How to Choose Long- and Short-Term Goals for Your Future
The best way to reach your goals is to set them. Having big dreams is only the first step to seeing them realized. The key to achieving anything great is a balance of practical short-term and long-term goals. Your short-term goals should be reachable and rewarding, while your long-term goals should shape the overall direction of every decision you make.
If you dream of one day riding a horse, you'll need to start with plans to visit a stable. If you dream of becoming an engineer, you'll want to start by reading a few manuals. But setting a weekly goal for a full life? That's a little more complicated. We'll explore how to choose both long-term and short-term goals as a way to take charge of your future.
What Are Your Goals?
The best place to start is to define your goals. Everyone has a few. Most adults have between three and twenty active short-, medium-, and long-term goals for themselves. So it's no surprise when it's hard to completely fulfill even one. The best way to achieve your goals is to define and plan for them. So write a list.
Start a list of all your goals. Don't bother sorting them by term-length yet. Here are a few common goals that might be included on your list:
Earning a promotion
Preparing for a move
Learning a skill
Preparing for a move
Owning a house
Paying off a debt
Trying new foods
Seeing a specific movie or TV show from beginning to end
Spending more time with someone
Spending less time worrying
Sticking to a medicine schedule
Being a calmer, nicer person
Being a bolder, more actualized person
Learning a language
There are so many things we want to do, and the term-length varies pretty wildly. Some things, you could do this hour if you just decided to and ticked it off your checklist. Some things will take years to plan and complete - so the sooner you start, the better. This full list can help you build a rich and interesting life where the daily routine is mixed in with constant self-improvement and new experiences.
Sort Your Goals by Length
Now sort your goals based on how important they are and how quickly they could be completed. Trying a new food or seeing a movie, you could set aside a weekend afternoon for. Learning a language might take practice every night for months or years, but will be worth the reward. Consider which goals will take one day, a few weeks, years of daily dedication, or years of weekend attention to achieve.
You can build this as a chart or arrange them as a set of lists, whichever works best for you.
The Easy Short-Term Goals
First, sort out all the easy short-term goals. Make a list of everything you could knock out in a few days - or spread out over a few enjoyable weekends. These are things you'd do for fun or personal benefit, but just hadn't organized your schedule to include. You can swing by the shoe hospital to get your favorite heel repaired any time, and now you will. You can repaint the back shed with an Amazon order and a few hours of dedicated work, and now you will.
This is also a good time to pick out a few easy long-term progress goals. Take a moment to send a Facebook message to that old friend or drop a handful of spinach into your next smoothie to see if it's any good. These little goals only take a minute, and you get points for every goal moved forward.
The Important Long-Term Goals
Then pick out your most important long-term goals. You can start working on all of them, but make specific plans for those goals you're really counting on yourself to reach. Saving up for a house or paying off a debt? Financial goals make great long-term to short-term goal conversions because a few good savings habits are beneficial to almost any financial goal.
Want to see your child in college? Start that savings account, but also start having STEM conversations with them and providing puzzle toys early. Need to move after this lease is up? It's never too early to start planning ahead and boxing less-used items. Need to get your body to a healthier state? Consider those lifestyle short-term goals that can help you get there one step at a time.
The Progress Bar Short-Term Goals
Now turn those long-term goals into a step-by-step guide. What short-term goals can you set to get yourself one step closer to your long-term goals?
Every long-term goal is made up of short-term goals that you can take on one day, one weekend, and one project at a time. Getting ready for a move is one box packed and one detail researched every day until your house is empty and you're in your new place. Even complex goals like rebuilding a relationship happen one phone call and kind word at a time.
Think of these short-term goals as part of a progress-bar. Every time you complete a workout or a language lesson, you're one step closer to reaching that long-term goal.
Overcoming the Struggle to Reach Your Goals
You may find that setting great goals is only the beginning of your effort to meeting them. Many people can build an awesome personal planner - but actually sticking to those plans takes a lot of willpower. You need the support of good friends, helpful family members, or a personal coach to help push through the inertia that often stops us from reaching goals.
Online coaching can provide the external encouragement and practical advice you need to turn your goals into actions, and those actions into goal attainment. We can do more together than alone. You can rely on a coach to give you good advice from an external perspective, and to give you the energy you need to push through when your internal strength starts to flag.
Coaching to Set Goals
A personal coach can not only provide encouragement, they can also help you set practical goals for both your short-term and long-term future plans. A coach can help you sort out your priorities to determine what really matters and what will make you happy. Most of all, a coach can help you balance your goals so you're working on the right mix of fun, easy goals (like listening to more good music) and challenging goals (like earning a professional certification). This way, you can keep knocking out points without over-stressing yourself by focusing only on the tough goals on your list.
Finding Your Coach, Reaching Your Goals
How do you choose your long- and short-term goals for your future? Choose what you can do and what you can plan for one step at a time. Once you have some practice reaching practical goals, you can start tackling the steps for goals whose steps are not immediately clear. Eventually, you will be knocking out short-term goals and stepping closer to your long-term goals every single day.
By working with a coach, you can boost your own ability to make and reach your goals. A coach provides motivational support, practical advice, and help building a daily schedule that really achieves both the short-term and long-term goals you've defined.
If you need support with your goals, Aspyn Coaching is here to lend a hand. We provide on-demand video coaching sessions specifically designed for mental wellness.
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