College has a way of making you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, working hard but not moving closer to your goals. Doesn’t it?

Most students fail to achieve their goals because they focus too much on the outcome, and not enough on the activities that reach this outcome. You can overcome this by transferring your goals into daily tasks.

The truth is, you can make your dreams come true because there is an easy four-step formula for success:

1) Build the bridge

First, do this one essential activity, which defines the transitional steps that bridge your aspirations into actions. Ask yourself “How can I achieve this goal?” then write down all the answers that come to mind.

For example: If your goal is to “Learn to play piano,” you would write down the following steps:

  • Find a teacher
  • Find a piano
  • Sign-up for lessons
  • Practice piano

Simple, right? But we’re not done yet. What you have here are only intermediate steps. They carry clear directions, yet are not specific enough to put on your task list.

By the way: using a school planner is the smartest way to track your goals throughout this process.

2) Break it down

For each intermediate step you must create goal-tasks. Do this by writing down the first action that comes to mind, and then the next, and the next, and so on.

In the above example: you could create the following goal-tasks for the first intermediate step “Find a teacher:”

  • Search online for local piano teachers
  • Research / compare lesson costs
  • Call piano teachers for availability
  • Decide on piano teacher

Now that’s more like it. You can really act on these tasks! In creating goal-tasks, it’s important to be as thorough as possible – think of them as baby steps.

While playing piano may not be your goal, you can apply the process to anything you seek in college. A completed project, good grades, or a great job.

Remember this: A poorly-defined activity can cause a roadblock that hinders your progress and discourages you from getting started.

3) Get on schedule

Now that you have an action list for each goal, you can integrate these goal-tasks into your daily and weekly planner schedules. Here are some suggestions:

  • Keep your goal sheets visible while planning your week
  • Dedicate at least one goal-task each week
  • Write goal-tasks into your monthly Master Task List
  • On your calendar, write in due dates (or milestones) for each intermediate task
  • Don’t overwhelm yourself, space your goal-tasks evenly over your time period
  • Keep your commitment fresh by scheduling at least one goal-task each week

4) Follow your dreams!

The last essential tip is you must believe enough in your goal-tasks to follow-through on them. Yes it takes discipline, and yes you will face procrastination and distraction. But, to find success in college you must focus on the reason behind each activity.

Think to yourself, “It’s not just another task, it’s a stepping-stone toward my grades, graduation, and career!” And, once you can cross that item off your to-do list, the feeling of satisfaction is amazingly contagious.

Remember this: It takes just a little momentum to carry you through another successful day, and one step closer toward your goals. Now, go after your goals today!

Jeff Doubek is Day-Timer’s Spokesperson and author of the Day-Timer Blog. He shares useful tips on time management and productivity that you can use today. Contact Jeff with any questions or comments regarding planning and time management tips using Day-Timer solutions.