Secrets of Success: How to Have Your Best Year Ever (Really!)

Self help is big business. Every day essays, articles and books are published purporting to tell their eager readers how to live their best life, their perfect life, how to follow their bliss. It's enough to make any girl's head spin. While we're not suggesting you forgo the books altogether, here are a few easy tips to follow that will definitely get you in the right headspace for making 2013 your best year yet. No joke. Have a goal? Sometimes it's a matter of mental strength, other times it's about getting your butt in gear and making it happen. Follow these tips and you'll be on your way to doing both. Go ahead, print it out, put it up in your office or bedroom, and re-view on the regular.

Be Specific

There's a big difference between "I want to make more money next year," and "I want to make 25% more money next year, which breaks down to X-amount of dollars each month." The latter type of goal setting gives you something to shoot for and allows you to create a solid plan of action to get there. If you know exactly what you want to achieve, chances are much greater you'll achieve it. The same is true for "I'm going to start eating healthier," and "I'm going to have at least one serving of fruits and vegetables every day." Whatever your goals are, if they're general, make them more specific, says Heidi Grand Halverson, author of "9 Things Successful People Do Differently."

Realistic Assessment

Studies show that goal setters who are real with themselves about what they need to accomplish to reach their goals, actually reach their goals. Those who are stuck in perpetual optimism mode tend to put action off indefinitely or take the easy route. It's the difference between spending your day reading articles like this, or spending your morning reading articles like this and then utilizing the advice with your actions in the afternoon. Taking action is intimidating, but if you sit down and realize what you need to do, it can then be broken down into smaller, real steps.

Avoid Overplanning

Once you've got some actionable steps and/or specific goals written down, you might be tempted to take it further and start planning out everything you want to do, such as: 8 a.m. drink first of 8 glasses of water per day, 10 a.m. meditate for 10 minutes, 12 p.m. look for new job. The problem with planning everything down to the minute is that life happens, and it messes with even the best laid schedules. It's enough to write down what you want to do in a day, a week, etc. and let your natural time frame be your guide. Look at your list often, and slowly but surely you'll strike things off as you have the time to do them. The human brain works intuitively that way, according to David Allen, author of "Getting Things Done."

Carpe Diem (No Really!)

This is tied to our previous point about overplanning. Make sure you're actually looking at that list a few times per day, assessing if you've got a few extra minutes to pull something off of it. David Allen advises never to put off anything that will take less than two minutes. You'll be shocked at how getting the little things done makes room for the bigger stuff.

Be Competitive, With Yourself

This is much harder said than done. But it's worth it to mention as a necessary reminder. When you compete only with yourself, striving to do better than you have in the past, you'll find you might pass by others who you previously thought were doing so well. When you compare yourself to others, their achievements become intimidating, which hinders your ability to conquer your own mountains. If you need to, pare down your Facebook friend list, Twitter followers or even Google Plus account, that way you can get back to focusing on your goals, rather than everyone else's.

Persevere, Persist, Never Quit

History is riddled with amazing examples of persistence in the face of adversity. People who had a "late start" or those who failed over and over only to get up and try again, are the ones who ultimately succeed. Thomas Edison (who famously tried 10,000 different materials before he found the right one to make a light bulb turn on) once quipped, "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." You don't want to be that girl who gave up right before she was about to succeed, right? Prepare yourself ahead of time and know there will be setbacks, but also know you can always get back up and try again.

image: IMAXtree