Once you've got a sense of the theory and issues of goal structure, you can start using them. That doesn't mean you pick a goal and hit the ground running. Instead, you want to incorporate a more systematic approach, realizing that a goal is more than a word. Build something that will work.
Establish the Full Goal
Your first step is to get a sense of the goal's terrain. You know what you want to achieve, but you need to understand exactly what the goal entails. Asking some questions is a good way to start exploring a goal. Here are some you might start with:
What steps must happen before achieving the goal?
What must happen for each of the above steps to occur?
Do you face any constraints on how you pursue the goal?
How do all the parts and their components interrelate?
Do any depend on the completion of others, even if they're not apparently directly related?
Why focus on this specific goal?
Must you work with other teams to achieve the goal?
How will your team's strengths and weaknesses affect pursuit of the goal?
Are there any time constraints?
Will you face any conflicts with other goals?
This list isn't definitive — no preformed set of questions could be. What it should do is give you some ideas of what you might ask when trying to get a solid grasp of a goal and what it would take for your team to achieve it. As leader, you are responsible for ensuring that your team achieves the goal. The more thought you invest at the outset, the greater the chance that you'll meet with success.
Establish All Steps
When you have a sense of what the goal entails, list every single step along the journey. Don't leave out a thing. Write them down on a piece of paper, on a time management schedule, or even in project management software — so you can see everything the goal ultimately requires. Also leave room for other information that you'll add shortly.
Set Time Limits
It is possible to have an open-ended goal. We are all governed by the combination of time's relentless journey and the never-ending demands of others. Unless pushed, we all will tend to pay attention to what calls most loudly. That almost never includes a task that isn't due.
It may seem artificial, but you always need to attach deadlines to your tasks. Start with the overall goal and assign a completion date. Next, associate each of the steps along the way with an estimate of the time you'll need to complete it. That lets you work backward from the goal due date to figure out when every stage must begin and end. This should go into a calendar.
Determine Necessary Resources
Every part of your goal will need resources: people, time, and money. You need to know what each step will require, including who on your team is responsible for any given activity, the people the team will work with, and whether you need to arrange for specialty items or help.
Resources aren't just what your team possesses. You might need things from others — possibly money or physical goods. Check with them far in advance, because you don't know what other requests they might receive or whether they'll have their own needs for those resources.
The big mistake in determining resources is to forget routine things whose availability you take for granted. If you need resources that you share with others, reserve them in advance so you don't have to scramble at the last minute. Remember to check that you don't have resource conflicts with other goals, or even with the personal lives of your team.