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Planning for Your Future With Long-Term Goals
Employees everywhere are constantly striving for achievement and a sense of accomplishment. Long-term goals are the driving force behind those efforts. Long-term goals are a frequent point of questioning in many situations, from job interviews to family reunions, and even first dates. This is largely because they give a clear sense of who you are, where you are going, and where your values lie.
Long-term goals are your vision for the future and are your definition of what success in life looks like. So, what exactly is a long-term goal?
Defining Long-term goals
Long-term goals are the targets you are aiming to achieve further into the future, usually on a timeframe by the end of a calendar year or even several years. They require a great deal of time and planning in order to eventually reach, and often involve multiple steps and the completion of smaller, short-term goals along the way.
Any accomplishment that will take significant time, effort, and planning to achieve, can be considered a long-term goal. They can be the delayed-gratification outcome of years of focus and can be as practical as saving up for your child’s college fund, or as abstract as leaving a legacy for future generations in your line of work. Rather than short-term goals, which focus on shorter time frames and involve more manageable and immediate action steps, long-term goal planning requires you to investigate the specific habits and actions that will systematically move you towards your guiding objective.
Here are some examples of long-term goals you can set for yourself in various areas of your life.
Long-Term Health and Fitness Goals
- Complete a triathlon.
- Lower your cholesterol levels.
- Live a healthy life so you can play with your grandkids.
- Lose 20 pounds in a healthy way and keep it off for good.
Long-Term Financial Goals
- Plan and save up for your retirement.
- Purchase your own property.
- Secure and maintain a good credit score.
- Set aside money for your child’s education.
Long-Term Personal Goals
- Found a non-profit organization.
- Travel to 5 different places to learn more about their culture.
- Become known for your craft or hobby.
- Leave a lasting positive legacy.
Long-Term Learning Goals
- Obtain a new degree.
- Master a musical instrument.
- Learn to speak a foreign language like a native speaker.
- Obtain an in-depth understanding of a different culture by living abroad.
Long-Term Career Goals
- Gain experience in a leadership role.
- Improve your work performance.
- Get hired for your dream job or promoted into your dream role.
- Increase your earnings.
- Become a mentor for other employees.
Setting and Achieving Your Long-Term Goals
The Benefits of Long-Term Goals
Having, and eventually achieving, good long-term goals holds a myriad of life-long rewards. Some of the greatest advantages include:
- A Sense of Direction. Having clear and specific long-term goals keeps us headed in the right direction and focused on where we really want to end up. Staying true to your long-term aspirations helps you to avoid ending up somewhere where outside circumstances might have led you.
- A Sense of Purpose. Long-term goals give meaning to most tasks that would otherwise be considered mundane. When we wake up early in the morning, head into work, and spend 8 hours in the office, we are not doing it simply for the satisfaction of returning home and relaxing in front of the TV. We ideally commit ourselves to that routine because we have something greater to look forward to. We have something that fires us up, that has the potential to nourish our personal and professional lives.
- A Clearer Understanding of Possible Obstacles. When we have a clear direction of where we are hoping to head in life, and in our careers, we are much better equipped for the journey. With strong long-term goals at the forefront of our progress mapping, it becomes easier to anticipate and avoid possible setbacks, and to recognize the skills that are necessary for success.
- A Long-Term Positive Impact. Short-term goals provide us with the immediate gratification, and needed reassurance, that we need to keep momentum, but that positive effect is ultimately short-lived. Long-term goals are the thing we are working towards, and those smaller bouts of success are merely the steppingstones to the greater one we are hoping to achieve. Long-term goals may be more challenging to reach, but their impact is far more impactful and ultimately yield greater satisfaction.
Steps to Setting Long-Term Goals for Your Future
Whether you are setting out to accomplish something great in your personal, professional, spiritual, financial, or educational life, the steps to setting smart and resilient long-term goals remain the same.
1. Create a compelling vision.
The driving factor behind someone’s long-term goals is their vision of their ideal future. Before choosing a long-term goal, you want to work towards, ask yourself what you want your life to look like in 5- or 10-years’ time. Where do you want to be living? What kind of work do you want to be doing? How are you spending your free time? Who are you spending it with?
Envision these outcomes for yourself and reflect on which one truly inspires you. Follow your intuition and determine whether they are things you truly want to pursue or are simply things you think would want to acquire, such as a house, car, etc. For example, you can imagine yourself as the head of your department, working for a large, multi-million-dollar corporation. This may be appealing, but it would involve a sacrifice of free time, and the responsibility of dealing with interpersonal conflicts in your team.
Determining the vision of your future that appeals to you most, and figuring out whether you are ready and willing to do the work and make the sacrifices to get there, is the first step to determining the long-term goal that will keep you driven and motivated in the years of effort to come. You know you are on the right track when you can accept both the compelling components, and the responsibility levels, that will come from accomplishing your goal.
2. Identify one long-term goal.
Almost everyone can identify several areas in their life that they want to improve upon. The key to setting a great long-term goal is recognizing that a singular pursuit is as pointless as no pursuit at all. You will not feel fully satisfied if you only look to excel in one specific area of your life – you need to find a balance between your personal and professional lives.
3. Break that long-term goal into smaller, more manageable chunks.
As we have already discussed, long-term goals may be the most meaningful and gratifying, but they are also sometimes so distant, motivation can wane. Maintaining a positive attitude and staying focused on reaching them can be difficult when your timespan for completion spans over several years. The best way to prevent this is to break your long-term goal into smaller short-term objectives that take shorter amounts of time to complete. Where necessary, you can even break those objectives into smaller steps that can be completed in just a few days’ or weeks’ time. This deconstruction of your progress towards a long-term goal is what is called an action plan.
4. Take the first step.
Once you have outlined your plan of action towards achieving your long-term aspiration, all you have left to do is to get started on the very first. Set a realistic deadline for the first small task you have identified, and get it done. Celebrate your accomplishments, then move on to the next step, continuing until, eventually, you have reached what you set out to do in the very beginning.
Goal setting, especially in a business context, will always be critical to achieving and maintaining success. It gives us a purpose to start our days and try our best in all our work efforts. Monitoring progress on long-term goals can even be streamlined and leveraged in a way that drives accountability, transparency, and the best results possible for your company. SpriggHR offers Goal Tracking software that drives those results, aligning employee goals with the longer-term objectives of your company, ensuring all actions and tasks undertaken by your team members plays a critical and integral role on the path towards success.
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