One of my mentors, Dean Wesley Smith, made a series of excellent posts about goals to his blog in December. The one thing that it crystallized for me was the difference between goals and dreams.
Dreams are important. They're the gold rings that keep us galloping. An example of what Dean calls a Big Dream is: "I want to be a New York Times #1 bestseller." A great dream to have, but a crummy goal. Why? It's out of my control.
Goals should be based on things we can control. If I want to be a Times bestseller, the best way—the only way—to get there is to write and submit books. So a goal that I can set in order to work toward my dream might be to write and submit two novels this year.
Simple distinction, but I hadn't made it before and so was setting "goals" that were actually dreams and then being disappointed when they didn't come through.
Hats off to Dean for setting me straight.