GOALS have played a huge part in my life, and I am so thankful for them during both my sporting career and during my darkest days.

During my career as an athlete, I always had goals to work towards; medalling at international competitions, securing a spot on the British Senior team, qualifying for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, winning the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, qualifying for an Olympic Games, become world champion.

Now, some of these goals never happened, and I will discuss ‘failure’ in another column. Goals were not only a key component in my judo career, but also in my recovery after my accident in 2016.

It was the goals I set myself throughout my recovery that kept me motivated and sane (for a better word). My goals gave me hope and a purpose each day. Even now, nearly six years after my accident and seven years since my judo career ended, I still set myself goals and work on those daily.

I think we are all great at setting our New Year resolution goals, and personally I am not a fan of New Year resolutions.

Some of us may have already kicked these resolutions to the kerb, but every day is an opportunity to go after what we want! Do we really need a New Year to decide we want to make a change or focus on something we want to achieve? No! We can do that any day, month, time that we choose.

We have the power to dictate what and when our goals are set and then make them happen. Common goals I hear often include 'I’m going to lose two stone before my summer holiday'; 'I am going to pass all my exams'; 'I am going to get that job / promotion'; 'I am going to learn a foreign language'.

All excellent goals, however that is my opinion and that is not important. The beauty of goals is that they are personable to you. You do not need anyone’s approval to set and work on your own goals, you don’t even need to share them if you don’t want to. They are your exclusive goals you want to reach in your life, and you have the control over them and that is a wonderful realisation.

So, my challenge to you whilst reading this – and you can do this roughly in your head – is help you set yourself a goal. What do you want to do, achieve, reach or anything that means something to you, what goal do you want to set yourself?

Let me work through my previous goal of qualifying for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games (GCWG) 2014 for judo as an example. OK we have a goal Steph brilliant job done, what’s next? That is the right question to ask! What next? It is not enough to simply have a goal then sit back and wait for it to happen. You need to create a plan and work hard to achieve it.

Let me take you back to high school PE and learning about SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time). You should be able to explain each letter and how they are relevant to your goal.

For me, S – it was an identified competition. M – come CCWG2014 I would be there, or I wouldn’t. A – I was full-time training in the sport of judo. R – I was currently ranked number one in Scotland. T – selections are to be announced June 2014.

So there my goal was detailed and clear in my head, write down your own goal in this format and it really will help you dive in deep and allow you to gain clarity and focus in on it.

OK, so we have a clear goal outlined, feet up job done. Nope. We need to make this happen. Let’s look at the GCWG as my long-term goal that I set with a period of two years to reach. I now needed to focus on lots of little goals, short term goals, to help me make my outcome happen.

So, for me short term goals seem so simple like turning up to training, trying my best, listening, and working with my coaches. Steph that is so obvious and yes, it is, but sometimes we can brush over the fine details without realising just how important they are.

If I wasn’t working on these three basic things, I would not have built a strong foundation to pursue that GCWG selection. So those are the short-term goals I am working on every week. OK, I also need to focus on competitions, winning fights and results to earn me qualification points. Judo is a weight-controlled sport, so I have to make sure I am meeting all my nutrition requirements and staying hydrated whilst maintaining my fighting weight.

I need to make sure I allow my body enough rest, sure this meant sacrificing a lot of nights out and parties but as Chris Hoy once said, it’s all about those marginal gains that can make the difference between reaching something and not. And, just like that, I have created a stairway towards my long-term goal.

Think of each step on the stairs as a short-term goal which is helping you on your journey to reach that prize. Setting short term goals are also key as they help keep you motivated and spur you on when times are difficult.

So, whatever your goal is, sit down with a pen and paper and write it out, map out your journey up the stairs and get started on it. Remember, it doesn’t matter what your goal is or what you write, you are in complete control so have fun and go after what it is that you really want but haven’t gotten round to.

Do your best because when you reach that goal, and all your hard work has paid off you will look back and feel so proud and happy with yourself.

No matter how big or small your goal is, it’s yours so own it and smash it, take control with your own strength and power.