Where do most people fail?
I can't tell you how many people I see making lofty goals. This isn't the problem!
The problem is that everyone makes outcome goals but fails to ever make performance and process goals. Without performance and process goals, outcome goals are simply just a dream. Think of a house that has two stories but no staircase to let you reach the second floor. This is what an outcome goal looks like by itself. however, when you add in the steps (process goals) and railing (performance goals), you are magically able to reach the next level of your theoretical house.
Show me an example of these goals
I will use this example because I've already seen 10+ athletes make the same goal. Winning a state time trial championship. Here is how this looks most of the time
Goal: Win the state time trial championship...
Here is how it should ALWAYS look
Outcome goal: Win the state time trial championship
Performance Goal: Improve my cycling threshold from 280 watts to 315 watts
Process goal: Ride X number of hours a week on average and accumulate "X" training stress score on average for "x" amount of time
Which goal do I focus on?
This is my favorite part. You focus 95% on the process goal. In return, your process goal is going to allow you achieve your performance goal. Then, your performance goal will allow you to achieve your outcome goal. The outcome goal is only there to keep your motivation high for the duration of the season. However, it is the process goal that you are constantly focused on. If you can maintain your process goal, you are going to be in a much better place when it comes time to try and achieve your outcome goal.
Goals should follow the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time specific) guidelines. Be sure to associate numbers with your goals so you have something objective to strive for. Finally, I'll leave you with this. Outcome goals aren't always within your control due to weather conditions, who shows up at a race, or other un-controllables. However, process goals are always within your control. Its the process goals that change who you are as an individual, the outcome goal is simply just an outcome of all your hard work. Don't ever forget that you are made during the journey, not solely because of one day.