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Get online to meet your goals

Abbi Perets lives in Houston, TX, with her husband and five children.






new year, new you

Every January, we make resolutions with the best of intentions. But life interferes, time slips away, and all of a sudden it's March, and we're no closer to our goals than we were before.

This year can be different for you. You can keep your resolutions, meet your goals, and accomplish things you've dreamed of for years. Yes, you can -- and you can do it with a little help from the Internet.

Make a list.

Start by making resolutions you can actually keep. "A toast is not a plan," says Catherine E. White, president of Llamagraphics, makers of Life Balance software (more on that in a moment). "What is missing is a lot of detail. What do you define as success? Why do you care? What tasks must be done" to get to the finish line you've set for yourself?

A resolution like, "Lose weight" is too vague. "Lose 15 pounds by the end of the month is more specific -- but it's not realistic. Head on over to 43 things to learn more about writing great resolutions, and to hook up with like-minded folks who are working to reach the same goals you are. There's strength in numbers, and the Internet lets you tap into that.

Make it stickK.

When you want to make a change in your life, commitment is key. Over at stickK.com, you can create a Commitment Contract that details what you're going to do -- and by when. Yes -- you'll set a specific time frame for reaching your goal, and you'll also make a public declaration to your friends. So they'll know all about it if you don't get where you said you were going.

Public humiliation is a powerful motivator, but money is an even bigger one. So stickK lets you put money on the line: if you don't meet your mini-milestones or your overall goal, you'll have to pay up to a charity, an anti-charity, or worse. Check out stickK and write up your own Commitment Contract -- but only if you're serious about reaching your goals.

Make sure you're in balance.

It's easy to say something is important to you. But it's not always easy to manage your time in a way that gets you where you want to go. That's where Life Balance, the software mentioned earlier, can help. "Life Balance gives you a structure for making better decisions about how you spend your time. You can be more confident that your time is apportioned among long term goals that matter to you," says White.

It's fairly simple -- you enter your long-term plans and identify the tasks you need to complete to get there. The software then prioritizes your to do list and helps you shift your focus as necessary to meet all of your goals.

For example, let's say you've resolved to hit the gym daily. You check it off each day, and all is well. But then, in late January, you get swamped with work and start staying late at the office. You're too tired to go to the gym, and a week goes by. Your "go to the gym" task will climb higher in your to-do list until you get yourself back on track.

The software "brings your attention and focus back to what you're already determined and motivated to do," says White. You can use LifeBalance on Mac, Windows and iPhone, and the Llamagraphics site has an active community of users who will help you along the way.

Make this year your year. Get online, and get to where you want to be.?

FOR MORE IMPROVING YOU ARTICLES:

How to keep a New Year's resolution

How to achieve your goals for 2009

Taking stock of your year

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