Perhaps it’s the start of the new school year, the end of summer, or the realisation that there’s only a few months left of the year that makes September so synonymous with new beginnings.

After an indulgent summer, September is the perfect time to make new goals and it’s likely your New Year’s resolutions are a distant memory by now.

But making and achieving goals isn’t a simple task, explains life coach Nick Hatter of nickhatter.com. “If it was easy, we would all be rockstars, millionaires, successful authors, supermodels and gold medallists.”

The solution? Hatter says: “Celebrate your small victories. A Harvard Business Review study found that daily tracking and recognition of small achievements improves motivation.”

How to make and achieve goals

Hatter recommends following the SMART criteria: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Although he says the best things to do is “create a strategy and action plan for your goal and then take the first step forward – no matter how small the step.”

Nick Hatter’s top 12 tips for sticking to goals

1. Break the goal down into smaller much more achievable goals.


2. Have a strategy and action plan.


3. Have someone you are accountable to and who can help you overcome obstacles and help you understand your inner saboteurs.


4. Celebrate small achievements often to stay motivated.


5. Expect resistance from yourself or others – and push forward anyway.


6. Remind yourself why you set the goal in the first place regularly.


7. Measure regularly: whatever gets measured gets improved.


9. Schedule the work for the goal in your calendar.


10. Be mindful of your intentions and emotional state – avoid HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) and learn tools to improve your emotional management.


11. Work less and sleep more – poor sleep leads to decline in physical and cognitive performance and energy levels.


12. Reflect on your goal regularly – are you moving closer or moving further away?

Consider the strategy of achieving your goal instead of the goal itself

“Goals are not as important as strategies and action plans,” Hatter explains. “Anyone can have dreams and goals. But how many will have a strategy and tangible actionable steps to achieve them?

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“It’s one thing to say ‘I will get a six-pack’. But what do you mean by a ‘six-pack’? How will you measure this goal? How will you get there? What is the strategy you will use to get there? What action will you take today?”

Be mindful of the things that will stop you from achieving your goals

Hatter notes that willpower, emotional state, lack of sleep and being overworked all factor into whether or not we can achieve our goals.

Speaking to the Standard earlier this year, life coach Liz Goodchild said it’s best not to force change. She explained: “We wait, for the perfect moment to come along, for January 1 or next Monday or when it feels right. But the truth is, that moment will never arrive. This is because we usually try to make changes in the wrong way.

“We visualise ourselves as being this meditating, green smoothie drinking, daily yoga practising wonder woman and so we start drinking green smoothies daily, practising yoga every day for an hour and sitting down and meditating each morning for 30 minutes. And guess what? We fall on our face. After a few days, we’re back to the sofa and eating pizza, because our motivation has run out.”

Forming a habit is the best way to create lasting change

Goodchild explained: “As a coach, I don’t really focus on how many days a habit will take to form but focusing more on becoming the type of person who always sticks to your new habit – no matter how small or insignificant it seems.

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“We all have 10 minutes a day to devote to something worthwhile. We don’t need to put aside hours a day to learn something new, or exercise or write or whatever it is you really want to do.”



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