For the past two weeks, we have been enmeshed in what I consider to be goal setting season. Everyone is talking about, writing about, and working on their goals and resolutions. And it makes perfect sense. Every year comes with the feeling of having a clean slate and being able to right your wrongs, start anew, and succeed where you’ve failed before.

The problem comes when you have a “resolution” mentality. New Year’s Resolutions are usually not goals. They are simple statements that may get you started in the right direction, but often lack the oomph to survive more than a short period of time. Why? Because resolutions by nature are vague, general and unrealistic wishes. You may even recycle your resolutions every year.

For example, how many years have you made a New Year’s Resolution to quit a bad habit, spend more time with family, or adopt a healthier lifestyle? I would guess most of us say we are going to do something similar every single year. But guess what? If you’re still saying it, you’re not doing it.

And that’s the kicker — resolutions often stop at the statement. Unless you make some sort of plan to get from where you are right now to where you want to be, your resolution is going to slowly fade away during the year. Until you dust it off and use it again next year, that is.

This is one of the reasons I encourage clients to turn their resolutions into goals. Yes, it may take a little more work to think through the implications of why you want to focus on that goal, what milestones will mark your progress, and how you will ultimately achieve it. But that is exactly what makes the process so useful.

I won’t dig too deep into goal setting here; I’ve written a lot about it! This business goal setting ebook and this goal setting resource roundup are must-reads if you’re ready to get moving in the right direction.

The good news is, if you made a New Year’s Resolution, then you’ve already started the process. Just take the next step and grow your resolution into a goal. Keep your initial resolution in mind, though. You may find that using it as a mantra through the goal setting and achievement process is a powerful tool that helps you stay focused. “I am strong; I am healthy; I am a great mom; I am making time for me; I am a successful business owner.” You get the idea.

Oh, and if you feel like you’ve missed the boat because 2012 has started and you’re still without goals, you didn’t! Goal setting isn’t a one-time event; it can (and should) be something you focus on monthly, weekly and even daily. So make today your January 1, and get some goals on paper.