Have you ever tried to reach a goal or make a life change, but can’t seem to make it stick? You know, like those New Year’s resolutions where you swear this year is going to be different, and then it’s not. There’s always some very good, justifiable reason that has trumped your best of intentions.

Why is it that even our most sincere desires to make a change often eludes us?  Of course, we really want to lose that stubborn 20 lbs or get to the gym more. At work, we know that if we would just plan our day and manage our time better our boss would give us that promotion we’ve been hoping for. And, even when the doctor recommends making life changes because our life depends on it, we resist.

As a coach and consultant, I spend a lot of time working with individuals and teams on change management initiatives and goals achievement.  One thing I’ve learned is there are not one-size fits all solutions to this subject. In fact, every change initiative and the issues surrounding the impetus for change are as unique as the individuals.

For some folks making a change is simply a matter of clarifying goals and connecting with how life will be better when you achieve full success.  This will along with some helpful tips and encouragement some are able to “Just Do It!” or “Just Say No.” But, for the vast majority goal achievement and change initiatives is a bit more complicated.

Goal clarity and focused attention on high priority actions are key.  Planning and scheduling daily actions on these high priorities help to keep them in front of you. In addition, being conscious of protecting your time and attention so that other things and people aren’t a distraction.

Once I’ve clarified a major change initiative or goal with my client I have them take three to five daily action steps that move their goal forward.  Between each session, I ask them to commit to three things they will work on in the interim.

Here are five tips to help you get clear on goals and move into action.

1.)  Know Your WHY.  Why is this important to you?  How does this align with your values?  Write this down on paper, it takes it out of your subjective mind and makes it objective.

2.)  Make Your Goals Visual.  What you see you can achieve. The more you engage your five senses in your goal setting process the better.

3.)  Make them SMART.  Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time, Specific.  Have smaller goals that feed into your larger long-range goals.

4.)  Skills and Knowledge.  Whatever you need to know or learn to achieve your goals, make it a priority to learn it.

5.)  Make it Fun.  Get an accountability buddy, incorporate rewards and celebrate milestones.  Keep your language and your mindset positive.

The latest research says that it takes 66 days of consecutive action to form a new habit. Knowing what to do to make your goals happen is one thing, but doing it a whole different ballgame. Making the shift from knowing to doing, to being, requires not just having the right skills and knowledge, or modifying behaviors. In fact, most often requires a transformation of attitudes and beliefs that engage hearts and minds to do something long enough to make it stick.

If you find you’ve tried these things and still aren’t able to achieve success, rest assured there are things you can do to get the results you’re looking for. When this happens, one of the first things I do is have my clients observe their behaviors and their self-talk.  In this way, we begin to understand where they are spending their time, and how they talk to themselves. What we discover is always illuminating and provides insights that show them a way forward.