Stop dreaming of a better physique '" and start building one. Here are the 6 key steps to goal-setting success.

When it comes to motivation, not everyone is lucky enough to have Mickey Goldmill screaming in his ear. The cranky owner of a decrepit Philly gym had Rocky Balboa eating lightning, crapping thunder, and punching his way to the heavyweight championship of the world.

You, however, live in the real world. Your wife may yell at you to take out the garbage, and the guy you cut off on the freeway may hurl an obscenity or two your way, but you're not likely to have a Mick to rely on to give you constant verbal prodding. For you, motivation must come mainly from within.

Of course, merely having a raspy-voiced curmudgeon with a penchant for colorful commentary and unorthodox training methods isn't enough to accomplish your aims and inspire you to greatness anyway. More important is a specific plan of attack '" and to that end, the following six-step strategy will give you a puncher's chance of emerging victorious in the pursuit of your own fitness ambitions.

1) Decide on your long-range goal ... and write it down

Comparing this step to trying to get from point A to B without a map may not resonate with most men '" "Directions? I don't need no stinkin' directions!" '" but even the most hardheaded would have to admit you at least need to know your destination in order to ultimately get there. What exactly do you want? Twenty inch arms? To be 200 pounds with under 4% body fat? The fitness level to complete a triathlon? Think about it carefully, and once you have your goal in mind, write it down, along with a reasonable date you would like to achieve it, and keep the paper in a location where you will see and review it often. You can make multiple copies, perhaps taping one of those copies to the front of your training log.

2) Break down that main goal into smaller components

Now that you have a long-range goal, break it down into smaller measurable and achievable goals, each with a time component that in the end brings you to your main aim. For instance, If you want the aforementioned 20-inch arms, you obviously first need to measure both arms to see where you're starting. If you're at 16 '" the circumference measured at the tallest peak of your biceps, arm flexed '" and two years is your timeline, your short-term goals may be an inch every six months (or a half-inch every three). An overriding concern is to keep your objectives achievable. Gaining 20 pounds of muscle in a month, or running a record time in a half-marathon in three months when you haven't even begun a regular running program, is unrealistic and will only lead to frustration and disillusionment.

3) Announce your intentions

It's a lot easier to give up and fail to achieve a goal if you're the only one who knows about it. To put some pressure on yourself to stick to it, tell your friends and family about your ambitions. Once others are aware, you'll be driven to not publicly fail in their eyes. It may be a dirty trick to play on yourself, but it's an effective one '" and it certainly can't hurt to have the support of friends and family along the way.

4) Post a visual reminder

On the fridge or other prominent place that you'll see often, place a photo from a magazine of the physique you ultimately want to build. Then, next to it, place a current photo of yourself, and update it every two to four weeks. It may be a constant reminder of a harsh reality, but if you choose an "ideal" that's achievable '" which for most of you means you should be choosing a model out of Men's Health and not a pro bodybuilder '" and you stick to your training and nutrition program, the changes will come.

5) Commit to a training partner

It's not always possible, but if you can find someone with similar goals who will work out with you, you stand a much better chance of reaching the finish line. Knowing someone is counting on you, is waiting at the gym for you in those early morning hours when you're tempted to hit snooze and roll over, who's enduring the same nutritional restrictions, will serve as a daily motivation to not throw in the towel.

6) Review your progress

So many people set a goal, and then let it slowly slide out of mind as the daily rigors of life push it into oblivion. That's why the steps outlined here ask that you place the written goal in areas of prominence. "Out of sight, out of mind" may be a tired clich