The best performers

Self-regulation begins with setting goals - not big, life-directing goals, but more immediate goals for what you're going to be doing today. In the research, the poorest performers don't set goals at all; they just slog through their work. Mediocre performers set goals that are general and are often focused on simply achieving a good outcome - win the order; get the new project proposal done. The best performers set goals that are not about the outcome but rather about the process of reaching the outcome.

For example, instead of just winning the order, their goal might be to focus especially hard on discerning the customer's unstated needs. You can see how this is strongly analogous to the first step of deliberate practice. The best performers are focused on how they could get better at some specific element of the work, just as a pianist may focus on improving a particular passage.

The best performers make the most specific, technique-oriented plans. They're thinking exactly, not vaguely, of how to get where they're going.

Geoff Colvin, Talent is Overrated