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By Jeff Herring

RISMEDIA, Jan. 3, 2009-It’s that time of year again-you know, time to set those New Year’s resolutions. The promises we make to ourselves and then break the first week of the year and forget about by the end of January.

What do you say we don’t do that this year?

Instead, choose just one area of your life, and answer the following question:

“What would you like to accomplish in the next 90 days?”

Once you have answered that question, here are 10 steps to get there.

1. Ninety days
Choose something that you would like to accomplish or change within the next 90 days. Ninety days is a much more manageable length of time than a year and allows us to enjoy reaching our goals more often.

2. What to subtract
What is in your life that you would be willing to commit to not being there 90 days from now?

3. What to add
What is currently not in your life that you would be willing to commit to having in your life 90 days from now?

4. Choose one
Whether it is something to remove from or add to your life, pick just one thing to accomplish in the next 90 days. While it’s great to have as many goals as you might want, it’s best to choose just one thing to focus on.

5. Write it down
It does not matter how strong your memory might be, it’s still not as strong as the weakest ink. There is power in writing things down because it reminds you of where you want to go. So when life gets busy and stressful (as in most of the time), you are much less likely to get distracted long enough to lose your focus.

6. Find a model
Find people who have done what you want to do and follow the trail they have left. Success always leaves a trail that if we learn how to follow can save us frustration and time.

7. Create a map
If you wanted to travel across unfamiliar territory you would consult a map. Here are the two most powerful steps to creating your own map. Ask yourself, “What are all the necessary actions I need to take to get to where I want to go?” and write down the actions you decide on and follow them. Doing this allows you to:

8. Be consistent
It’s rarely one big effort that helps us achieve our goals. More often, it’s small consistent actions taken each and every day.

9. Schedule a future action
Whatever your goal may be, right now, today, schedule a future action that anticipates the completion of your goal. If you want to get rid of a certain amount of weight, schedule a shopping trip to buy the clothing that will fit on that day. If your goal is to save or invest a certain amount of money, fill out the deposit slip now and schedule time on that future date to make the deposit.

10. Maintain and celebrate
Once you accomplish a goal, it’s all too easy to cross the finish line and stop doing all the things that got you where you wanted to go. We need to keep doing what has worked, and perhaps do even more of it.

While you are doing this, celebrate. One of the best things about achieving goals is celebrating how far you have come. It’s fun, and it builds momentum for the next 90 days.

Jeff Herring, MS, LMFT, is a marriage and family therapist.

© 2008, Jeff Herring
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.