As the year begins, businesses all over the world have renewed (or established) the goals that they are aiming to achieve. Whether you want to increase yearly profits by 20%, open a new location, hire an additional person, or even find a way to take more time off, you’ll have to chart out a road map that will ultimately get you to your desired destination. That’s the part of achievement that trips a lot of people up; the more ambitious your goal is, the more work (and creativity) you’re going to have to put in order to achieve it. If you want to exceed even your wildest goals, you’re going to have to break out of the mud of convention.

Being successful doesn’t necessarily require you to do something completely radical and untested. In many cases, applying existing models in a way that you haven’t yet tried is enough to make your dream a reality.

The business community offers tons of resources that will help you get started. You’re never alone, no matter what industry you work in – and this article will help you take the first meaningful step in the new year.

1. Set Goals that motivate you

When you set goals for yourself, it is important that they motivate you: this means making sure that they are important to you, and that there is value in achieving them. Think about what achieving the goal would allow you do or have in your personal life. If you have little emotional attachment to the outcome, or they are irrelevant given the larger picture, then the chances of you putting in the work to make them happen are slim. Motivation is key to achieving goals.

2. Focus on the activity

This step is often missed in the process of goal setting. You get so focused on the outcome that you forget to plan all of the steps that are needed along the way. By writing out the activity required or individual steps, and then crossing each one off as you complete it, you’ll realise that you are making progress towards your ultimate goal.

3. Break it up

Many people abandon goals because they’re just too big. If you’ve done this to yourself, stop now. Change your game plan. Select milestones to get there and make each of those a tiny goal. Perhaps a percentage of traffic increase on your website, or reaching a certain number of clients or bringing in a certain amount of revenue. Breaking your big goal into small ones will make jumping off the cliff of self-employment a much more feasible option for you.

4. Write them down and Create lists

Words are fleeting; they are easy to say, but they fade away and leave no trace of their existence. If you merely state your goals verbally, it’s easy to blow them off and forget what it was that you hoped to achieve. Put your words to paper, and they will now exist in a much more real, tangible format. Each week, create and/or update lists of everything that you need or want to have accomplished. Mark off the things that you have accomplished, and make a physical note of what you haven’t. By creating lists, you’ll not only be reminded of what it is that you set out to accomplish, but you’ll be able to SEE your progress throughout days, weeks, months, and even years. That is an incredibly motivating feeling, one that many entrepreneurs swear by!

5. Look at it regularly

A goal that you can actually see is massively more powerful than a goal you write down on a checklist. This is a favourite technique of mine and it works very well if you’re a visual learner. Every year, we spread magazines all over her living room and invites the family for a “vision board” session. Vision boards are comprised of pictures (from the magazines) that motivate the creator of that board. Want to get a new car? Cut out a picture of the car you want, in the colour you want. Want to make more money? Cut out a pic that speaks to you on that level. You get the idea.

6. Minimise other types of distractions and Stop procrastinating

If you fail to eliminate other distractions, all the other things will do you little good. Find ways to shut out distractions like social media notifications, personal phone calls and email pop-ups. Set a schedule for yourself and stick to it, even if no one is there to supervise you. If you’re doing professional work, look the part. While procrastination may seem inevitable, try the 15-minute rule: Set a timer for 15 minutes, and commit to working on something you’ve been putting off for ages. Who knows? You might gain some momentum and not feel like stopping once the time is up.

7. Find people to help you.

No matter how driven you are, you’d be foolish to think you can achieve success single handed. Even if someone else isn’t aiding you directly, it’s helpful to establish a few individuals whom you can emulate, who will inspire you to persevere or hold you accountable. For example, a mentor or a coach can dispense valuable advice so that you won’t have to learn basic lessons the hard way. Find specific people who can help you bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

8. Tell people and share your goals

Share your goals with other people who care about you or matter to you. Sharing a goal about going on vacation with your spouse or kids will keep you committed. It’s easy to fail ourselves but not so easy to fail some you care about.  Making yourself accountable to your friends and family is one of the best ways to reach your goals. When you tell people your goals, they will jump in the boat with you and help you get there. And if you’re the masochistic, egotistical type, this tactic works wonders. Just think…you’ve told everyone you know that you’re heading out to accomplish this goal. If you don’t do it, there will be some embarrassment in it for you. Hey, whatever works!

9. Ask for feedback.

Soliciting advice and criticism from others creates accountability. For this to work, you will need to convince the mentor, friend, colleague or significant other whom you’re appealing to that you want to know what he really thinks. The elevator needs to know that he won’t suffer any blow back if he is totally honest. Feedback is key to overcoming blind spots and achieving better results

10. Conduct periodic progress check-ins.

It’s not enough to incorporate new habits and ditch old ones. You have to make time to consistently evaluate yourself to make sure that you’re on track. You might do this once you’ve achieved smaller goals that will build toward a larger one, or if you’ve given yourself a deadline (say a year), schedule quarterly review sessions. During these check-ins with yourself, reflect on what you’ve been doing and determine whether it’s working or how you might revise your plan. Let what you’ve accomplished inspire you to keep going.

11. Motivate yourself with rewards.

If you plan to reward yourself once you’ve achieved mini milestones, you’ll have an additional incentive to persevere aside from the big goal in and of itself. A milestone might take the form of reaching a certain number of followers on a social media account, getting up early in the morning for the first consecutive week or saving an additional £1,000. You might treat yourself to your favourite dessert, a spa treatment, new recreational gear or just a lazy day off. Whatever the case, make sure your reward system is enticing enough to motivate you to work hard, but modest enough to be sustainable in the long run.

12.  Prepare to move a lot of dirt and Make it Happen

Finding solutions is just like digging for gold. The more dirt the miners process, the more gold they potentially find. Their bottom-line secret to success: Keep digging. You can never replace hard work. You have the choice to fulfil your aspirations or wallow in the blame game and victim cycle.

Make a choice and act on it.