It's getting easier and easier to navigate the highways and byways through the magic of GPS. The service is in your car, your phone, your tablet, your watch. You are running out of excuses for not getting to where you want to go.

Wouldn't it be great if such a tool existed for finding your way through life's challenges? If you're like most ambitious people, you're always trying to get more done. The secret is paying attention to what you want to achieve. You can devise your own GPS ­formula by changing the words just a bit.

G is for goals. Make a list of what you want to accomplish so everything is clear and detailed in your mind. Make sure your goals are specific, including deadlines for completion and your measurements for success. Don't overload yourself. Concentrate on just one or two ­objectives at a time.

Goals give you more than a reason to get up in the morning; they are an incentive to keep you going all day.

Most important, goals need to be realistic — beyond your grasp but within your reach in the foreseeable future. Achieving goals produces significant ­accomplishments.

I remember a particular "Peanuts" cartoon in which Charlie Brown is having a bad day. He has struck out for the third straight time in a ­baseball game.

Back in the dugout, he buries his face in his hands and tells Lucy how he will never achieve his dreams of becoming a big-league ballplayer.

Lucy tells him that he's thinking too far ahead and needs to set more immediate goals. When Charlie Brown asks for an example, she tells him to see if he can walk to the pitcher's mound without falling down.

P is for plans. Work out a general plan for achieving each goal over the long term. For instance, if you want a high-level position in your organization, your plan might include earning one or two intermediate promotions, getting additional training or volunteering for specific important committees. Each phase is a goal in itself. Approach each interim goal methodically, and follow a consistent process for ­completing each one.

Try a process that I often use: working backward from the goal. If you want to arrive at Point X within a certain time frame, you need to think about what you have to achieve to get there. That leads to your "S."

S is for segments. Break your plan down into separate segments that are small enough to tackle one after another, and large enough to stretch your skills at least a little. Think in terms of what you can accomplish in a ­single day, where you want to be at the end of the first month and so forth. This gives you a sense of direction and also helps you monitor progress.

You can achieve your goals. But there's one catch. You have to commit to actually taking those steps and sticking to your plan. Staying motivated can be challenging, but keep your eye on the prize.

Otherwise, you'll just be another Marvin. Marvin dreamed of winning the lottery. Every time there was a drawing, he prayed loud and long that he would win. One day, as Marvin was beseeching the Almighty, the clouds parted and a voice boomed out from the heavens. "Marvin, Marvin," the voice said.

"Are you here to answer my prayer?" asked Marvin. "Will you let me win the ­lottery?"

"I will," said the voice, "but you have to meet me halfway. Marvin, buy a ticket!"

Buy your ticket. Set your goals. Follow your plans. Make your steps. Then take them out and look at them often.

Mackay's Moral: Life is full of detours, but you can always get back on track if you use your GPS.

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail