Setting goals is an integral part of participating in sports. Even when we think we aren't setting goals we really are and just don't realize it. And, of course, there are many different types of goals which can be short-term, long-term and somewhere in between.
What Should My Goals Be?
One of the biggest problems in goal setting is knowing what type of goal to set. For those just starting out in a particular sport, just participating or being able to finish an organized event is a reasonable goal. As you progress in a sport, the goals will most likely become more substantial.
A good question worth asking is, how do I figure out what my goals should be? I think it is important to set goals that are dependent on how you prepare and perform. By that, I mean, you should set goals where you have the overwhelming majority of control over the outcome.
To expand on that thought a bit more it is important to avoid setting goals such as wanting to beat a specific rider to the top of a specific climb on the weekly group ride. Sure, that may be something you want to accomplish, but the problem with such a goal is that it is heavily dependent on the performance of the other selected rider.
Maybe you have been spending all spring trying to beat this rider and when you finally do, you find out that his wife just had a baby and not only has he been off his bike for the past several weeks, but he got just three hours of sleep the night before. Obviously, this raises the question, did you beat your nemesis because you improved your riding and met your goal, or was the outcome most likely due to the other rider's performance slipping? Regardless, you might consider the goal met and claim victory, but it is a hollow win any way you look at it.