I absolutely believe in the power we have to create our own lives. Now, I’m not going to go into some weird explanation about manifestation and explaining that all we have to do is think something to make it reality. Although I do believe our thoughts create reality. Instead, I will  do something way simpler: Let you know that writing down what you want actually helps make it happen.

I read Henrietta Anne Klauser’s book, Write It Down, Make It Happen years ago and it reinforced my ideas about the power of writing things down. In her fantastic book, Klauser shows how the act of writing down our goals and other things we want takes them from some fanciful place and turns them into reality. Even if you don’t exactly know how you are going to accomplish the thing, writing it down has magic. And if you are of a spiritual nature, even the Good Book says this is smart, as Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Write the vision, and make it plain.”

I believe, and often share when I speak, that writing down what you want makes you accountable to that thing. And it helps your brain look for ways to make that thing happen.

So as you go into 2013, don’t simply settle for wishful New Year’s resolutions as in years past. Don’t just talk about the book you will write or the articles you will sell. Actually write down, in vivid detail, what you will do to accomplish those goals.

What is your heart’s desire?

First, envision your life with the desired result. Do this for as long as you need, two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes. Then, holding onto that good feeling that rushed over you as you captured the vision, write down this vision.

Next, write down what you will do to make this vision real in your life. Be as specific as possible. Break those broad headings down into steps. Put a date next to each step, for when you will do it.

Then go about doing it.

New Year’s resolutions aren’t built for success

New Year’s resolutions don’t mean much. They’re just more drama to make you feel guilty when you don’t accomplish them. And in most instances, you won’t accomplish resolutions. Not because you don’t want them to happen, but because you haven’t built success into the equation. You’ve made a resolution without a vision. And you’ve set about getting it done without a plan.

So this time, skip the resolutions. Instead, set aside time to capture the vision, write it down, and make it plain with a plan. A big dream can be accomplished when we complete smaller tasks leading up to it. For instance, if your goal is to lose 50 pounds, chop that 50 into smaller increments, say 10 pounds. Working to lose 10 pounds is a lot easier on your mind than the idea of 50. As you lose each ten pounds, set about losing the next ten. Before long, you’ve gotten to the big dream of 50. If your aim is to publish your book, then break that dream into smaller goals: Shoot for writing a certain number of pages or chapters by a certain time. Then shoot for the next milestone and the next. Let those smaller goals lead you to the ultimate one. If you have a goal of writing for a top national publication, then break that goal into smaller milestones like writing for local and regional publications as you build your portfolio. If you don’t break up a big, huge dream or potentially overwhelming task into manageable pieces, you can find yourself stuck in one place, unable to move ahead because the work just seems impossible.

That’s a big reason resolutions fail. You have to take your hopes, goals, and dreams out of your head and put them onto paper.

Do something different this year — Put your dreams on paper and make them happen

It’s worked for me. I’ve been able to write and publish more than 30 books — those I’ve written under my own name and those I’ve ghostwritten for clients. I’ve been able to run a business for more than ten years, going from a part-time freelance writing business that I did on the side while working my day job at a newspaper, to a full-time enterprise that I own with my husband where we have multiple brands. I am a big believer in writing down my goals and breaking big tasks into smaller ones.

You can set and achieve goals and live the dream you envision. You might occasionally get sidetracked or slowed down as life happens, but hang in there. Just hold onto the vision anyway. This New Year doesn’t have to be like every other one, because now, you actually have more than a resolution to push you forward. Tweak the plan as new information comes to you or as you realize better ways to go about a thing. But whatever you do, first, write the vision. That means now. Yes, now.

Go ahead. Write down that big vision. Make it clear.

And make it happen.