Setting -- and achieving -- your goals in the upcoming year.

2005 is just around the corner, folks. Are you ready to tackle it with passion, skill, optimism and enthusiasm? Are you ready for whatever 2005 throws your way? Or, are you still struggling to get through 2004 in one piece?

Regardless of what this year has put on your plate, you can begin anew in 2005. Will you be ready?

Each year, millions of people begin the new year with hope and desire that their lives and/or careers will in some way be better, more rewarding or less stressful. Many of these same people fail to understand a simple yet profound concept, and that is that to wish, hope, dream and pray is just not enough if you want to guarantee that your life is under control and heading down the path that you want. You have to do more.

There are 10 essentials that you need to understand and apply if you want next year as well as the rest of your life to be better or different in some way:

  • You have to have specific, written goals.

  • You have to have written plans and alternate plans.

  • You have to develop the skills required to fulfill your plans.

  • You have to develop and maintain attitudes that support your activities and goals.

  • You have to take full responsibility for your outcomes.

  • You have to have optimistic and positive - yet realistic - expectations.

  • You have to hold yourself accountable.

  • You have to shed yourself of your self-imposed limitations.

  • You have to extend effort.

  • You have to make wise choices and decisions.

There are, of course, many others, but I guarantee that if you work on these 10, 2005 will be one of your best years ever. This is where we lose a lot of people. Many people will do one or two of the above. Fewer will do three or four and fewer still will do all 10. The interesting thing that I have observed over the years is that almost everyone wants the prize or benefits of doing all 10, but few people want to pay the price required (actually doing them) to deserve the benefits they say they want.

I am not talking here about money, fame, power, wealth, success, education, luck, friends, positive relationships, travel, good health, fun and rewards. I am talking about that unique combination of any of these that you want - things that will make your life satisfying and rewarding to you. No one has the right to dictate what another person's life should be like. No one has the right to criticize another person's choices and outcomes. No one has the right to overuse the word “should” when referring to anyone else.

Our lives are our own. Regardless of your status or circumstances, you are where you are for a number of reasons. If your status or conditions are going to change, it will be because you did something about them. I suggest that you re-consider the list of 10 essentials above and determine where you might need some guidance, help, work, improvement or better understanding so you can take charge of 2005 rather than letting it take charge of you.