How to make goals and stick to them

Richard Branson inside a hot-air balloon in 1991
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 1 January 2021

Happy New Year – I am optimistic that 2021 will bring more hope and happiness as humanity keeps pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Let’s all try and look for the opportunities in the midst of challenges and keep our heads up.

It’s time to make New Year’s Resolutions. Even though it’s been a challenging time, I find that setting goals for the coming year helps me stay focused on the positive and gives me something to keep working towards. The feeling of making progress and having direction can keep us going even when things around may feel chaotic and out of our control.

Owen Billcliffe
Owen Billcliffe

I always try and remind myself that even if you only get one step closer to your goal – it’s still a step in the right direction. All those little steps add up. My tip for sticking to resolutions and goals is quite simple: write it down.

Ever since I was a young boy I have made lists of goals, resolutions and things I need to get done. It’s how I make sense of the ideas in my head, the suggestions I receive, and the progress we are making. What’s more, if I didn’t write down all of my ideas and resolutions, I would probably forget them!

Here are five simple steps for making a list that you will be able to stick to:

  1. Write down every single idea you have. No idea is too small, and no idea is too big either. On a notebook, on your phone or on a napkin – it doesn’t matter where, it just matters that you do it.

  2. Have a few lists. One of far off, outlandish goals and another of manageable tasks to complete every day. This way you can set your vision and be taking steps to get there each day. Make sure you have personal goals as well as business goals. There’s no real separation between work and life, it’s all just living. The same goes for lists.

  3. Mark off every completed task. There are few more satisfying things than ticking off a job well done. Celebrate your successes, even if they are just little steps in the right direction, and keep making new lists! 

  4. Make your goals measurable so you know if your plans are working. There’s no point setting targets if you don’t know if you are hitting them. If you want to write a book, perhaps it’s a word count. If you want to get stronger, maybe this is the amount of press ups. Make sure your daily goals ladder up to a bigger goal. 

  5. Share your goals with others. You can help motivate each other further and hold each other to account. Plus, most activities are more fun with other people – even if you’re sharing progress updates or doing things together virtually. But remember that, in the end, you are doing this for yourself.

Adam Slama
Adam Slama

My New Year’s Resolution for the last few years has been to put my health first. I turned 70 this year and have really focused on my fitness – and I’ve been so happy with how it’s made me feel. I’m so much more motivated and energised when I’m healthy. Looking after your body helps look after your mind too.

My health is still top of my list for 2021. I know there are likely to be many challenges ahead, and I could fill up a whole notebook of things I want to do in 2021, but I know I will be able to deal with everything that comes my way in a better frame of mind if I am fit and healthy.

Katie Doo
Katie Doo

I’ve already added quarterly check ins with myself to make sure I’m staying on track.

What’s on your list for 2021?