01/09/2014 03:04 pm ET Updated Mar 11, 2014

Goals and the New Year; Simple Ways to Stay in the Game

The new year brings with it new possibilities and the opportunity for us to press the reset button, clear the slate and work towards living our best life. We are almost two weeks into the new year and everyone is concentrating on making their new year's resolutions work. As per research by the University of Scranton, however, 40% of Americans make New Year's resolutions but a mere 8% achieve them. Yes, achieving one's goals requires planning, commitment sheer hard work. But why do some succeed, others fail and many simply just don't even try anymore? The answers vary greatly. Here are a few suggestions to help you on your journey.

Focus More on the Why than the What

If you focus your mental on why you have set a new goal and not on what goal you set, the chances of faltering are diminished. Ask yourself, why did I set a particular goal in the first place? For example, if the what is to lose weight then the why can be to be healthier and be around longer to see your children grow up, or simply because you want to feel sexy in a two piece during your vacation. Framing your reason for you engaging in your goal as something that excites you as opposed to something that feels like it's burdensome will keep you motivated and in turn increases the chances of you staying on track. Remaining conscious of why you are doing something will push you towards your goal, but leaning on the inconvenience of what you are doing will pull you from it.

Have a Strategy

While a wish is devoid of tactics and swollen with desires, a goal on the other hand must be pregnant with strategies in order for it to bear its fruits. Simply having the intention of achieving a goal is not enough. If you keep carrying the same bricks you will keep building the same house. Because of this you must have a strategy, the how, in order to increase your chances of success. For example, if your goal is to stop gossiping, how will you make it happen? A strategy can look like this - a) you will inform your inner circle of your goal and boundaries around gossip b) when you are physically around gossip you will remove yourself from that environment c) when gossip is presented to you immediately state your desire not to engage and change the topic and d) if you can't achieve a,b, c the strategy can be that you will listen, not comment or entertain the gossip at hand.

Create Benchmarks

So you want to stop smoking because you want to begin training for a marathon? Exactly how will you achieve this? The difference between a dream and a goal is a time line because someday is not a day of the week. Success' muse is reality and as such any goal you set must be realistic as to when you will achieve it by. Creating benchmarks that work for you and your lifestyle serve as the bones of an achievable goal. For example, if quitting smoking is your goal, then bench marks can look like this; I will only smoke 12 cigarettes per week. After the first month, I will reduce it to 8, after the third month it will be 6 and at my fourth month I will stop purchasing cigarettes altogether.

Start with the End In Mind

Those that got to where they are at began where they were. A powerful way to help you get you to where you want to be is by approaching your goal as if you are already there. Envisioning and feeling yourself accomplishing the goal you set out to achieve is a practical and applicable construct. You can't control much in life, but you can control your thoughts, emotions and visualizations if you choose to. Visualize yourself running that marathon, sun bathing in your two piece, or driving that new SUV. Consider creating a vision board around your goal, or carry a picture of yourself when you were at you physical peak or a person you admire in order to psychologically keep bringing you back to the space where you will soon be.

Pick your Team

You don't want anchors in your life because they weigh you down. You need motors as they are positioned to move you forward. A great way to increase your chances of goal success is by surrounding yourself with people that are goal driven, or have the same goals as you. The greatest advantage of this approach is that it creates a community of accountability where your success is genuinely supported. You are, after all, the average of the people you surround yourself with. This honors the old adage of tell me who you hang with and I will tell you who you are. A suggested simple strategy to begin creating Team insert your name is by walking, no, sprinting away from chronic complainers. Complaining is essentially admitting that something better exists from that which you complain about. A solutions oriented community is what you want, not a victim infested one.

Reward Yourself

The fact of the matter is that we live in a culture that possesses blurred lined between work/life balance. We often are paralyzed by the competing demands of work and our personal lives and in turn our self-care needs fall to the way side. Setting and achieving goals is a difficult thing to do and because of this it is important to reward yourself for reaching your benchmarks and achieving your goals. Companies give us reward points for our loyalty to them, we, too, should reward ourselves for our commitment to ourselves and improving our quality of life. In short, rewards keep us motivated and engaged. Buy yourself that vintage Chianti, call in sick and lay in bed all day, or splurge on that trip to Yosemite. You are deserving and worthy.

Identifying the what, where, how and the why is paramount to achieving your goal. Having S.M.A.RT (specific, measurable, achievable, reasonable and time-focused) goals increase achievability as well. But being flexible with what you set yourself out to achieve is perhaps the most important component. Life happens. As such, remain open and committed to reassessing your goals, benchmarks and timelines and adjust and reengage as you see fit. The beauty of being human is that we are afforded another chance to get it right.