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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Set Long Term Goals and Achieve Success

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How to Set Long Term Goals and Achieve Success

Have you ever wondered what your life is going to be like in 5 or 10 years? Will you be doing the same things you are today? Have you taken the time to envision the future through long-term goals?

When it comes to the future, there are really only three possibilities. It will either be the same, worse, or better than the present. If you want it to be better, then being able to set long-term goals is the best way to ensure that you’ll get to where you want to go.

What Are Long-Term Goals?

A long-term goal is what you are planning to achieve in the long-run or in the future.

Where do you want to be in five years[1]?

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 work out exactly as planned, it is nonetheless important to set long term goals and work toward them. Without long-term goals, we are just wandering aimlessly through life.

The most successful people know the power of goal setting and how to break down larger goals that may take years to achieve into a series of smaller, short-term goals that will keep you focused and motivated.

Once you understand what long-term goals are, it can be helpful to see some examples.

Long-Term Goals Examples

Long-term goals can be applied to just about any area of your life, including your career, relationships, finances, or health. Here is an example of the types of goals you can set.

  • Career: I will receive a promotion and a raise within the next three years.
  • Relationships: I will improve my communication skills so that I can be more caring toward my spouse.
  • Finances: I will save up enough money for a down payment on a house within the next five years.
  • Personal life: I will lower my cholesterol to healthy levels within the next year.

Now that you have an idea of the kinds of goals you can set, its time to learn how to set and reach your own goals.

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How to Set (and Reach) Your Long-Term Goals

Do you suffer from paralysis by analysis? It’s a common condition that happens when people are faced with a lot of options. When faced with too many options, they become obsessed with choosing the “right” one and never make a decision.

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

Before we get started with some tips to help you, you can check out this video on setting goals for success:

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 during a period of time, not something that falls into your lap through luck.

For example, a good long-term career 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. You said I want to be a doctor, the President, or a policeman. These were specific goals that we had as kids, and while most of us didn’t end up as 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.

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

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[2].

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

4. Break Down Your Long-Term Goal Into Smaller Goals

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 elephantone bite at a time.

Once you have decided on your long-term goals, you’ll then need to break them down into a series of short-term goals.

In our business example, you’ll first need to do some research on a business you can start 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 others who are already successful in the business.

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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 may be to earn $50,000. Your second year, you’ll want to earn $150,000. From there, you’ll basically need it to double each year in order to reach one million dollars in five years. 

Each of those years can be broken down into smaller goals until you realize you need to make $149 per day. You can break it down even further to say you 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.

You can learn more about taking action on your goals in Lifehack’s free guide: The Dreamers’ Guide for Taking Action and Making Goals Happen. This guide will help you go from dreaming to planning in no time.

5. Remember Your Long-Term Goals

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

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 every day.

Things go wrong, and 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 course or be left behind.

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Setting long term goals

    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, coping with the obstacle or finding a way around the barrier leads to more success than anticipated. Always remember, the only sure way to fail is to quit.

    You can learn more on how to overcome challenges you may face in this article.

    Final Thoughts

    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 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.

    It’s time to ask: What are your long-term goals?

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    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, as they are all part of the journey.

    More Tips on Setting and Achieving Goals

    Featured photo credit: Bench Accounting via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    David Carpenter

    Lifelong entrepreneur and business owner helping others to realize the American Dream of business ownership

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    Published on September 16, 2021

    What Are Process Goals? (With Examples)

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    What Are Process Goals? (With Examples)

    Ready. Set. Go. For years, this was my three-step mindset when it came to goals. I would reach for the moon and hope to land among the stars without feeling the pain of the fall. This approach was all or nothing, and as a result, I experienced loads of burnout and almost zero productivity. In short, my task list was filled with high-level intentions, but I hadn’t taken the time to create a map to reach the destinations. I was lost in the planning stages because I didn’t understand process goals or have any examples to follow.

    Since then, I’ve learned how to embrace the journey and break my outcome goals into smaller and more manageable process goals. This approach has improved my focus and reduced frustration because I’m now working towards a surefire strategy that will take me where I want to go––I’m creating a plan of action with achievable daily targets (a process goal).

    What Is a Process Goal?

    A process goal is not a destination, it’s the path you plan on taking to get there. For example, if you want to become better at writing, your process goal would be to post one blog article per week and learn from the feedback you receive. The destination is a monthly goal of 12 articles.

    This distinction is important because it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that these types of goals are not all or nothing. Think about it. You’ve heard it said: it’s not about working hard but working smart.

