For many of us, the New Year represents a chance to set personal goals or commit to resolutions with the aim of giving ourselves ‘two thumbs up’ at the end of the following year.

However, when it comes to achieving our resolutions, many of us don’t last longer than a month. Often this is because our goals are rehashed versions of previous years’ goals – that ‘this is the year’ mentality – or are so lofty that the reality of achieving them is nearly impossible.

According to fastcompany.com, the reality is that only 75% of people maintain their resolutions beyond the first week of the year.

Fast-forward six months, and a mere 46% are able to truthfully declare that they have maintained their resolutions.

However, the fear of failure should not stop you from making a plan. Research show that, regardless of whether or not you stick to your resolutions, the process of making them is still a useful one. Explicitly setting resolutions makes you 10 times more likely to succeed in achieving them than somebody who doesn’t clearly set goals.

Those who set SMART goals are much more likely to succeed. SMART is an acronym for goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused and time-bound.

When it comes to goal setting, brands and business are no different to individuals. The New Year provides an opportunity for business leaders to look back at what worked and what didn’t work, gain clarity on where they want to head, refresh current practices and set new SMART goals.

The great news is that all you need to get started is a pen. The act of writing your goals down significantly contributes to their attainment, as it represents a physical commitment to putting that idea into action.

When considering goals specific to communications, it’s important to gain a better understanding of your audience. With your improved understanding you can enhance your communication with – and ultimately grow – your audience. Perhaps you would like to better engage with key industry influencers, generate increased amounts of positive media coverage or grow your social media following. All of these are realistic and measurable communications goals.

An example of a SMART business goal is to increase market share from 5% to 15% by 1 December 2016 by doubling your sales force and widening distribution and reach to become a category leader.

Let’s break it down:

Specific

The goal shouldn’t be complicated. It should be simple, written down for the entire team to see, and should clearly articulate the steps you are going to take to achieve it.

Increase market share.

Measureable

Use tangible evidence to determine that you have accomplished the goal.

From 5% to 15%.

Achievable

The goal should stretch you, but should be clearly defined so that you can achieve it. Before you set the goal, ensure you have the right skills in place to meet it.

Double sales force.

Results-focused

The goal should measure outcomes, not activities.

Become a category leader.

Time-bound

The goal should be set within an achievable timeframe that creates a sense of urgency.

By 1 December 2016.

Increasing market share may seem like a lofty goal for many, but it’s ultimately a goal shared by most businesses.

SMART goals provide a clear direction the whole team can stick to. Creating concise and realistic goals, supported by a comprehensive plan, is one of the most valuable tasks you can set yourself at the commencement of each New Year. Not only does it help everyone work towards the same end point, but it also provides guidance should a sticky situation manifest.

Importantly, don’t dwell on past or failed goals. Learning what went wrong and how to improve, or what went right and how to do more of it, is crucial to a fresh start.

Regardless of what your goal happens to be, make sure it’s SMART and focuses on the future, not the past.