Long-term goals are great to have. However, it can be difficult to get these great, big lengthy goals done — unless you divide them into smaller tasks.
Think of these larger goals as something that will give you a direction. Just moving in the right direction is not enough to accomplish your large goals. You need to accomplish many smaller tasks along the way in order to reach your long-term goals.
Set Realistic Long-Term Goals.
Have you ever set a long-term goal that overwhelms you? It is easy to say you want to get healthy or save effectively for retirement, but it is very hard to follow through on such open-ended goals without a plan.
Unfortunately, just saying you are going to accomplish something doesn’t necessarily make it happen. You need to be very clear about your goals — or it is likely you will never fully complete your goals.
Goals for retirement.
For example, if your goal is to save effectively for retirement then you cannot just leave it at that. A better way to approach that goal is to develop a time frame to complete your goal. Setting an ideal retirement age is a personal choice but think about the things you would like to enjoy in your retirement. No matter what time frame you choose for your goals, it is important to create that time frame.
Once you have that time frame, stick to it. The time frame will allow you to mark progress towards your goal in a more meaningful way. You will easily be able to see if you are on track to hit your targets if your goal is measurable.
Being realistic with your goals.
In addition to creating a time frame for your long-term goals, you need to be realistic. Do not set a goal that is impossible to achieve. For example, if your goal is to write a book, do not set the goal of writing a 10,000-page novel in one month. Although it may be physically possible, you need to determine what is achievable for you.
Think carefully about your goals and your abilities. Try not to set goals that are impossible to achieve. At the same time, do not limit yourself. Continue to dream big, just set up realistic goals for yourself.
Determine the Stepping Stones You Need to Reach Along the Way
Rome was not built in a day, and neither will your goals. As you work towards your goals, remember that anything worth building will take time. It is very likely that you will not be able to accomplish your long-term goals within a day, a week, or even a month. Great things take time to build. However, that does not mean you should not make any progress towards your goals.
Logical points of progress.
Once you have created realistic long-term goals, take a closer look. It is likely that each goal will have logical points of progress along the way. You should identify those points of progress and create a timeline based on those points.
Choosing your path.
It can be difficult to work towards one larger goal without any progress checkpoints along the way. By taking the time to create stepping stones to your goal, you will make your long-term goal more attainable. At each step along the way to your end goal, assess your current progress. It is likely that you will need to adjust your methods along the way. If you have already created natural checkpoints to mark your progress, it will be easier to determine what (if anything) needs to change in order to reach your goal.
Long-term goal marathon.
For example, if your long-term goal was to run a marathon then you would not expect to reach your long-term goal in a matter of weeks. It is likely that you would slowly build your endurance and speed over time. Throughout your training program, you would typically have check-in points to mark your progress. You might check in when you are able to run 10 miles and assess how well you are doing. The check-in point will allow you to note your progress and determine if you are ready to work towards the next stepping stone.
Break Down These Stepping Stones of Long-Term Goals into Smaller Tasks
Once you have broken your realistic long-term goals into stepping stone, you should divide each stepping stone into smaller tasks. Think about all of the little things that need to happen in order to hit that next stepping stone.
Listing smaller steps.
For example, if your long-term goal is to go to college, a stepping stone may be applying to several schools. You may create a list of smaller tasks that includes determining your top schools. Then, reach out to references, boosting your resume through volunteer work, and finally filling out applications. All of these smaller tasks will help you reach the first stepping stone to your long-term goal.
Smaller goals are important.
Smaller tasks may seem unimportant, but they are how you will eventually reach your long-term goals. It will take hard work and dedication over many months (or years) to eventually hit your long-term goals.
Unlike a long-term goal like moving to a different city, smaller tasks are things that you can schedule into your calendar. By efficiently working your way through the smaller tasks, you will reach your long-term goals. Just put your smaller tasks in your schedule and get started. You can use the momentum of accomplishing smaller tasks to build towards your long-term goals.
Work Towards Your Goals Every Day
Accomplishing your goals will not happen overnight. It will require hard work, planning, and sheer mental strength to reach your long-term goals. Create goals that are worthwhile because otherwise, you will be unwilling to put in the hard work.
Work on your smaller steps each day for success.
Try to work towards your goals every single day. Even if you only accomplish one small task on your list, it is better than nothing. Each minor contribution you make towards your goals will add up over time. If you never put in any effort, then you can not expect to accomplish your goals.
Tom Hanks in “A League of Thier Own” said it best, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it.” Keep fighting for your goals, even if they seem difficult to attain. Just create a plan and keep working.
Expect the Unexpected
Life is unpredictable. It is simply just not possible to predict everything that will happen between now and when you will reach your goals. It is likely that both good and bad things will happen along the way.
You can overcome setbacks.
Try to overcome the setback with a positive attitude that moves you forward. Take all of the opportunities that come your way. Both will happen over the course of your journey, try to take both in stride.
Finally, be flexible with your plan. It is good to have your goals broken down into more achievable sections but remember that you always have the option to change your plan. If you need to adjust a stepping stone or add extra tasks, that’s okay! Just remember to keep your focus on your long-term goals.