The way you use your time determines everything that happens in your life. All really successful people know that in order to achieve their goals, they must be excellent time managers. Your job is to become one of these high achieving men and women through mastering time management.

Learn time management. Perhaps the greatest single problem people have today is “time poverty.” Working people have too much to do and too little time left over for their personal lives. Most people feel overwhelmed by responsibilities and activities, and the harder they work, the further behind they feel they get. This sense of being on a never-ending treadmill leads you to fall into a reactive/responsive mode of living. Instead of clearly deciding what you want to do, you continually react to what is happening around you. Pretty soon you lose all sense of control and instead of running your life, your life is running you.

Successful people know that time management begins with you. It begins with your thinking through what is really important. What are your values? What do you stand for? What do you care about or not care about? What would you sacrifice in order to get it? What would you pay for? Not pay for? These are the most important questions to ask when deciding to get your time management in order. When you become an excellent time manager, you’ll find out which tasks are most important to you.

Successful people decide what is important. Once you have decided what is important to you, you must decide upon your goals, both large and small, both short term and long term. Try this exercise: Imagine you have no limitations at all. Imagine you have all the time, money, contacts, influence, intelligence and opportunities in the world to have and do anything you could possibly want. Allow yourself to dream big dreams. All peak performing men and women allow themselves to dream before they sit down to the hard business of determining what they can and will do with their available resources.

If you’re married, you and your spouse should sit down and write a dream list. This is a list of everything that you could want to do or have or be with your family. Design your ideal lifestyle. How would you organize your time from dawn to dusk if you were completely free? What great things would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail? If tomorrow you won a million dollars in cash, tax free, in the lottery, how would you change your life? For the purpose of this exercise, alone or with your spouse, decide what you really, really want. Now write it down.

Once you have allowed yourself to dream, the next step is to begin setting goals. Time management only makes sense if you organize it around specific goals you want to accomplish.

Become an excellent time manager: Identify your goals. Successful people know you need goals in three major areas of your life. First, you need family and personal goals. These are the reasons you do the things you do. These are the reasons you get up in the morning and go to work. These are the reasons you work hard and work to upgrade your skills. These are the reasons you worry about money and sometimes feel frustrated by the demands on your time.

Second is business and career goals. These are the “how” goals, the means by which you achieve your personal goals. What do you have to do or be in your career in order to achieve the level of income that will enable you to fulfill your family goals and objectives? How will you achieve it? What do you need to do more of? What skills and abilities do you need to develop to stay ahead of the curve in your career? Business and career goals are absolutely essential because they help you achieve family and personal goals.

The third type of goal involves personal development. Remember, you can’t achieve very much on the outside if you haven’t first achieved on the inside. Your outer life is a reflection of your inner life. If you wish to achieve worthwhile things in your personal and your career life, you must become a worthwhile person inside. You must continue to read, listen to audio tapes and attend courses. You must continually develop yourself if you want to achieve the big goals.

Perhaps the greatest secret to success is that you can achieve any goal that you really want to achieve. But in order to do so, you must get to work on yourself. And never, ever stop.

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Brian Tracy is the CEO of Brian Tracy International, which specializes in business training, and the author of the best-selling Psychology of Achievement. For more information, go to www.briantracy.com.