What can you do in a year? A lot, it turns out.

A year ago, I was hired by a fitness expert who wanted to change her image. She was well liked in her industry, but she wanted to become known for her other new passion -- helping others to live more organized and productive lives. Yes, she was still going to advocate a healthy lifestyle and would continue to build her fitness brand. But this new identity was the one that was really compelling to her. She had decided to write a book on the subject and had set a significant goal for herself. She wanted the book to debut on The New York Times best-seller list.

It's amazing how much easier it is to help someone else realize her goal than it is to implement the same strategies for yourself. Of course, she was paying me, which helped me realize my goals of feeding my children and keeping the dog in kibble. My own goals last January were positive but meager. I was going to make a decision about school I thought was best for my daughter. I was planning to complete the masters program I was already enrolled in. I wanted to finish writing the book I had nearly completed. Almost all of my goals were related to paths I had already started, or necessary tasks and were entirely possible.

But my client set a goal significantly outside of where she was when she set it. It was a stretch. We could fail. But, if she succeeded, I knew she would be really, really excited. And if her book didn't debut on The New York Times best seller list and if she didn't get 100,000 customers to go through her free online program -- she would be close, and her ultimate goal (to change categories) would still be accomplished.

Spoiler alert: she succeeded. It took 12 months and many late nights, but in that time, we built a loyal brand following, offered free products to customers to build a list and manufacture enough excitement over the launch of the book to propel it to the best-seller list. We learned the strategies that have worked for other authors and experts by doing a lot of research and learning from their success. When something wasn't working, we changed direction quickly. She delivered a consistent message and, using social media and online marketing, continually providing relevant content that spoke to her customers. Everything that we did has been done before and could be done again.

We live in an immediate world. Popular opinion can be gauged in moments as status updates fly across our desktops. Yesterday's news feels like it was decades ago. And we no longer have to be chosen in order to be famous or relevant. We can share our message, or build our brand relatively quickly. The barriers that once kept people out of the media and confined to their own cubicle or kitchen are gone.

The only barriers that remain are those in our own minds. The messages we repeat to ourselves that keep us from making big plans will not stop until we replace them with a plan and begin to implement it. It's scary to ask for more. But it's scarier to continue to set small goals and achieve them.

I made progress last year, and I learned a lot. My family was safe and healthy. Our bills were paid. I spent time with my family and with people I love. I would even say I was happy.

Krista Richards Mann is a Westport writer, and her "Well Intended" column appears every other Friday. She can be reached at: kristarichardsmann@gmail.com.