Amazing post, and very timely! I agree 100% with "create your "big picture" of what you want to do with your life (or over, say, the next 10 years)" - so many people (me included) just don't do this and then struggle with staying on track. I found that by using SMART goals and especially by identifying my emotional attachment (the big reason WHY) behind my goals, I could start to actually achieve them. Now I am hooked!
When you set goals for yourself, it is important that they motivate you: this means making sure that they are important to you, and that there is value in achieving them. If you have little interest in the outcome, or they are irrelevant given the larger picture, then the chances of you putting in the work to make them happen are slim. Motivation is key to achieving goals.
Some coaches recommend establishing specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bounded (SMART) objectives, but not all researchers agree that these SMART criteria are necessary.[6] 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.[7][3]