We can set goals for ourselves, and then we can set GOALS for ourselves. By this, I mean setting goals that are effective is what we want to focus on. Randomly setting goals is going to give us ... random results! What kind of a house of cards would we be building our stories on if we did that! Realistic goals are three things: measurable, meaningful, and attainable.
As writers, we are our own bosses. We set the pace, we define the story. In setting a measurable goal for our writing, we want to be able to see tangible results. An easy way to do this is to focus on finishing a number of pages per session/day/week, to have a certain amount of chapters done within a certain amount of time, or to edit a certain amount of pages within a certain amount of time. Or, we could focus on sending out a certain number of queries, or posting on social media sites on a predetermined schedule. We need something that shows us that we are making headway.
Attainable goals are literally that - goals that we can reasonably attain. We don't want to set the bar too low, but we also don't want to set the bar so high that it is overwhelming. Take a major goal, and break it down into smaller goals. The feeling of having accomplished a goal, no matter how small, is tremendous! It gives us the needed spark to keep on going.In making sure that our goals are attainable, we need to look at the big picture - what skills do we have, what skills do we need, what else are we going to be doing within the same time period? A little realism doesn't hurt!
To be meaningful, our goals have to take us int he direction we want to go. I have been sidetracked myself by goals that seemed meaningful, but, in hindsight, had nothing to do with where I was at the time, or where I was going. I call that shooting myself in the foot! I have learned a few lessons this way! Recognize that you may have goals in more than one area - you may want to earn a living from your writing, while at the same time you have to pay the mortgage! Make time for the less immediate goal (making a living from your writing, in this case), while still devoting time to your major goal (in this case, paying the mortgage).
Be sure to set both short term goals and long term goals. Make sure that your short term goals support your long term goals, so t hat your house of cards doesn't go boom! Review your goals periodically, to see where you are, and where you are going.