How to Set Long Term Goals and Achieve Success

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There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work… THERE ARE NO LIMITS! – Michael Phelps

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?

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:

  • 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 engage in regular exercise to keep healthy and burn off excess fat 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.

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.”

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

1.  Make Goals, Not Wishes

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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

The Power of Being Specific - Two Twelve Referrals

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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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. 

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

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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.  Re-evaluate and Adjust

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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.

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

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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.

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