Frances Wilson has some wise words on our fixation with goal-oriented learning and how it can become unrealistic:
There’s nothing wrong in having goals – they can provide a useful focus – but they can also create disappointment and unhappiness, especially if one does not always fulfil one’s goal. In addition, goals can be curiously anti-motivational. If all your endeavour is focussed on a single goal, what else is there to work for when that goal has been reached? This approach can create a “yo-yo effect” where you might go back and forth from working on a goal to not working on one, which makes it difficult to build upon your progress long-term.
If you are continually working towards a goal you are in effect saying “I am not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach the goal”. The problem with this attitude is that we tend to postpone happiness and fulfilment until we reach the goal. Thus, it puts a huge burden on us to succeed, which can create unnecessary stress. Instead, we should be kind to ourselves and enjoy the daily process: keep to a realistic daily practise schedule rather than stressing about that big, potentially life-changing goal.Far better than result-oriented goals (which are often at the mercy of gatekeepers) is to focus on goals that we can achieve as a result of our own hard work and perseverance. In other words, goals that are oriented towards process, knowledge, and small initial gains that work towards a larger final picture.
Read Frances' The Systematic Pianist to get a better idea of the types of systems that build towards realistic goal-setting.