Financial goal-setting – be it a New Year’s tradition or an out-of-nowhere financial intervention – is crucial for long-term success. But there’s a right way, and a wrong way, to set up and strive for financial goals.

Take my case. In 2009, I resolved to write a book for women on personal finance, and handed it in to my editor that August. In 2010, I committed to getting a second property I owned ready for rental, and was able to take a nice depreciation deduction against rental income on my tax return the following April.

Then, at the top of my 2011 New Year’s list was my intention to run a marathon. That October I finished the Marine Corps Marathon and raised $20,000 for the National Hospice Foundation.

What’s important to understand, however, is that all these “successes” were also complete failures as far as resolutions go.

Each of these accomplishments had been on my New Year’s list not just once, but again and again, as I had to carry them forward, unaccomplished in the previous year, to the next. Sometimes, you have to fail a few times in order to win in the long haul.

While I will still continue to put big, audacious goals on my annual resolution list, I have also learned to add these more humble additions: “Don’t give up” and “Be patient.”