Those who write their goals down are more likely to reach them. For me, writing down the main ones in a few categories on an annual basis is a good way to go. I use the time around my birthday each year to inventory goals achieved and set goals for the next year. I pick the most important ones to me and break them down into smaller steps to be accomplished each month or quarter along the way to my next birthday. I learned this technique by reading Maximum Achievement: Strategies and Skills That Will Unlock Your Hidden Powers to Succeed by Brian Tracy.
Goal setting is a very personal thing, though. We all have to take the time to learn what works best for us and stick to that. If a technique sounds good to you, try it for a month or so. Check your motivation and results at the end of the month to determine if that system is a keeper for you. Finding what works best is simply a trial and error exercise. Most importantly, keep trying.
When there is a goal you do not reach in by the deadline, it is time to reassess whether it’s still relevant to keep it on the list for the next year. If it is, no harm done, you just estimated wrong about when you could get it accomplished. So put it on the list again and spend time feeling what it will be like to reach that goal. Then try again. If it is no longer relevant to you, then let it go without worrying about it any further. Turns out it was just not important enough in the grander scheme of things.
Living in the moment and being fully present is also a critical idea to remember when goal setting. It can be easy to be distracted with anticipating a future goal or accomplishment that you must achieve before you can move on or allow happiness in your life. But, there is no need to be unhappy seeking a time in the future when all is will be accomplished. Even though it is important to outline goals and work towards accomplishments, it is also imperative to learn to enjoy the process.