I would not classify myself as a long term goal setter. They are just to hard to accomplish with everyday life. You set yourself up to get a big punch in the gut most of the time and then you feel guilty about something that was never attainable from the start. Aim low, finish high-my motto. I mean, I am 45-not that I am saying that is old, but you never know when the legs will start to head south and you will be forced to make some adjustments in your riding style. So long term goals aint for me brotha. I do have a few cycling goals that I really do try to accomplish each year, though; not many but enough to keep from disappointment.
The first one is to try and stick to a training plan. That has really only happened once, and that would be this year so far. I have been putting in a lot of endurance miles and really concentrating on keeping my heart rate in the proper zones; so far, so good.
The second goal is to finish in the top 5 in every race. Now, funny thing is as I have gotten older, this has become "easier." Now I am not saying that it is easier physically so much as it is mentally, but racing against people half your age requires some adjustments to the way I have thought and acted about racing in general. My main goal during each race is not necessarily to beat a certain individual, but to better my times from the previous year(s) races. If I can accomplish that, I know I will finish well. Now, I have been getting faster after I turned 40 and taking some good chunks of time from year to year; how long this will last... who knows.
The last goal and most important for me is not letting my nerves get the best of me. I will try to say this without sounding arrogant, but I consider myself a pretty fast rider. I am certainly not the fastest, but I can hang with some pretty fast people. Anyway, "how am I gonna do" or "I am super nervous about who I am racing against," never fails to enter my daily thought patterns at least a few days before a race. I have yet to conquer this goal. I may have to conjure up some secret formulated drink that takes away butterfly's and replaces them with some teen angst mixed with a little Henry Rollins and a dash of zippity do da just for good luck.
So, remember to aim low and you will always finish better than you thought.