Over the years, I have developed a strategic method for achieving important goals in all areas of my life. Whether it’s been quitting smoking, developing a marketing message, or inventing a new product, I’ve used the same steps and honed a process that is an effective formula for success. You can apply these steps to anything you wish to create, from a fitness goal to launching a business. Just take it one step at a time:

  1. Create a picture in your mind of what you want.

Visualize with as much detail as you can, a vibrant full-color picture of what it is that you want to create. Construct this mental image so that what you want to see is both clear and inspiring to you. Don’t worry about “the how” or any of the practical aspects at this stage. The most important thing is to create a vision you feel inspired to pursue.

2. Believe that you can develop what you see in your mind.

I taught myself to believe that I am capable of bringing the vision I have to reality and so can you. Even if you’re not sure how you will do it, or of the time investment it will take, or who you will need to assist you—choose to believe that it’s not only possible, it’s inevitable. Doing so opens you up to discovering how it can be. I live by the mantra, “I believe in Infinite Possibilities.” I encourage you to borrow my manta or create your own.

3. Ask yourself critical questions and feel the emotions brought out by your answers.

Find a relaxing environment where you can think deeply and answer honestly: What would happen if I don’t attain this goal? How would I feel? And if I do achieve this goal, how gratified will that make me feel once the dream has been realized? It’s critical to feel the emotions these questions stir in you and attach the passion you feel to your vision.

4. “Burn your boats.”

As many a military leader has done throughout history, create a scenario where there is no turning back. My version of burning my boats starts with me publicly declaring what I intend to create. I know that I don’t want to look foolish if I don’t follow through, so doing this is powerful motivation to never give up, no matter what temporary obstacles trip me up. Think about what your version includes and take action that will motivate you to follow through on your commitment.

5. Commit to staying the course.

The path to achieving goals is never a straight line. There are many paths to the same destination, so prepare yourself to go through ups and downs, as the appropriate path becomes clear. If you are a creative thinker like me, you may veer off on tangents that catch your interests. If that happens, always come back to the vision and goal you’ve committed to accomplishing. You can learn to capture your creative ideas or pursuits for another time, while staying the course of bringing your primary vision to reality.

It will undoubtedly take more time to create what you most want, that’s where patience comes in. Think of it like this: You may have to walk around the same “locked house” several times to find a way to get inside, but if you keep at it, you’ll discover how to pick the lock and get inside. No matter what happens, keep going and never give up. If you adopt this attitude and use these five steps to create a clear and inspiring vision, it is simply a matter of time before you too are realizing things you’ve only dreamed about.

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