Everyone loves setting goals, it's one of the reasons that productivity and to-do apps are among the most downloaded by smartphone and tablet users alike.
Problem is while we all love having goals we're not clear on how to best achieve them. Most folks think that the goal, that seemingly elusive "end state" is what we should put our focus on. I beg to differ.
Reality is that the best way to achieve any goal remains to focus your attention on the processes that get you there. (As an example, read this Fast Company blog by Dilbert creator Scott Adams) Let's take an example, let's say you decide you want to be in awesome physical shape. Are you better off focusing on a combination of [a] your desired weight and [b] specific body measurements or are you better off focusing on [a] getting to the gym just three days every week and [b] eliminating all the "bad food" you eat?
If we operate on the premise that your ideal weight (175 pounds in my case; I'm currently 188 but was 227 lbs. two years ago) is 200 lbs. I might be crazy, but hoping that your ultimate weight will remain a long-standing motivator seems improbable, weight loss is a slow and tedious process isn't it? I mean, is watching a drop in quarter or half pound increments really gonna do it? And, it's so easy to "stop" and be content when the first ten come off, afterall, dieting is hard and ten pounds is probably gonna make your clothes fit better.
But you can get energized by ending a day knowing that you got to the gym and did a workout, any workout, on your way to your goal. (P.S., "any workout" is also a better "process" than expecting yourself to be a gym maniac every time you show up there...) And, you can pat yourself on the back knowing that you got through another day without Dunkin' Donuts or fast food. Focusing on the process allows for every day to be a win, instead of the notion that you're killing yourself and still have 25 pounds more of killing yourself to go.
See, if you focus on the "steps" and not the "end" things look a lot different. There are lots of people who yearn to connect more with their kids and family...work is hard and takes more time than we think. But rather than "forcing" the matter, how about this.  Get home early two nights a week and be around on Saturday,  turn off your smartphone and tablet when you get in and leave it off till the kids are in bed (It'd be better for you if you just left it off, but that's your call). I bet if you can do those things, you'll feel better along the way because the process is key to the goal, not the other way around, and getting the small steps right is more of a determinant of long-term progress.
Bottom line is this; if your goal is to eat an elephant, one bite at a time really is the correct answer and not because it's too big to get down in one gulp.
What's your first bite gonna be and what of.....?