254 days to form. It all depend on you and the goals you set. Fret not! Below is the prime and comprehensive list of things to do to form your habit and achieve your goal this year.

1. Identify the change: You must first know exactly what you want to change. Focus on cause, not outcome. By that I mean if you want to stop going negative in your business account, then focus on building more income or less spending (two different goals) – PS: “Saving Money” is not properly identifying your change.

2. Do just one change at a time: Change is difficult, even with just one. If you do more than one at a time, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Stay focused.

3. Clearly define your goal: You know what you want to change, now you must know exactly by how much. Define your end goal by a measurable metric: Time, Dollars, Exact Quantity (and specify of what), etc.

4. Start Small: Change doesn’t happen over night – unless you’re dying your hair. To really fulfill your goal begin with manageable increments of time that work up to your full goal.

5. Identify obstacles: These are inevitable events, people or situations that you know will try to stop you from achieving your goal. Since there is no avoiding them, write down ways to overcome them.

6. Identify triggers: Triggers are situations, people, etc that trigger the opposite behavior for your goal. For instance, if you goal is less spending, a trigger may be browsing online stores. STOP IT!

7. Identify motivations: Motivations are higher powers, objects, stories that will keep you focused and naturally give you intrinsic encouragement to continue on with your goal. Keep them close.

8. Be prepared: You will have a downfall, prepare for it. It’s easy to relapse, but one day of relapse won’t hurt you. Just make sure you have are prepared with redirection tactics and motivations to get you back on track!

9. Make worksheets: This is part of having good metrics. Make sure you’re writing down monthly, weekly, and daily (maybe even hourly) metrics on your goal.

10. Get support: Extrinsic motivators! These are people that will support you; friends, family, business partners, pets.

11. Stay positive: Mind over everything. The way you think about you goal is the way you’ll act. Call it “Law of Attraction” or whatever you want. Point is, if you think you can achieve you, you are naturally more likely to do so.

12. Get Sticky: Leave sticky notes for yourself in the most common places you work, play, eat and sleep. Leave motivations on them or reminders to keep up your goal.

13. Use Visualization: Build a vision board around your goal. You’re already writing it down, now put up pictures.

14. Talk about it: Share you goal. This goes beyond your support system. If there is something you want to change you need to be comfortable with make that change, and that means telling people about what you’re doing. Tell people you meet, blog, vlog, tweet, it doesn’t matter, just start a dialog outside of your circle of support.

15. Avoidance: Avoid any situations you know will impede progress. This is different that obstacles. These are places, people and things you know will distract you from your goal.

16. Pick a start date: This is near the bottom because it’s one of the last things you need to think about, but still very important! Set it at a reasonable time.

17. Pick an end date: You goal must end. That doesn’t mean you can’t begin again, but you must have a stopping point so you know whether you’ve achieve it. Then you can start setting higher goals for change.

Whether you goals is for business or personal the list work all the same. For the office you can get your team and employees on board; You’ll already have your Extrinsic Support! Leave you goal in the comments to get started on #14. Happy 2011!