Keep your motivation high by setting goals that are attainable and relevant to you and your life. Making sure your goals are meaningful, realistic and timely will help you stay encouraged and give you an incentive to press forward. The best goals are those that connect with your intrinsic motivation; in other words, they are things you feel internally compelled to pursue.
Welcome to the club! Great question. There are any number of reasons why we may be unable to achieve a goal by the deadline. Your instincts are on the mark. When you find yourself in a situation where you are unable to achieve your goal by the initial date you set for yourself, revisit the goal. If it is a big goal, break the goal down into smaller goals and set deadlines that are realistic to achieve.
Remember, goal setting is an ongoing activity, not just a means to an end. Build in reminders to keep yourself on track, and make regular time-slots available to review your goals. Your end destination may remain quite similar over the long term, but the action plan you set for yourself along the way can change significantly. Make sure the relevance, value, and necessity remain high.
Mistakes do happen, sometimes with our knowledge and sometimes without knowledge. Committing a mistake is not a sin; to not learn from it and not to emerge strong from the mistake is not smart though. Grab the moment, seek guidance if necessary, contemplate on the years that are left in your one and only life. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.
If you want to succeed, you need to set goals. Without goals you lack focus and direction. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your life's direction; it also provides you a benchmark for determining whether you are actually succeeding. Think about it: having a million dollars in the bank is only proof of success if one of your goals is to amass riches. If your goal is to practice acts of charity, then keeping the money for yourself is suddenly contrary to how you would define success.
The physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible. You have no excuse for forgetting about it. As you write, use the word "will" instead of "would like to" or "might." For example, "I will reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year," not "I would like to reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year." The first goal statement has power and you can "see" yourself reducing expenses, the second lacks passion and gives you an excuse if you get sidetracked.
Some coaches recommend establishing specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bounded (SMART) objectives, but not all researchers agree that these SMART criteria are necessary. The SMART framework does not include goal difficulty as a criterion; in the goal-setting theory of Locke and Latham, it is recommended to choose goals within the 90th percentile of difficulty, based on the average prior performance of those that have performed the task.