It would be amazing if we could wake up one day and be able to play the piano perfectly or know exactly how to diet, exercise, organize or budget. But that’s probably not going to happen. Yet, this sort of magical thinking creeps in every January 1st.

The truth is that there will be a learning curve and taking a longer view is more practical. Plan to reach your goal by this time next year instead of expecting perfection from yourself at 12:00 am on New Year’s.

Often, we see someone doing something and feel inspired – or jealous. A friend learns to play golf and it sounds fun so we want to give it a whirl. Or someone we know lost weight or paid off their debt. We think, “I bet I could do that.” And if you’re super confident, you may even think, “And I’d do it better!”

Then we get everything we need together and launch in. Soon after we realize it’s not as easy as it looks. Often, we give up at that point.

When I was a teenager, I thought that if I didn’t do something well within a few tries, I just didn’t have a gift for it and I needed to keep exploring until I found that thing I was magically endowed to master immediately.

People like Mozart are so rare. Most of us will find something we’re passionate about which drives us to practice the craft regardless of talent. And the more we practice, the more likely are to appear talented. People will see the accomplishment but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Underneath, there’s been a ton of work, learning, time, patience, frustration and failure.

So how to you get from where you are to proficient in a new skill – whatever that may be?

First, make sure it’s the right goal. Is this something you really want or is it a should or are you doing it for someone else? Those “shoulds” are hard to stick with.

Second, start at the end. This time next year, you’ve reached your goal and you feel awesome! Now, work backwards. What did you do to get there. Write up a step by step plan and get it on the calendar. Spend a few hours each week reaching for your goal.

Third, work your plan and adjust as needed. If you’re looking for inspiration, head over to you tube and you’ll find tons of stories of people consistently practicing and reaching their goals. It’s pretty cool.

We’re not successful because we’re prodigies. We’re successful because we’re driven to practice our passions. The passion may be born within us, but it’s the practice that makes us proficient.