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Published on August 7, 2018

The Surefire Method to Set Long Term Goals and Reach Success

The Surefire Method to Set Long Term Goals and Reach Success

Have you ever wondered what you life is going to be like in 5 or 10 years? Will you be doing the same things you are today? Will you have the same job, the same apartment, the same car? There are only three possibilities for your life in the future.

  1. It will be the same.
  2. It will be worse.
  3. It will be better.

There really is no other choice, so realizing this, which option will you choose?

If you choose #1 or #2, then you can stop reading now, there is no need to set any long term goals for your life. You are, in effect Alice at the fork in the road.

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

It really doesn’t matter which path you choose. If you don’t have a destination in mind, choosing a path is not important.

But if you choose option #3, then being able to set long term goals is the best way to ensure that you’ll get to where you want to go.

The importance of setting long term goals

Where do you want to be in five years?

Everyone has a plan for their life. We all imagine what our future will look like, what we will be doing, how we will be living and even who we will be living with.

While things rarely workout exactly as planned, it is nonetheless important to set long term goals and work toward them. Without long term goals, we are just wondering aimlessly through life.

And even if we have goals for our lives, unless we take concrete steps to realize them, we are relying on dumb luck to get us there.

The most successful people know the power of goal setting and how to break down big long term goals into a series of smaller short term goals that will keep you focused and motivated.

Reach your goals in 7 easy steps

Do you suffer from paralysis by analysis? It’s a common condition that happens when people are faced with a lot of options or a seemingly overwhelming tasks.

When faced with too many options, they become obsessed with choosing the “right” one, and never being sure what the “right” one is, they never make a decision.

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Likewise, when faced with a seemingly overwhelming task, they may never even start because they “Just don’t know where to begin”.

By following these 7 easy steps, you can set and achieve almost any long term goal no matter how big or small it is.

1. Make goals, not wishes

Who hasn’t thought about winning the lottery or inheriting a lot of money from a rich relative? While there is nothing wrong with daydreaming about these things, they are not goals.

A goal should be something that you can work towards. Not something that falls into your lap through luck.

A goal is “I want to have a business that makes one million dollars a year within five years” not ” I want to win the mega millions within five years”.

2. Be specific

Remember when you were young and a grown up would ask “What do you want to be when you grow up?”.

No one ever said I want to work in the medical field or in government or I want to help people. NO! You said I want to be a Doctor, the President, a Policeman. These were specific goals that we had as kids, and while most of us didn’t end up Astronauts or Presidents, we still pictured ourselves in these very specific roles.

When you are setting long term goals for your life and career, it’s important to be as specific as possible. Get into detail about what you want, and think about it in very concrete terms.

So instead of saying “In five years I want to be rich.” Think about what that really means to you and what it would look like. Having a more specific goal would be “In five years I want to own a Ferrari, live in an upscale neighborhood and be making enough money to take a two week vacation to Europe every year.”

Having specific goals makes measuring your progress easier. You know you reached you goal to have a Ferrari if you look in the garage and see one. It’s much harder to gauge if you are “rich” as rich is always a moving target.

3. Write down your goals

A goal that’s not written down is just a wish. Please do not neglect this step!

As humans, we are prone to daydreaming and wishful thinking. We need to take concrete steps to realize our goals.

So when you set long term goals, you need to write them down. This single act will take your goal out of the realm of the mind and into the physical (real) world.

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Just by taking this step, your odds of achieving your goal go up tremendously.

4. Breakdown your long term goal into smaller goals

When setting long term goals, it’s okay to make them big, in fact, some say the bigger, the better.

The only problem is that it can seem overwhelming to say “In five years I’ll have a business that makes one million dollars per year”.

How do you get from not having a business at all to having one that makes a million dollars per year? The answer is the same way you’d eat an elephant, one bite at a time.

Once you have decided on your long term goals, you’ll then need to break them down into bite sized chunks.

So if our goal is to have a business that makes one million dollars per year five years from now, where do we start?

First you need to do some research on a businesses you can do from home in your spare time. There are a lot of options out there that don’t necessarily take a lot of time or money to get started.

Then you’ll want to get competent in the business by taking training courses and networking with other’s who are already successful in the business.

Once you have a good foundation, it’s time to get started. Launching the business will be the scariest and most rewarding day of your life. But you’re still not close to making a million dollars per year, so break it down some more.

