So, how do you go about setting a realistic goal? The simpler the goal, the easier it is to realize. An acronym that can help you define your goals is SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-oriented. Make your goals:

Specific: Your goal needs to have a specific exit; something defined. Simply thinking 'Maybe I want this' or 'Maybe I want that' is of no use because 'maybe' is not specific and you will end up getting now. Even thinking 'I want to feel better' is not specific enough. What does 'better' mean? It can mean one thing to one person and something completely different to another. On top of this, you need to ask yourself what it is that you want to feel better than. However, if you can say to yourself 'I absolutely want this particular exit', you've taken your first step towards achieving it.

Measurable: Your goal needs to be tangible; something you can witness in your everyday life. Perhaps you want to agree better at work, be able to deal with a spider that runs across your living room floor, or comfortably fit into that too tight pair of trousers.

Achievable: Your goal needs to be something that you can attain. It may be nice to think about winning the lottery, though it's very unlikely that you will (more of the pity!). And in any case, thinking about it will not do much to advance your cause in that direction. On the other hand, thinking about losing two stone in weight is something you can achieve.

Realistic: Your goal needs to be based in reality. For example, 'I want to be happy all the time' is not a realistic goal. It would be lovely if it were, but the reality of life is such that bad things do happen and you would be less than human if you spend your day-to-day existence as a grinning zombie! A much truer and realistic goal would be 'I want to feel happier on a day-to-day basis.

Time-oriented: Your goal must be achievable within a specific time-frame. By omitting a timeframe you consciously and unconsciously keep pushing the goal away from you. A part of your mind thinks 'Oh, I can do that tomorrow', and as you know, tomorrow never comes.