The New Year is often accompanied by a combination goals, dreams and ambitions motivated by a range of internal and external factors, often well intentioned, occasionally realistic, seldom framed in the negative and highly personal.

By yesterday, it is likely that most of the commitments made have been tested and some will have crumbled.  Depending on how many such commitments you made, it may be that you are back to where you ended the year, still eating cheese, not exercising enough, and resubscribing to  that online service you never really used, but now seems crucial.

This is the thing about dreams – you have to work hard to make them come true.

Ambition is a valuable characteristic, both in life as in business, but in order to be effective it needs to have focus.  Ambition without focus is at best a waste of time and energy, at worst, the cause of  mounting problems and deepening worry.

If you want to launch a rocket, you need a supportive take-off point. It needs  to be designed with equilibrium in mind and the engines need to be sufficiently powerful to accelerate, but not so much that they explode. You also need a destination. You need to know where it is going. You need a target.

In the 60’s, the target was the moon. Sufficiently ambitious as it had not been done before, but it is also literally the closest thing to our planet. Moreover, it was clearly defined and easily explained.

And look at where rockets are going now …

Targets are the objects of ambitions. They give us the focus we need to fulfil our ambitions and if/when we are successful, we can reset them whilst maintaining the overall goal. NASA didn’t start by wanting to land on Mars, but just a few decades later, they have and gone way beyond.

Chances are, when you were sitting around your home in that vacuous window between Christmas and New Year, various impulses would have come to you. You assess the year past, and consider the year to come. But maybe rather than thinking of one thing – run a marathon, get a new job, move house, consider the ambition that lies behind it. Get fitter, challenge myself professionally, make more money, improve my living standards.

These are highly personal things. You cannot have an ambition for another person. You can have hopes for them, you can help them to work on them, but the ambition must be theirs. As it also must be yours.

In your business, go back to your original plan.  Think about what you wanted to achieve when you started.  Have you got there? Are you working towards it? Are you veering off course as opportunities or distractions appear in your path? By giving yourself a target, your ambition will retain it’s focus. You will have a specific set of steps to take to achieve the target and you will always be working towards the big picture.

If you want help in defining your ambitions, setting your targets, and achieving your goals, get in touch with Real Ideas. The name is a clue.