Your first year goal maybe to earn $50,000. Your second year you’ll want to earn $150,000, third year $300,000 Fourth $600,000 and in the fifth year $1,000,000. Each of those years can be broken down into smaller goals.

So your first year in order to make $50,000 you’ll need to make $4,170 per month, that’s $1,043 per week and $149 per day. You can break it down even further to say I need three sales per day to make the $149.

At first you may have no sales, but by experimenting with various marketing strategies that you learned earlier, the sales will start coming in. Then it’s just a matter of fine tuning your marketing efforts and building on your successes.

5. Remember your long term goals

You have set your long term goals and even written them down.

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Now, don’t just put them in a drawer. We need to have a constant reminder of why we are doing this. Your long term goals should be displayed somewhere prominent (for you). You don’t need to hang them over the fireplace, but they should be placed where you can see them everyday.

Some popular places are on your bathroom mirror or taped to your computer. Really anywhere you will see them everyday.

Setting long term goals and reaching them is not an easy process. If it was, everyone would be making a million dollars per year.

Things go wrong, issues and problems arise that no one can see. It’s during these times that remembering your long term goals is important.

6. Reevaluate and adjust

You should always be looking for ways to improve what you are doing, but it’s especially important in this new internet age.

We don’t have to look very far to see how quickly things can change. You must be willing to change coarse or be left behind. Toys ‘R’ Us closing their stores in the U.S. is an example of this.[1]

So getting back to your growing business, the marketing that got you to $600,000 per year might not be the marketing that gets you to your long term goal of one million dollars per year.

Always keep your goal in mind but always be willing to adjust course to get to it.

7. Don’t give up

Realize and understand that the road to success is never straight. You will inevitably come up against obstacles and barriers to your goals. This is not the time to quit.

In fact, many times coping with the obstacle or finding a way around the barrier has lead to more success than anticipated. Always remember, the only sure way to fail is to quit.

Bonus Step, practice daily aphorisms

I know it sounds cheesy, but having a daily aphorism is a great way to stay motivated and focused. It’s a good practice whether you own a business or just want to get ahead in your job.

Come up with five to ten concise statements that you find inspiring and write them down.

When you wake up in the morning choose one aphorism for that day. Put it on your bathroom mirror next to your long term goal. Repeat the aphorism and the goal several times out loud.

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Carry the the aphorism with you for the rest of the day. You’ll want to keep it in a place that you will run across it several times, (wallet or pocket).

Then every time you come across it, take it out and read it. It only takes a second to do, and that reinforcement is priceless. Not sure what to write down? Here are some common aphorisms:

  • “Those at the top of the mountain didn’t fall there.”
  • “If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.”
  • “If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission.”
  • “Don’t give up. Life rewards those who work hard at it.”
  • “I will strive to make today better than yesterday”
  • “Successful entrepreneurs are givers and not takers of positive energy.”
  • “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
  • “What’s the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable.”
  • “Every time they stay out late; every time they sleep in; every time they miss a workout; every time they don’t give 100% – They make it that much easier for me to beat them”.

Obviously, these are just suggestion, you can use whatever inspires or motivates you to improve your life.

Reaching success with long term goals

Very few of us can count on winning the lottery or inheriting a fortune for a rich relative. But luckily, most of us don’t need to.

With so many options in the world today, the only thing holding most people back from success is themselves.

Fear of failure is the number one reason most people will never become as successful as they could be. Change is a scary thing, and let’s face it, no one wants to lose, it’s not easy for people to get out of their comfort zone. Most people won’t unless they have to or they perceive that the reward is worth the risk.

By setting long term goals and then breaking them down into smaller goals that are easily achievable, you have created your own personalized road map to success.

And while that long term goal of making a million dollars a year seems insurmountable, the short term goal of making $149 is easily doable.

Now, for some people, the thought of taking any risk will always be an insurmountable obstacle, for others, having a destination clearly defined and a series of steps they can take to get there all that they need to overcome the fear and find success.

While the road to achieving your goals is never a straight line, and there will always be detours and bumps in the road. Embrace these things, they are all part of the journey and they really do make the fruits of your labor sweeter.

Remember, Alice was just wandering through the forest, you want a destination.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

David Carpenter

Lifelong entrepreneur and business owner.

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives.

Learn from these highly successful people’s personal development skills, turn these skills into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter

2. Keep certain days clear

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

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7. Don’t try to do too much

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew.

Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else.

This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then.

Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

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Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

If you find yourself easily distracted and can’t focus, this method will help you overcome distractions.

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14. Never stop

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it.

Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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