For many people, it is customary to set goals (or new year resolutions) at the beginning of every year. However only a few really pay attention to how their goals are set. It is true that setting goals doesn’t guarantee success but not setting any makes failure almost certain.

Common goals include financial security or freedom, career growth, health & fitness, spiritual, education, family, vacation, self-development and so on. Here are my top 10 tips to help you achieve desired outcome.

  1. Determine what really matter to you (not to society, friends or anyone else) and focus on them. As a guide, ask yourself if it will matter in 5 years' time. If it won't then it's probably not worth it.
  2. Set life goals (not just annual goals), review and monitor regularly not just at the start of a new year. Your life may be measured in years but your achievements are measured over your lifetime.
  3. Be in control - Take full responsibility for your destiny, don't anchor your goals on other people or events that are totally outside your control.
  4. Be realistically optimistic – Okay to be ambitious but be reasonable. Don't commit to an impossible list, keep it simple, few and “SMART”.
  5. Pursue your goals each day as if it is your last opportunity to accomplish it.
  6. Help others achieve their goals. You will need people to help you too.
  7. Share your goals with someone you trust and respect to keep some level of pressure on yourself and to be accountable.
  8. Avoid relativity, it limits you. Don't just aim to be the best in your class, your village or workplace, rather aim to be the best that you can be or that is humanly possible.
  9. Stay focused but be adaptive. Think about what to start doing, things to do more or less of, and things to stop doing.
  10. Celebrate the process as much as the final outcome. Even if you don't succeed learn from the process, review, reflect and re-set your goals.

Your goals should make you want to wake up in the morning, keep you going during the day, make you reflect at the end of the day, and give you something to dream about when you sleep.

Life is not fair so things may not exactly work out as you planned. Success is not always determined based on how well you diligently implement your plan but how prepared you are for events you didn't plan for and how you respond to those you couldn't have planned for.

In the end, how well you achieve your goals is not a function of your academic and professional qualifications, who you know or those who know you, where you come from, your religion or faith, neither is it about how hard you pray but your WILL to succeed.

As you set your goals, like Nelson Mandela once said, may your choices (and goals) reflect your hopes, not your fears.