In order to be successful, we generally need to set ourselves some goals along the way. Trouble is, when most of us talk about our goals, we tend to use grand language about where we want to go, who we want to be and what we want to do. But it seems like we rarely give much concern to just how we're going to get to that place, become that person or do that thing. We have a destination in mind, but no path by which to get there.
Without specific ideas and plans, these goals are more like fantasies. A common acronym used for setting specific goals is SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.
Be specific: Know what it is that you are aiming for, and what it would look like to be there. That way, as you work toward it, you will recognize forward motion.
Make it measurable: When making a goal, try to lay out some progress points that you can mark off as you pass them. Without these, it's easy to get frustrated, especially if your goal is something that will take some time.
Choose something attainable: Don't make a goal that you know going into it you can't achieve. Don't sell yourself short, but be realistic when you evaluate the attainability of your goal. Think about how you will go about accomplishing your goal, and then try to stick to that. If it's unattainable, you'll quickly become demoralized and you may even hesitate to set goals in the future.
Make it relevant: Is your goal something actually worth achieving? Will it add to your life, make you happy, help you in some way? Is it something you're willing to work for? Obviously, if the answer to that last one is 'no', you're not going to make it very far. So choose something that is worthwhile to you.
Have a timeline: When can you realistically complete this goal? How long will each step take? When will you start? Clearly, these may not be absolutes, as things are likely to take somewhat more or less time than you expect, but if you are realistic about it, you should have a workable time-frame and a checklist to follow that will—with any luck—get you to your goal.
There is nothing to guarantee that you'll achieve every goal you set when you follow these steps. But you'll certainly be off to a good start, and in a better position than you would be simply saying, "Gee, wouldn't it be nice..."