Successful goalsetting is hugely important for growth. In order to achieve anything in our lives that requires time and discipline, we have to learn the skill of setting and reaching goals. It could be losing weight, saving money, writing a novel… whatever it is, much of our success comes down to being able to set and then achieve our goals.

I have found that it’s a lot easier to set goals than to reach them. Spending time in reflection and prayer, sat with pen and paper to record what goals I want to achieve, this is the easy part. And the more fun part. The hard part is then having the discipline to stick to the goals, and make them become reality.

So if like me you struggle with that, here’s three secrets I’ve learned for successful goalsetting, to help you stay the course.

Clarity: Do you know precisely what you want to achieve? Have you got a SMART goal of where you’re going, rather than a vague intention? There’s a world of difference between “I want to lose weight” and “I want to lose 10kg by 31 December 2015.” Clarity on the goal helps keep you focussed, and it allows you to celebrate when you know you’ve achieved it.

Motivation: Do you know why this goal is important? If it’s something that is really important to you, then articulate it in the strongest possible way to keep you motivated. Again, there’s a world of difference between “I want to lose weight so I feel better” and “I want to lose 10kg so that I feel less tired each day, have more physical and mental energy, have more confidence (which will improve my work, and my general quality of life), and probably live longer, with better quality of life.”

Action Steps: Having articulated the goal with clarity, and reminded yourself of the motivation, you now need to clearly lay out the action steps that will help you get there. So the action steps for losing 10kg could be working out at the gym 2-3 times per week, and sticking to the 5-2 fast diet each week.

So there’s three tips to help you with successful goalsetting. Sharing the goal with a friend so you have accountability is also a good idea. So ask me at the end of the year if I managed to shed that weight!

Mark Williamson works as a director of One Rock. He’s an experienced leadership trainer, author of biographies on John Wesley and William Wilberforce, and is also passionate about praying for London. He enjoys good films, good food, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna. You can follow him on Twitter @markraynespark.