1: Right views - life needs a map the mind can trust if we are to deploy our energies in the right direction; we need to know what life's problem basically is. As such, right views consist of the four noble truths (I know, a little circular, but I didn't come up with these!).
2: Right intent - this involves making up our hearts as to what we really want...people who achieve greatness are almost invariably passionately invested in some one thing.
3: Right speech - this involves becoming aware of our speech and what it reveals about our character. Instead of resolving to speak nothing but the truth, it is likely more realistic to start by trying to notice how many times per day we deviate from the truth and follow-up by asking why we did so. Similarly with uncharitable speech. Once we do this, we can move on to try to attempt changes in our speech. First toward veracity (habitual observance of truth in speech or statement) and second toward charity.
4: Right conduct - again, we should start by trying to understand our behaviour before trying to improve it...reflect on our actions with an eye to the motives that prompted them. Then move our conduct to selflessness and charity.
5: Right livelihood - if we are intent on liberation, we should engage in occupations that promote life instead of destroying it...occupations that were conducive to spiritual progress as opposed to ones that would impede it.
Note that the third, fourth and fifth steps can be grouped under the heading of morality - with Buddha making it clear that moral ineptitude risks not the wrath of a deity, but the retardation of one's own inner development.
6: Right effort - Buddha laid tremendous stress on the will...reaching the goal requires immense exertion - there are virtues to be developed, passions to be curbed, and destructive mind states to be expunged so compassion and detachment can have a chance. "Those who follow the way" says Buddha, "might well follow the example of an ox that marches through the deep mire carrying a heavy load. He is tired, but his steady gaze, looking forward, will never relax until he comes out of the mire, and it is only then he rests." A low level of volition for this goal won't do. Buddha added some thoughts on timing and balance, having more confidence in an approach involving a steady pull rather than in quick spurts.
The last two steps represent the most distinctive aspects of Buddha's teaching - namely the pivotal importance of meditation (or mental development, or mental cultivation). This involves two things which are described in the last two steps.
7: Right mindfulness - "All that we are is the result of what we have thought. Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think." Right mindfulness aims at witnessing all mental and physical events, including our emotions, without reacting to them, neither condemning some nor holding on to others. Through right mindful practice, we begin to see that every mental and physical state is in flux, and habitual clinging to these states is at the root of much of life's problems. We also see that we have little control over our mental states and our physical sensations, and normally little awareness of our reactions. Most important, we begin to realize that there is nobody behind the mental or physical events, orchestrating them. It becomes apparent that consciousness itself is not continuous...like the light from a light bulb, the on/off is so rapid that consciousness seems to be steady, whereas in fact it is not. With these insights, the belief in a separate self-existent self begins to dissolve and freedom to dawn.
8: Right concentration - while the eighth step, in many ways it comes before the seventh because to undertake mindfulness exercises effectively, one must first learn to focus on'e mind. Buddhism counsels patient, persistent attempts at sustaining one's full attention on a single point, a common one being simply one's breathing. Initial attempts are inevitably shredded by distractions; slowly, however, attention becomes sharper, more stable, more sustained.
It should be noted that concentration does not end when mindfulness begins; in fact, they are mutually reinforcing.
Note: the above was extracted from Buddhism: A Concise Introduction by Huston Smith and Philip Novak.