    Well, a process goal is an actionable target with what we call SMART criteria:

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    • Specific – The more detailed your goal, the better. For example, instead of “I want to be fit,” you would say, “I want to lose five pounds.” Make sure your goal is crystal clear.
    • Measurable – You need a way to measure progress and success, so it needs to be quantifiable. This is where you decide what “fit” actually means for you (more on this later).
    • Achievable – If your goal isn’t challenging, then it’s not going to be motivating. On the other hand, there must be a steeper mountain to climb if you want substantial results.
    • Realistic – “I want to run a marathon” is not practical for most people. Ensure you have the time, energy, and resources (e.g., training program) required to achieve your goal.
    • Time-Bound – Your goal needs an assigned deadline or it’s just a pipe dream. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, but what happens when the fantasy ends?

    To summarize, these are the essential components of any process goal: specific, measurable, achievable within a certain time frame, and realistic.

    What Is a Destination Goal?

    A destination goal is a point in time when you plan to be at a particular destination. For example, if your goal is to get to represent your country at the 2025 Summer Olympics, you right need to focus on smaller increments to attain that success. On your way to that goal, you need to focus on smaller destinations. First, make the national team. Then, compete in a few events and so forth.

    If you try to make it to the Olympics from the very start without any milestones along the way, it would be too daunting. On the other hand, if you focus on each milestone as a destination goal, it will all seem possible and achievable.

    Process Goal Template

    Let’s say you want to become a better cook. Here is one way of writing the process goal: “I will save $100 per week by cooking all my meals at home for 12 weeks.” This would be your destination (monthly), and the steps required to achieve this goal (weekly) would be:

    1. Spend one hour on Sunday planning my meals for the week.
    2. Shop for groceries after work on Monday and Tuesday nights.
    3. Cook all meals at home on Wednesdays through Sundays.
    4. Pack my lunch for work on Mondays and Tuesdays.
    5. Save $100 per week in cash by cooking at home.

    This process goal will help you become a better cook by teaching you to save money through planning, shopping, cooking, packing your own lunch, and trying new recipes. It also includes a weekly reward (saving $100 in cash) that will help you stay motivated.

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    Process goals encourage you to reach your ultimate goals. When you feel like you can accomplish smaller goals along the way, you gain sustainability and confidence to move forward.

    In many ways, process goals are a lot like faith. Each accomplishment brings you closer to seeing the fullness of the life that you desire––it breaks through the fog and makes things clearer.

    What Questions Helped Me Find My Process Goals?

    After several years of setting lofty goals and becoming increasingly frustrated when I wasn’t getting the results I wanted, I decided to take a closer look at my approach.

    Now, there are many ways you can do this, but here’s how I went about it. Last year, I asked myself the following questions:

    • What am I doing right now?
    • How can I get better at this?
    • Is this process goal leading me closer to my ultimate goals?

    The choices I made from the answers to these questions became my process goals. They were the driving force that kept me motivated and moving forward when I wanted to give up and throw in the towel. Since then, I’ve been able to accomplish lifelong goals that I had given up on years ago. For example, I’ve been able to obtain a publishing contract, create more digital products for my business, and enjoy the moment.

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    Before I broke down my goals into smaller ones, I was struggling to just get out of bed. The thought of my endless list kept me stagnant. Now, I look forward to each morning and taking on smaller projects to reach profitable outcomes.

    What Are Some Process Goals You Can Try?

    So, now that you understand the importance of process goals, let’s get you started with some examples that you can utilize this week:

    • Sign up for a new class.
    • Complete one portion of your project by Thursday.
    • Start walking around the block instead of running a mile.
    • Improve your writing by spending 30 minutes everyday journaling.
    • Practice your interview skills.
    • Read at least one book from the library this week.
    • Do ten push-ups each day before you leave for work.

    You get the idea. These process goals don’t have to be complicated. If anything, you want to break down your plans to the point of them feeling easy or at least doable without needing a week’s vacation. By breaking your goals down into smaller pieces, you can accomplish a lot more in a shorter period. You’ll also feel more confident that you’re able to accomplish something within the moment.

    It isn’t easy to continue towards your goal if achievement feels too far away. You need to celebrate the small things and embrace the process.

    What Do You Need for Process Goals?

    Think about how much time and money you’ve spent on new clothes, books, technology, etc. Many of us want to keep up with the latest trends and purchase the best gadgets from Apple or Microsoft. But all of these extra investments come at a steep price.

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    To find your process goals, you may have to face some difficult emotions or situations bravely and confront them head-on. You might need to forgo the new outfit or the latest Mac book to meet your overall objectives.[1] Remember, process goals not only protect you from feeling overwhelmed, but they also keep you from being distracted.

    Final Thoughts

    You may feel overwhelmed at first when trying to set a process goal. Sometimes, just thinking about change triggers stress hormones, which only leads to more worries and anxious feelings. However, if you keep yourself focused and take small steps in the right direction, you’ll soon realize that goals don’t have to be complicated.

    You can achieve your process goals one day at a time, and you can start today by breaking down your larger goal into smaller steps. It doesn’t matter if the process takes a week or six months, what matters most is that you’re moving forward and doing something to make yourself better.

    Now, go on out there and achieve one of your process goals!

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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    Reference

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