We all have hopes and dreams and things we’d like to achieve today, tomorrow and in the future. But if asked what your specific goals are, would you be able to express them clearly? Would they reflect what you truly want? If you’re anything like me, you might think you can answer ‘yes’ to such questions, but later on realise that the ideas are merely inside your own head and are somewhat muddled. That’s fine, but if you’d really like to reach those goals and take the best path on the way to achieving them, it’s a good idea to get some clarity. The long-term goals you set now will impact what you do today and give you a sense of purpose and motivation to make your vision a reality in the future. A bit of last-minute cramming will not suffice I’m afraid, so with the following tips I hope to help you take those scary first steps!
The first thing to remember is that your goals are personal and need to reflect what you truly want. So what if they’re different to those of your best mate or everyone else studying your course. You are an individual and the targets you set yourself need to reflect this – that’s why they will motivate you. So take some time to really think about what you value, what you enjoy and where your skills are. These insights can then be translated into your long-term goals, which can relate to your career, family, finances or health. Envision what you want to be doing, where and how you will be doing it, and with whom.
Break it down
Now that you’ve got your long-term goals clearly defined, it’s time to figure out what you’ll need to do to achieve them. This step isn’t about noting what you will do at precisely what time on each day, but rather a general overview of the type of activities and learning that you might need to involve yourself in to ensure that you move in the desired direction. It might be that you need to upskill, or it could be that you could benefit from some industry-specific experience or even the building of relevant networks. These will become your short term goals which will help measure your achievement towards your long-term goals and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. Whatever they are, they need to line up with your current experiences, capabilities and personal goals so what you need to do might be different to what Joe Bloggs needs to do, even if you share the same long-term goal.
Now that you’ve got some goals in mind, really sit down and think about their achievability. Remember, with long-term goals, you should be looking about 5 to 10 years into the future. So be realistic – If it’s achievable, great; if it isn’t, revise!
Don’t let all your hard work fade away like a New Year’s resolution. Write your goals down and add some dates so you have a deadline in place. Then go and share your goals with someone you trust. These little steps will increase your commitment and make your achievement of the goals more likely.
So you’ve set your long-term goals and everything doesn’t go as planned. Don’t worry – that’s pretty normal. Your task now is to go back to the planning stage and think about how this affects the achievability of your goals. If they need adjusting, do it! None of us know exactly what the future holds, so it’s important to be flexible and roll with the changes. It could be that a new pathway to your goals opens up and it will get you there quicker or perhaps the journey will be richer. Some changes are great and you need to be open and flexible so that you don’t miss out on such opportunities!
Setting long-term goals isn’t easy but certainly is worthwhile. There’s no time like the present, so grab a coffee and get started!