As an exercise (set by my current martial-arts school), I've been trying to set out my major goals and the steps I'll take to get there. I'm actually a setter-out of written goals from way back, and I'm always shocked by the time the end of each year arrives at how my life has veered from what I thought at the beginning was its path. Example: a few years ago I was actively pursuing an actual, grown-up career in emergency management. A lot of my goals had to do with gaining the expertise and running the projects I needed for that. These days I'm pretty well convinced that emergency management is not where I want to be: instead, I'm pointing my energy toward writing and making writing-related things happen.
It's an exercise in self-doubt, more than anything: I spent all that effort on emergency management, and found out it wasn't the right thing for me. Will I find out the same thing with writing? Or -- WORSE -- have it found out for me by critics either more or less kindly? I guess I can only find out over time.
When I'm hiking, I make it a point every once in a while to turn around and look at how the trail looks from the other direction -- because it will make it easier to backtrack in case I get lost, frankly. But it's also useful for seeing how far I've come. When I look back in a month, or in a year, what will the trail behind me look like? How far will I have come, and in what direction?