Goal setting is a great way to gain control of your life. Without goals, you may feel like you’re drifting through life. However, if you set goals, you can get what you want out of life.
However, long-term goals can be difficult to set and even harder to stick to – dedication, motivation, and commitment is required to achieve long-term goals.
The goal-setting process for longer-term goals differs slightly from short-term goals, and they often require more planning. Keep reading to learn all about long-term goals and how to set them effectively.
What Is A Goal?
Most successful people will have goals to thank for their success – once they reach a goal, they set another one until they get what they want out of life.
Everybody’s goals are different. Although you can find generic goals such as ‘I want to lose weight’ or ‘ I want to get promoted’, the manner in which the goals are achieved will almost always be different.
For example, take ‘I want to lose weight’ – you may set a target weight, a deadline, and an action plan as to how you’re going to do it. This will likely be different from somebody else with a similar goal.
A goal is essentially a structured dream – it’s a way of turning a vision into reality. To do this, you need to commit yourself to achieving your goal.
Too many people focus on achieving the goal and neglect the goal-setting process – but the way you set your goals can determine how likely you are to reach them.
Typically, goals will have a time limit. Without a deadline, you may neglect your goal or forget about it – having a deadline can help to keep you on track and allow you to acknowledge and celebrate when you achieve it.
Long Term Vs Short Term Goals
The way you set goals will differ depending on whether it’s a short, medium or long term goal. Goals are considered short-term if they are set to be achieved within a few months. You may think that it’s easier to achieve short-term goals – however, this isn’t always the case.
With short-term goals, you have a shorter deadline, which can cause more pressure. It’s also worth noting that it can be hard to achieve amazing things with short-term goals unless you’re continually creating new short-term goals.
You can often combine short term goals with long term goals – short term goals can be stepping stones for a long-term goal.
For example, if your long-term goal is to pay off a mortgage, then you may set smaller goals to reach until you pay off your mortgage, such as meeting the monthly payments, paying off £20,000 of the mortgage, paying off half the mortgage, etc.
However, you can set short term goals as sole goals, independent of any further goals. An example of a single short term goal would be to work out three times a week for 6 months or to quit smoking in a small time frame.
Long-term goals typically take between five and 10 years to achieve – or even longer. Goals that don’t have a deadline or open-ended goals are generally considered long term goals – goals such as ‘becoming fit’ or ‘becoming fluent in another language’ may be difficult to stick to a deadline, but are generally considered long term goals.
How To Set Long Term Goals
There is plenty to consider when setting a long term goal – after all, it’s something that you’re going to be working on for years at a time.
First of all, you should think of any obstacles that you may experience when trying to reach your goal. Long-term goals are especially difficult to achieve as life can get in the way.
Your priorities may change and your circumstances may change. For example, you may start a family, you may experience financial difficulty, or you may just stop caring about the goal.
It’s always best to plan ahead when setting a long-term goal, and setting smaller, more short-term goals to ensure you keep on track and don’t lose motivation. Be sure to take into account any obstacles that you may experience, and adjust your goal accordingly.
When setting long-term goals, be sure to track your progress. If your goal lasts for years, then you’ll need to make note of what you’re achieving and when. Tracking your goals can give you an idea of when things are going wrong, as well as when things are going right.
If you achieve smaller goals in the process, then be sure to celebrate. This is a great way of keeping yourself motivated and ready to succeed.
Regardless of the type of goal you’re setting, you should always make sure that it’s SMART. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Firstly, narrow down your goal and make it measurable.
Goals should always have a figure in there somewhere – for example, instead of ‘I want to get a degree’, you can make it more specific by narrowing down the degree.
What subject do you want a degree in? What marks are you aiming for? Where do you want to study? A SMART goal would be along the lines of “I want to graduate the University of Liverpool with a 2:1 in Marketing by 2026.”
You should also make sure that your goal is attainable – if you know that you’re going to put in 100% effort while studying, don’t set your goal as getting a 1:1 Degree when getting a 2:1 would be much more realistic.
Goals should always be relevant – especially in the long term. Why take time setting and achieving a goal if you’re not going to benefit from it?
Finally, your goal should be time-bound. Every SMART goal should have a deadline so you know when you’ve reached it. Deadlines can also be powerful motivators – without a deadline, you could keep pushing back the goal and forget about it entirely.
Having a deadline gives you something to work towards – and if you feel like you’re not going to reach the deadline, you could always adjust it when necessary.
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Mark is a multi-award winner in business networking and relationship building. He is passionate about coaching and mentoring business owners and professionals through 1-1 & group coaching, team performance workshops and group mastermind sessions.