Smart planning is probably the only, and is definitely the best way to achieve difficult goals. If you're not stretching in your goals then you have not been paying attention to what we've been saying. But if a goal is a real challenge for you then you had better have a thorough understanding of what it takes to achieve it and plan the steps necessary to get there. Here are some thoughts on planning for your goals.
1. Understanding what you need to achieve them. It's going to be quite difficult to get to the top of your personal Mt. Everest without a full understanding of what you're undertaking. Read, study, learn, figure out what those people who've come before you did right and wrong in their struggle. Learn from them. Be a student of your endeavor. Most everyone who is great at something, especially if they've struggled to attain that greatness is a scholar of their arena.
2. Think of all you need. When you consider what it takes to get to the top of Mt. Everest it is a massive technical and material undertaking. This applies to whatever else you wish to achieve, not just climbing that mountain. It does not mean that you need the latest high tech gadgets or the shiniest new lifting equipment, but you do need to fully understand everything that is necessary to get there. Be it the physical implement, or the new training knowledge or whatever.
3. Time tabling. Planning is essentially breaking down the steps necessary to get a goal and if you're serious it means also putting them on a timetable. Most goals are better achieved with specific timed increments set for their achievement. Breaking goals down into smaller sub-goals and planning your steps in daily, weekly, monthly, etc., increments helps keep you on track.
4. Over planning. Whenever you talk about goals it comes off as if you're making plans to take over a small country. I fully realize that most people do not take most of their goals with that level of obsessive importance. And I do not mean that everyone should or that every part of your plan should be so detailed that you're bogged down in it. Simplicity is the name of the game here. Simple steps make the mountain comparable.
5. Unrealistic planning. This really has to do with being honest with yourself and being practical. Everyone wants to get bigger (well most everyone and for the illustration of this goal that will suffice). But to fall into the snake oil trap and believe and literally plan for yourself to do three hour workouts, six days a week is ridiculous. Almost no one can survive such a schedule let alone have the time or commitment it takes to train like that on any type of long term basis. Start with what you can handle and work up.
6. The 80/20 rule. This rule states that if you boil basically any activity down you get 80% of the results from 20% of the work involved. This is probably even more true of physical culture. If you're doing heavy squats and giving them justice there is not much point in 16 other leg exercises. Because there is so much to choose form in the exercise world and in the other worlds we touch it's easy to get bogged down with the shot gun approach trying to do everything possible instead of the simplest most effective thing.
7. All work and no play. It's a mistake to get cooked up in the purely hyper achievement side of planning to achieve your goals and not build in the other realistic necessary factors. You're going to need some rest, some downtime and some time to have fun. You're going to need to build in some way to not drive yourself into the ground. Your body, mind, family, and actual accomplishments will thank you for it.