Short-term goals versus long-term goals
There are many different types of goals, but two of the most distinctive categories are short-term goals versus long-term goals. Short-term goals can last several weeks or months, while long-term goals can span from a few months to several years.
The possibilities for both types of goals are endless. Common short-term goals include losing five pounds, developing a self-care routine, and reading a few books a month. Long-term goals include starting your own business, writing a novel, and losing 30 pounds.
Before you get started on your goal, ask yourself a few questions, especially whether it’s realistic or not. The best way to do this is to try breaking the goal into smaller pieces to see if it’s achievable. If you can find a healthy way to lose 30 pounds in six months, that’s realistic. If you can’t find a way to launch a Fortune 500 company in a few months, that’s probably an unrealistic goal. You may need to adjust your timeline or your goal to make it realistic.
You also need to be very clear and specific about what your goal is. The more vague (I want a promotion), the less likely you are to get it. Make your goal as specific as possible (I want a 10% raise by July).
Another very important question to ask yourself is what is yours Why? Why do you want to achieve this specific goal? Which Why (your motivation) is what will help you discern if you really want to devote time and effort to this goal, and it will help you stay motivated if you feel tired or discouraged. If your Why is not strong or deep enough, you are less likely to achieve your goal.
How to break down your long-term goal
The easiest way to achieve long-term goals is to break them down into smaller goals. For example, if you want to lose a significant amount of weight, break it up into smaller chunks (like losing five in the first month, or even one pound a week) and see how they add up. This works because long-term goals are daunting, and looking at the amount of work you have to do is often enough to make you want to give up before you even start trying. Breaking down goals not only makes them more palatable, but you only need to focus on the first part.
However, for this to work, you need to figure out all the details of what you need to do in each stage so that you only have to focus on your current stage. Before you start, take the time to write down your timeline, what you want to achieve in each part, and what you need to do to succeed.
Maintain habits to reach your long-term goal
Whether your long-term goal is to lose weight, write a novel, or move across the country, you’ll need to change some habits to achieve this goal. If you want to lose weight you need to change your diet and exercise routine while if you want to move across the country you need to change your financial habits but the most important thing is consistency.
Tracking your progress helps you know exactly where you stand against your goal and builds confidence and excitement when you see what you’ve already accomplished. The easiest way to track your progress is to log it. Track your timeline of all short-term goals within your big goal and keep a journal about your progress. Write down what worked and what didn’t work. This will not only help you stick to these habits, but will also help you improve them over time.
This may sound counterintuitive, but you should expect to go off the rails at some point. Emergencies and unexpected events happen, so before you start, have a plan for when you inevitably get off track. Tap back into your Whyadjust your schedule/timeline and get back to work.
What about overlapping goals?
Have you ever finished a difficult goal, a big project, or even a very long book, and then felt lethargic and adrift? One way to avoid that emotional stillness and lack of energy is to have overlapping goals. This means that as you approach the finish line with one goal, you’re already starting to work on your next goal. Use the excitement of achieving your first goal to move you forward with goal number two. This cycle of a great finish urging you to complete something else will put you on a positive upward trajectory.
Setting goals is important to achieve anything in life. Whether it’s personal, professional, short-term or long-term, it’s important to learn how to break down your goals and maintain the habits that will help you achieve them.
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