For some people, trying to set long-term goals is so overwhelming that they feel incapable of even moving forward at all. They get stuck in fear and do nothing.
This is because they’re short-term thinkers. If you’re a short-term thinker who wants to be better at setting long-term goals, there are some definite steps you can take to be more effective.
Understand the Difference between Short-Term Goals and Long-Term Goals
A long-term goal might be something like earning a 3.5 GPA in college, or becoming a partner in a CPA firm, or losing 100 pounds. Each of these goals can be overwhelming and even seem impossible if you’re a short-term thinker. You may end up frozen and unable to make a change. But, that need not be your fate if you understand what constitutes a short-term, mid-term, and long-term goal.
Break Things Down into Bitesize Pieces
Once you know what the long-term goal is, break it down into what feels like multiple short-term goals to you. In the college example, you’ll have to make your goals by quarter or semester, then break that down into daily actions to reach those goals. For example, “I will study from 7 pm until 10 pm each weekday, and from 8 am until 1 pm on weekends.” Or, “I’ll walk 10,000 steps per day and eat 1500 calories per day.”
Make All Your Goals Specific
The more specific your goals are, the easier they are to carry out. Walking 10,000 steps is very specific, as is studying during specific times of the day. You can break down your goals in a way that works for you, but don’t just write “study” or “walk” – write down exactly what you’re going to do, when you’re going to do it, and how you’re going to do it.
Ensure That You Can Measure Success
When you write down a goal, you want to be sure that you can measure it. That’s why you don’t say you’re going to walk each day to lose weight, you say, “I will walk 10,000 steps a day by walking 5,000 steps each morning, 2,500 steps each day at lunch, and 2,500 steps each day after dinner.” In that way, it’s easier to tell that you did what needed to be done to reach the larger goal.
Create Actionable Steps
Every goal also needs an action step to make it happen. That means that you need to do something. If your goal is to think positively for five minutes each morning, it may seem as if you’re doing nothing. But, it is an actionable step to spend five minutes thinking positively during each day. It’ll work even better if you set a specific time for doing it.
Plan for Obstacles
It can be hard to stick to goals sometimes, because things get in the way. But, if you plan for things that might happen and account for the time, you can still reach your daily goals. For example, it works best to use your calendar to write down everything you’re going to do on any given day even if it has nothing to do with the goal you’re working toward. This can help you avoid magical thinking issues.
For example, if you have young children at home, and you work from home alone without help, you’re not likely going to be able to handle coaching phone calls when your children are awake. Therefore, plan around the kids’ lives instead of the other way around.
Write It All Down on a Schedule
Use your calendar to write everything down. Write down all activities you are going to do, not just the goal you’re working toward. That way you can fit what you need to do into your schedule in a realistic way. If you don’t write it all down, it’s likely it won’t get done at all and you’ll end up back in overwhelm.
Start Taking Action
Once you’ve broken down your goals and written down everything you need to do, start taking action. After all, action is what is going to help you experience the type of success you need to experience each day, working on small goals that all add up to big results.
Evaluate, Review and Adjust
Remember, just because something doesn’t go just right on any given day doesn’t mean that you’re a failure. It just means that you may need to re-evaluate what you’re doing and go in a new direction. Take time out each day to look at your list of what you need to do tomorrow before you end your day. That way you’ll get up starting on the right foot.
When you work through this process, even long-term goals can be mostly looked at through a short-term lens. Once you set everything up, you can focus on the smaller picture each day instead of overwhelming yourself with the larger, long-term goal.