Career Bytes goals

Published on February 14th, 2012 | by Coach Liz


Success planning part 1: New Year’s resolution gone wrong

On January 1st, a whopping 50% of the population made a resolution to change something significant in their life. Were you on the bandwagon? I was, and I’m still riding.

It wasn’t always easy for me to get enthused by the thought of a new year and a new start. My experience with New Year’s resolutions tended to mimic the year I wanted to finally quit smoking. Mind you, during my smoking career I probably quit over 50 times, and number 51 was on December 31st, sometime in the late 1980’s. The resolution didn’t even last 24 hours, but I was in good company. Research shows that by February of each year, over 35% of people abandon their resolution. By the time December comes, just 23 percent of goal achievers are successful. That boils down to just over one person out of five, meaning that nearly four out of five people couldn’t keep their commitment. They, like me, weren’t prepared to sustain new habits. It wasn’t that I was weak. I was truly determined to put down the cigarettes. I wanted it bad, but I had no plan.

I have since become masterful at setting and achieving goals. In part, because I’m careful about which ones I commit to. You might call that “playing it safe,” but I call it being smart. I’m all about winning! No more feelings of failure for me. We don’t need any more of that in our world.

Below is a proven strategy that you can start today, that will virtually guarantee success with achieving any goal!

The three-step success planning strategy

The key to making any goal a reality is to set goals that matter to you! An effective goal is one that keeps you energized! Don’t make them just because it’s what you do in January. Goal setting is any time, but be ready to commit.

Step 1: Clarify your goal

Let me share with you the example of Shane, a former coaching client who has soared to greatness using this strategy. The first of three steps that helped Shane get from point A to point B was to CLARIFY his goal; meaning to see it, feel it, hear it, touch it, smell it and taste it. It had to come alive, be tangible and sensational. It had to be powerful enough that during times of immense disappointment, he could reflect on his motivation for change and become re-energized.

Shane is a musician who had to keep a “day job.” His goal (not set in January by the way…actually March), was to become financially self-sufficient with his music career. Shane wanted to devote himself full time to his art. He knew he had the potential for greatness, but without a full-time focus, he wouldn’t be able to gift the world the way he wanted to.

To plan for that success, I instructed Shane to write his goal down five times, using the time-honored S.M.A.R.T. strategy:






Shane had a dream, a vision and hope, all essential to effective goal setting. What he needed was detailed planning. By the time he had revised his plan, he had a timeframe that was realistic, clearly attainable and relevant.

Make no mistake, it wasn’t easy. Working the plan required daily persistence. On the days Shane felt like throwing in the towel, I would redirect him to his plan and remind him of his vision, even when he didn’t “feel” like working it. He knew that it was too important to give up! If you’re not “all in” with a goal, you probably won’t achieve it. It has to be powerful, deeply personal and passionately felt.

There’s a catch with CLARIFY. What you believe to be most important sometimes is not. Life happens and can sometimes magnetize attention away from the goal. The trick is to manage the compass. Understand that the “devil is in the details.” If your vision and plan isn’t clear, then you are apt to lose course. Set the compass firmly in place with a clear and S.M.A.R.T. goal. The rest will follow.

Next: Success planning part 2: Stepping it up

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About the Author

Liz Merriweather is the co-founder and lead coach at Artist Development Coaching, a company devoted to furthering the lives and careers of artists via the miracles of life and career planning. She brings over 24 years experience to the table as a therapist in private practice and as a life coach specializing in helping people achieve clarity. You can connect with Coach Liz at

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