A dream is nothing without having a plan to achieve it. Now is the time to take those things that you’ve always wanted to do and turn them into goals that you can accomplish. Having a goal is more than just saying you want to do something. A goal has to be specific, measurable, and have an expiration date.

First, your goal needs to be specific. Instead of declaring that you want to be a better pilot, say you want to be get better at landing in crosswinds or cross country flying. If you can clearly articulate what it is that you want to do, you’ll be able to focus on that goal and figure out a path to achieving it.  

Your goal needs to be measurable. You’ve stated that you want to get better at crosswinds, but how do you know when you’ve achieved it? Set a finish line. Declare that you want to be able to safely handle the max demonstrated crosswind of your airplane. Working on cross country flying? Set a number of hours, flights, destinations, or even distances so that you have something to work up to. With a measurable goal, you’ll have something that you can point to and say “I’did it.”

Next, give yourself a time limit. If you don’t give your goal an expiration date you’ll never have any sense of urgency to get it done. “I want to have my pilot’s certificate by August 1st” is a specific, measurable goal with a time limit. Once you’ve determined your completion date, you can set up benchmark goals for yourself. You can say “I want to have the written exam done by June 1st”, or “be ready to solo by May 1st.” Focusing on these little steps will give the chance to celebrate little victories along the way to your ultimate goal, and will help keep you motivated.

Your dreams will remain dreams unless you do something about them. Take the new year as an opportunity to transform your dreams into goals and take action.