Setting goals is easy, but actually achieving those goals is a whole different story. How many times have you told yourself you were going to stop snacking on chocolate all the time, or finish your work the night before it’s due, or quit biting your nails? You can set a goal, you can imagine yourself achieving that goal in the future, but the steps to actually reaching achievement seem long and complicated.
The trick is understanding the relationship between short and long term goals. Let’s say you wanted to stop snacking on chocolate all the time. This would be considered a long term goal. While you could consider it a short term goal and just force yourself to stop buying and snacking on chocolate, you could also slowly wean yourself off of it. By setting smaller, short term goals that help lead you towards your long term goal, you can feel as though you are slowly moving further and further towards achievement instead of just running around in circles.
Do you already know what your long term goals are, but aren’t sure of where to start? Take our Goal Setting 101 class and you’ll be on your way to success in no time!
Setting Long Term Goals
What is it that you want out of life? I know that’s an extremely broad question, but it’s something that’s important to think about. Where do you see yourself in five years? Are you married, do you have your dream job, are you living across the world? What exactly is your dream job? Where do you want to end up living? Make a list of long term goals you want to achieve. I’m speaking 5,10,20 years in the future. Having trouble coming up with long term goals? Consider these aspects of your life:
- Career: Do you want to teach children Chemistry, become a successful business man or travel the world while picking up odd jobs? Whether you’re aiming to climb the ladder within your company or you don’t want to be tied down to one specific job, it’s important to know where you see yourself professionally.
- Financial: Your career goals likely directly relate to your financial goals. Do you want to be a multi-millionaire by the age of 50? Or will you be content working for a lower wage, concentrating more on aspects of life that don’t relate to money?
- Family: Do you see yourself having children in the future? If so, how many? What about a husband/wife? With what morals and beliefs will you raise them?
- Education: You’ll need to determine whether or not you’ll need to attend college in order to achieve your financial and career goals. Maybe you don’t want to attend college, but you want to take online classes on a particular subject that interests you. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of higher education based on your own particular goals.
- Physique: Have you always wished that you could run 5 miles without falling over in exhaustion? Maybe you simply want to get into a daily exercise routine so that your body remains fit and young, or you want to go on a diet to lose 20 pounds.
- Serving others: Is there something that you feel so strongly about that you would dedicate your life to it? Will you join the Peace Corps or volunteer in a third-world country for a couple of months? Maybe you’ll make a change right in your community by helping out underprivileged children or volunteering at a soup kitchen.
- Artistic / musical: If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to knit your own sweater, learn how to play the flute or paint with watercolor, these goals shouldn’t be left off your list!
- Experiences: Your life shouldn’t all be about your career, your money and what you do to live day by day. You should take a little time to treat yourself, and experience things that make your soul sing. Maybe this is simply creating a successful garden, or maybe it’s backpacking around Iceland to watch the aurora borealis. Whatever you dream of experiencing in your life, this is a really important part of your long term goals.
Now take a look at the list you just made, and think about what steps you need to take in order to achieve those goals. Overwhelming, right? With a whole list of seemingly impossible goals set out in front of you, it can seem all too easy to just give up before you start. This is where your short term goals come into play.
Chunking it Out
Let’s pretend you are a fictional person named Amanda. As Amanda, you have big dreams; you want to become a successful chemist, backpack across Europe for at least three years, raise a family and learn how to play the violin. Yet you have no idea where to start. First, it’s important to stop thinking about the whole picture, and start thinking about all of the separate chunks. First you’ll focus on what you need to do to become a successful chemist, which requires getting a college education and studying hard to get good grades. Even getting a college degree seems overwhelming! To solve this problem, you’ll break it down even more.
- Pay attention in high school chemistry class, so that you have a good basic knowledge of the subject. Make sure you study hard and pass your exams.
- Search around to find colleges with good chemistry programs, then apply to the ones you are most interested in.
- Once you have been accepted, apply for various forms of financial aid and scholarships (if needed).
- Take introductory chemistry courses, and throughout those determine which specific field you’d like to go into.
- Once you have found your focus, talk to your professors about possible career paths and what courses you should take.
- Study hard, pass your exams, graduate, then start applying for internships and jobs.
Each separate chunk is one short term goal you need to achieve, all leading to your long term goal of becoming a successful chemist. Once you have laid out all of your short term goals that lead towards your long term goal, the path is not as daunting. The same goes for backpacking around Europe (practicing shorter hikes around where you are living, learning survival skills, saving up money) and raising a family (dating around for potential husbands, reading up on proper parenting skills, planning a budget).
You can simplify your life long goals into 5 year goals, 1 year goals, 6 month goals, 1 month goals, 1 week goals, etc. What can you do today that will help you prepare for your long term goal? This is what you want to keep in mind when making chunks. Keep making them smaller and smaller until they seem more attainable.
Even if you have chunked out all of your long term goals into smaller, achievable short term goals, you won’t get anywhere without the motivation to succeed. If you really want to achieve your long term goals, this in itself is a good start to gaining motivation. It can be hard to see yourself progressing, especially since short term goals often don’t seem like much. It’s important to keep track of all of the short term goals you are achieving, whether it’s in a journal or on your computer. If you keep a list of everything you have achieved, it is a constant reminder that you do have the power to achieve your goals and you’re already on your way to success! If you can’t seem to get the motivation to start at all, try some of these tricks:
- Give yourself a time frame. This is for all of you procrastinators out there! If your goal is to learn how to garden through books, don’t keep pushing off that library visit. Change your goal to “read 5 books about gardening every month until I feel as though I have gained enough knowledge to start my own, starting this month”. This way, you have set a monthly quota and deadline for yourself, even though the official deadline is vague.
- Make sure all of your goals are positive. If you tell yourself “I don’t want to be stuck in this job anymore”, you’ll just bring on more negative feelings. You should say “I am going to work on improving my skills so that I can be valuable to a better company”.
- Don’t let yourself fall into a rut! It can be easy to be impatient, wanting to achieve your goals within an unreasonable amount of time. Slow and steady may not be what you want, but most things will be worth the wait. Keep reminding yourself that seemingly mundane tasks are actually helping you reach your goal. That job that you hate? It’s allowing you to make money to save up for future plans. That exam you’re dreading studying for? Passing it will help you get your degree.
Everyone needs a little push in the right direction every once in a while. Let us help you discover and achieve your goals this year!