The Secret to Achieving Resolutions: Setting Small Goals

Set achievable goals

The New Year provides an opportunity to start with a fresh, clean slate. However, more than nine out of 10 Americans (92%) will not to keep their resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, or find romance. It can be the same with the goals small business owners set for themselves to grow revenues or become more profitable.

The number one reason why New Year’s resolutions fail isn’t feasibility or a lack of motivation.

The number one reason resolutions fail is all about time.

It is easy to become overwhelmed by the goals you set for yourself in the course of the next year.

Procrastination is a significant part of the problem. At the beginning of the year, people rationalize “I have over half a year left to do what I said I’d do.” And when the summer months roll around, there is still enough time left in the year that you might not feel a real sense of urgency.

Before you know it, the holidays roll around again, and yet the resolution has not been accomplished.

Set Achievable Goals

“For many people, this depressing chain of events recycles on a yearly basis because far-away deadlines allow us to be slack on execution. Give yourself too much time and you will procrastinate. It’s human nature,” write Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington, co-authors of The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do in 12 Months,

Instead, Moran and Lennington advocate setting realistic deadlines that will be better motivators to take action. “Success is all of the little things you do throughout the year to make your goals happen,” they explain.

I always advise taking a look at smaller chunks of time when setting goals for a small business. One can compare January to the previous month of December or to January a year ago to gauge what direction the company is heading.

Setting a goal of 50 percent growth in a year is noble, but it can be daunting. A smarter way is to plan smaller, more manageable and less overwhelming growth rates for each month of the year. By the time next December rolls around, the overall increase for the year may indeed be closer to the target.

Every day should be filled with important, attainable goals. For example, one goal could be as simple as committing to reaching out to one new prospect each work day. Over the course of the year, this could add up to over 200 contacts. Even with a modest success rate of 2%, you could find yourself with four new accounts over the course of the year. If one or two of them are substantial new clients, you may indeed hit projected growth targets.

Achieve Little Victories For Big Results

By setting  attainable goals and achieving little victories on a weekly basis, the outlook will seem brighter. And, as a result, your commitment to growth will grow throughout the year.

In business, as in life, unexpected occurrences can put things out of whack. Natural disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy, set back thousands of small businesses. In 2013, the government shutdown had an unanticipated devastating effect on companies that directly and indirectly rely on federal spending. Machines break down. Key employees leave. New competition arrives in the marketplace. The key is to establish good habits and to have systems in place to spur business growth despite outside influences.

Little things that mean a lot over the course of the year include:

  • Committing to contacting a set number of potential clients each week, setting appointments when possible, and keeping them on a regular basis.
  • Improving your record keeping so that you can monitor what’s happening in your business and subsequently implement changes where needed.
  • Paying bills in full and on time in order to increase credit scores in case you need an infusion of working capital or seek to expand.
  • Keeping abreast of changes in technology and making upgrades in order to stay ahead of the competition.

Smaller, monthly improvements will add up during the year. Committing to certain tasks and maintaining that commitment will manifest in greater overall performance.

Do not set yourself up for failure like the people who aspire to drop 20 pounds or drop two dress sizes and then become depressed and discouraged when it doesn’t happen within two months. The successful individuals will make it a point to drop one or two pounds a week over the course of 10-12 weeks.

Set achievable goals, over small periods of time.  They will be easier to reach, and as you reach each goal you will feel motivated because of your small successes.

Continually reaching small achievable goals is the key to long-term success — this year and every year.

Achievable photo via Shutterstock


Rohit Arora Rohit Arora, CEO and Co-founder of Biz2Credit, is one of the country's leading experts in small business finance. Since its founding in 2007, Biz2Credit has arranged $800M in small business loans and has helped thousands of entrepreneurs. Rohit was named Crain's NY Business "Entrepreneur of the Year 2011."

18 Reactions
  1. Rohit,

    I have to check out the 12 week year book. Have you studied the works by the pioneer of goal setting, Dr. Edwin A. Locke?

  2. Very good article. Small goals have worked well for me. Whenever I have big, bold goals, it almost never works.

  3. Accountability is another thing I often see missing. You need to record the goal and have somewhere or someone to report to.

    • The problem is that unless you have a life coach, it is hard to find someone who will really care about you and your goals. Sometimes, it is better going at it alone.

  4. Well deserving article showing the ways in achieving the new year resolution with ease. It is true that short terms goals are easy to achieve with time & also set the mode to reach the target within stipulated time. I feel that resolution should start with small goals & not with the bigger ones, so that it becomes a habit to achieve resolution & then with time one can aspire to reach the bigger targets or goal.

  5. I have personally had it with goals. I have been setting them since I am little and I always get close but not really reach my goals. So now that I know my limits and I know myself well enough, I can set achievable goals. They are smaller than what I used to set but I can achieve them faster and I can become more proud of myself.

  6. I think for some people, it takes patience to break things down into smaller chunks, and do them, when you’re really keen to reach your ultimate goal. The last time I checked, the tortoise won the race though.

  7. an article worth reading. The points are so precisely explained which helped me to catch up to all the points. The tips to achieve success are amazingly written and explained in this article by the author.