It’s the time of year that you hear a lot about goal setting. There is something about turning over a page on the calendar that makes people step back and take stock of where they are and where they want to be.

But setting goals isn’t the difficult part. What’s much more difficult is taking the action steps to ensure that you accomplish what you have set out to do!

As a business owner I have had my own experiences with goal setting and learned some lessons too. Here are three suggestions that I think can help you with your own goal setting efforts:

Make sure the goals are attainable. It’s one thing to know that you have to work hard to accomplish your goals but it’s another thing entirely to realize that the goals that you set for yourself are completely out of reach. It’s at this point that many people lose all of their momentum and completely give up. Goals are supposed to provide focus and serve to motivate, and the sensible person or company pegs the new goals against previous accomplishments.

Have an action plan. Having attainable goals is important but it is only one piece of the equation. It’s equally as important to have an action plan detailing how you plan to accomplish your goals. It’s important for the action steps to be as specific as possible. For instance, getting three new clients every quarter is a good goal but how do you plan to achieve this goal? Will you do more networking (when, how, where), do cold calling (how many hours per week)…you get the idea! You must have a “plan of attack” or your goal will remain out of reach.

Be flexible. Even when you set realistic goals circumstances might necessitate that you make some revisions. Circumstances can change and present obstacles that are completely out of your control. Health concerns, the state of the economy, family issues and more may impact your ability to accomplish what you set out to do. Don’t beat yourself up. Revise your goals accordingly and move on to Plan B.

In the best of all worlds you will review your goals on a monthly basis to ensure that you are on track and determine whether any revisions must be made.

Goal setting helps you to think about your future and should motivate you to turn your plans into a reality. If you haven’t done your goals for the upcoming year the time has come. Start now!