Why are having goals important? A former coach used to say having no goals is like driving without a destination: you end up wandering. Likewise for tennis, if you step on the court without a clear objective, you'll practice mindlessly. So, in this post, I'll provide you with a few dos and don'ts of setting goals and objectives.
Don't sell yourself short. Pursue big objectives, even if you're nowhere near them in skill level. Remind yourself that if other people can do it, then you can learn as well.
Don't let the naysayers get in your head. People may try to discourage you for one reason or another. They may say it's not doable or you're not talented enough. Remember, it's all about putting in the work and incrementally developing specific skills.
Do know your weaknesses. A principle purpose of a goal is to help you shred your weak spots away. To become a better player, you need to work on the areas of your game that you're uncomfortable with. This becomes especially important if your goals are ambitious because your competition gets stronger as you get closer to higher ranking events or the last rounds of tournaments. Once you've identified your weaknesses, you can structure your training to work on improving them along with the rest of your game.
Do break down your goals into incremental objectives. The big goals are meant for direction. You then need to create a clear and structured path to achieving those goals. In the end, your skill development is the only thing that will count. Simply wishing that you can be top 5 in the rankings won't get you there. If you want to play like a great player, then you need to identify what skills these types of players have and what it will take for you to develop similar skill levels. The focus should always be on skill development.
There's a lot more to say about goals, but as a final word, I suggest you think about your objectives every day. You need to put a lot of thought into your goals if you want to give yourself a chance of getting there. I will leave you with an exercise to structure your goal setting: (a) write down your goals, (b) write down your strengths, weaknesses, and personal obstacles, (c) create a development plan to reach your goals, and (d) get to work.