How to Set Long Term Goals

Do you ever feel like you should be accomplishing more, but are not sure what?  It is difficult to accomplish anything when you have no motivation.  Albert Einstein once said "If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things."  Having goals allows you to focus and work more efficiently.  There are two types of goals: short term and long term.  Short term are things you want to accomplish in the immediate future; long term goals are in the more distant future.  Short term goals are great for finishing day to day tasks, but setting long term goals gives you something to work towards.  Think of long term goals as investments; they are things like learning how to balance a checkbook or landing an internship.  It can be harder to stick to long term goals.  In order to create goals that you can follow through on: Be specific.

Your goals need to be clear.  Say you want to get healthy, avoid setting vague goals like "I am going to get in shape this year."  This makes it difficult to follow through on them.  Instead, make specific goals like "I am going to be able to run a 5k by the end of the year."  It is much easier to make a plan if you have a goal you can visualize.

Be realistic.

Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a given time.  Setting unrealistic goals is a form of self-sabotage.  Do not set a goal that you know deep down will not happen; it will be very discouraging.

Look at the big picture.

Try working backwards when setting long term goals.  Start with what you want to eventually accomplish and then work out the steps needed to get there.

Recognize the progress you make.

Do not let yourself get discouraged if you think you are not progressing fast enough.  If you ever feel disappointed at where you are in achieving your goals, look at where you started to get some perspective.  Be grateful for what you have.  Life is not a race.  Everyone began at different starting points and had to face their own unique obstacles.  As long as you are actively working towards your goals, you are winning.

Be flexible.

Life is unpredictable.  You cannot possibly know what is going to happen.  You are also going to change as the years go on: your priorities, financial situations, wants, needs, etc. will change.  It is okay to revise your goals as time goes on - that does not mean you failed.