"If you go to work on your goals, your goals will go to work on you. If you go to work on your plan, your plan will go to work on you. Whatever good things we build, end up building us." - Jim Rohn
Goals and plans are funny things. We tend to think of them as third party objects which we create and execute on. There may be physical executions and the outcome of the goals may be real things but the goals and plans remain (in our mind) something we have thought our or written out on paper, brought to life ex nihilo of our minds.
The reality is that goals and plans are in fact imbued with a certain amount of life. Perhaps not life as we know it, but life.
We as people are not unchanging items in a universe of change but are in fact equally as malleable as any other living thing. We may believe that we are not - we are "pessimists" or "optimists" or "really not good at anything" - but as we move through time we realize that our opinions of ourselves, much like photos, are merely a snapshot in time. It is the whole of the life that must be considered.
And this is where those goals and plans come in.
By working on the plans and goals, what we find - maybe only after the fact - is that we are molded by that for which we are working for. For example, I may start out wanting to do Highland Athletics. What I may find is not only do I get better at Highland Athletics but that I also learn to make connections with others in an environment very different from the one I typically work in; in other words I develop social skills.
Or take Iaido. I learn to use the bokuto and the shinken; what I learn by learning is the hard art of practicing and the concept of continual improvement. These concepts begin to impact other areas of my life as well: I do not just throw at Highland Games to throw, I throw to make a new personal best that may be measured only in inches; my cheese making becomes not the pursuit of one perfect cheese but the continual improvement of my cheese making art.
This concept is a subtle one and certainly not one I personally appreciated (or even knew about) growing up but I believe was (and is) evident in the minds of my teachers and the meaningful adults in my life. They knew, as they know now, the outcome of such goals and plans; I believe they understood then (as I only understand now) that one of their tasks is imbue this into the lives of their students, even if unconsciously.
I cannot promise that every goal or every plan will change one dramatically; certainly within my own life there are plenty of accomplishments which seem not to have scratched the surface of my personality. But I can only believe that like those that have consciously impacted my behavior these also in time will give rise to results that will make me say "I am glad I decided to do that. Look at what it did in my life."