Do you have big plans for 2013? Maybe you want to start your own business, change careers, or nab a big promotion. Maybe you want to grow your business or learn a new skill. It’s easy to make big goals this year, but bringing your plan to fruition takes hard work.

If you’re looking to set new professional goals in 2013, it’s important that you set yourself up for success. And that means setting the right kind of goals. Here are six tips for setting business goals that will stick this year:

1. Drop the all-or-nothing New Year’s resolution
Now that we’re past the very start of the year, let me say it: setting goals shouldn’t be limited to January 1. In fact, focusing on the all-or-nothing, once-a-year framework of the New Year’s resolution can be a recipe for failure. One study found that 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions eventually break them, and 33% break them within January. And once a New Year’s resolution is broken, what then? Do you wait until next year? So put away the calendar: you can make important goals any time of the year.

2. Set attainable goals
Being realistic is one of the most important lessons in goal setting. Yes, dreaming big is noble, but nothing can break your momentum more than trying to bite off more than you can chew. Maybe your dream is to start a business and make a million dollars. Focus on the first goal, start your own business. By keeping each goal within reach, you’re setting yourself up for success and before you know it, you’ll have gotten farther than you ever dreamed possible.

3. Set specific goals
The more specific your goal, the greater your chance for success. Too often, people create vague resolutions like “I want to save money” or “I want to be healthier.” These type of goals are too nebulous and don’t provide you with any guidance on how to make it happen.

Here’s an example. A vague goal might be “I want to get more customers this year.” A more effective goal gets down to the nitty gritty details…something like “I will do 5 cold calls each week.” The key is to put the focus on your own actions. You can’t necessarily control whether you land a new client, but you can control the steps you take to earn their business.

4. Set “bite-sized” goals
Most important goals can’t be accomplished all at once. Here, success depends on breaking down a big goal into a series of smaller steps that let you track your progress. If you are serious about wanting to make things happen, then identify all the smaller steps involved and assign deadlines to these sub-goals. Keep your momentum up with little rewards for completing each sub-goal and always remind yourself how each task fits into the larger picture of your overall goal.

5. Share your goals
Studies have shown that making your goals public increases commitment and accountability – which are both critical to increasing the chances you’ll attain your goal. This doesn’t mean you need to share your goal with everyone you know on Facebook or Twitter. In fact, it might be more effective to find a goal partner or group where you can check in every so often for support and to discuss your progress and any challenges you’re facing.

6. Visualize your goals
If you are unfamiliar with the term ‘visualization,’ it’s the process of creating visions (either through mental imagery, pictures, or vision boards) of what you want and how to make it happen. This technique is often used by athletes to improve performance by first imagining the process of achieving a certain feat, such as hitting a golf ball. If you want to put visualization to work for you, take a few slow, deep breaths and visualize your goal with as much detail as possible. The more clearly you can picture a goal, the closer and more tangible it will seem.

While some people use vision boards or maps to visualize their goals, I take a slightly different approach. Each year I write a letter to myself focusing on everything I want to accomplish. However, I write the letter as if it were already the end of the year and everything has been accomplished. By writing out this future reality, I help bring my goals to life. Then, at the end of the year, I send this letter to myself and see what I actually accomplished.

In conclusion
Achieving your goals isn’t necessarily a matter of willpower. Rather, it’s about creating the right kinds of goals…ones that are specific, possible, and put you in control of the final outcome. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t reach a goal right away. You may need to step back and think about how you can create even smaller sub-goals to get you there. And remember, you created this goal because it’s important to you. Don’t let it slip away.

Original content written by Nellie Akalp for GalTime.