You will probably have heard of the joke question that has a very serious point behind it – ‘How do you eat an elephant?’; answer – one bite at a time. But the meaning holds very true for goal setting and maybe more especially for personal goals. There are probably so many things that we want to achieve in our lives that we can be tempted to set multiple targets, but if we take on too much, we run the risk of failing at all of them.

Goal setting, and certainly the path toward achieving a goal, is not necessarily straightforward. Think about this and it makes sense. If your goal was so easy to achieve, you would probably have achieved it already. So stop giving yourself a hard time and get realistic about what it will take in terms of effort, planning, resources etc, to achieve your goal. Only when you have all that in place will you be successful with your goal setting.

You may need to improve on a skill you have. You may need to get a bank loan. You may need to talk with other people about resolving issues with them that are making you unhappy. Also, once you begin to approach your goals one step at a time, the bigger goals start to look much more attainable and this helps you to maintain confidence and not be put off in your efforts.

Once you know what the steps to successful completion of your goals are, you can plan them and take them gradually, one step at a time.

Is your timing right to accomplish these goals?

Going on a diet right before Christmas is almost doomed from the start. You have to be physically and emotionally in a good state to make sensible decisions and to be able to act upon them in order to make success happen.

What is preventing you from achieving your success?

Make a list of issues you need to resolve. Chat with a friend or partner you trust and together, think of ways to get round these issues. There are always ways! You might not just see them yet.

Sometimes, even when you have tried your hardest, things just don’t go according to plan. That’s not failure. That’s life. Life’s a wonderful and varied thing, but you get the odd curve ball thrown in there every now and then. You should view failure as a ‘detour’. Only you have decided the path your life should take, so what’s the big problem about tackling things in a different way? If your regular route to work or to the shops was blocked by road works or a traffic accident, would you panic? No – of course you wouldn’t. You’d take another road. You may even see things you didn’t expect to see that way to.

So it is with goal setting! There’s no one definition of success and there’s not just one way to get it. Often you might wind up on another road for a little bit before actually making it to your destination. And one the nicest things about life is that you may find that that detour you had to take makes you happier than if things had gone the way you planned initially. Embrace the opportunities as a result of change and adapt to them.

If fear of failure is all that’s preventing you from success ask yourself these questions:

Am I happy now?

Do I really want that thing I dreamed of?

What’s the worst thing that can happen if I don’t get what I want in a reasonable amount of time?

Will I look back on this in five years time and wish I’d had the guts to go for my dream?

The answers to those questions should tell you what success means to you. It should help you see you haven’t failed and that you have a whole lifetime ahead of you now to achieve what you want. Don’t think of having failed! Think of what you still want to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it. Having thought through these questions, you’re in a much better position to achieve your goals.