When Bobby announced that he was going to write a novel by the end of 2007, his family was a little skeptical. Bobby has a demanding job in investment banking. Plus, he’s never taken a single writing class. And, to be truthful, the only thing he regularly reads is The Wall Street Journal. So when 2008 rolled around and Bobby hadn’t written more than 10 pages, no one was surprised. Except Bobby. He was upset and felt like he’d failed himself. And his dream of becoming a writer went down in flames.

It’s not that Bobby CAN’T be a writer. The problem is that he set an unrealistic goal for himself. And when you start out with an unrealistic goal, you are setting yourself up for defeat.

According to Professor Richard Wiseman – leader of a year-long study of goal-setting – you’ll have a better chance of reaching a major goal if you break it down into smaller short-term objectives. So instead of a big, broad goal like “I’ll write a novel this year,” you might plan to write five pages of the novel every week.

The study discovered that men who made goals this way were 22 percent more likely to achieve them.

It also helps to make your goals very specific. For example, instead of saying, “I’ll go to the gym three times a week,” you would make a commitment to go every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

[Ed. Note: Setting specific goals and breaking big dreams down into manageable bites are two of the simple yet powerful principles taught in ETR’s Total Success Achievement Program. You can discover dozens more strategies for making your dreams come true with this comprehensive package. ]