Here’s the problem with long-term goals – in theory, it sounds simple. Just think of things you want for yourself in let’s say 10 years, and start putting them on paper right?
The truth is, however, is that it’s not that simple. When it comes to seeing the future, suddenly a whole lot starts being murky. How will I know what I want? What will the world be like then? What if something happens to me?
If those questions sound familiar to you, don’t worry – it happens to all of us.
But setting long-term goals is important to our well-being. It gives us a North Star, an objective to constantly work towards. It gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
The good news is that setting long-term goals doesn’t have to be difficult. Once you have an understanding of basic goal-setting, you’ll have a much easier time planning your goals for the future.
Read on to learn more about how to set long-term goals and inspire you to go out into the world and do incredible things.
What Are the 3 Types of Goals?
Most goals can be classified into three different types. These are:
- Time goals: Short or long-term goals defined by a specific time frame.
- Focus goals: Ultimate goals that keep you focused and help you organize your efforts into smaller sub-goals.
- Topic-based goals: Goals tied to a specific arena of your life, whether it be personal, professional, business, etc.
Of course, these goals don’t exclude one another.
For example, you may have a short-term academic goal which is to pass an approaching exam. Or you may have a long-term career goal to become a project manager.
In fact, some goals can be combined to keep you on track and progressing toward your larger ambitions.
What Are Long-Term Goals?
Long-term goals are goals you envision for your future, and they aren’t easily accomplished. They require a careful balance of planning, timing, and perseverance. An example of a long-term goal would be starting a family or traveling the world.
One of the best ways to identify long-term goals is by seeing if it needs one or more of the following:
- Careful planning
- Hard work
What Are Examples of Long-Term Goals?
Here’s a list of a few good examples of long term goals ideas in life:
- Start a family
- Buy a house
- Go on vacation
- Pursue higher education
- Increase your level of fitness
- Start a business
- Pursue a new career path
- Go abroad
- Learn a new skill or trade
Long-term goals come in many shapes and forms! It’s unique to the individual in terms of how important it is, and how far they’d like to go with it. Goals like these can’t be attained overnight. They require application and dedication to see them through to the end.
What is a long-term academic goal?
A long-term academic goal combines aspects of both time and topic-based goals. It’s goal-bound to a specific area of your life with a project time frame.
Here are a few examples of long-term academic goals:
- Graduating from college cum laude.
- Publishing an academic paper every year.
- Being accepted into graduate school.
Long-term goals are exciting to contemplate, but the practical reality of planning and managing the path to achieving a long-term goal can be daunting.
And that’s where the importance of short-term goals comes into play.
Short-Term Goals: What Are They and Why Are They Necessary?
When planning the execution of a long-term goal, it helps to break the process down into small, bite-sized chunks called milestones.
Milestones, or short-term goals, help you track your progress and give you a sense of accomplishment as you work toward a larger goal.
A long-term goal might take years to accomplish, and it can be easy to feel discouraged and lose momentum. When gratification is delayed, it’s difficult to stay devoted to the task.
That’s why we need shorter sub-goals. They help remind us of exactly what we’re working towards and why. They keep us focused and reward us with a sense of achievement along the way.
What’s the difference between short-term versus long-term goals?
Short and long-term goals may point you in the same direction, but they’re quite different from one another.
You can use the smaller milestones of short term goals to build toward your larger goals:
Say you’re working toward a certification, diploma, or degree in higher education. Obtaining these credentials is no easy feat, and may take several years to achieve. So, we could safely label this as a long-term goal.
As you work toward this big goal in higher education, there will be many short-term goals you complete along the way. These short-term goals help keep you focused and on track to achieve your larger aspiration.
For example, each course could be considered a short-term goal. For each credit that you earn, you are moving a step closer to your long-term goal.
In fact, you can even break short-term goals into even small subsections of sub-goals!
Each course or credit can be divided into papers, assignments, tests, and exams. These are also short-term goals, all helping you build the ladder, rung by rung, toward finishing the credit, the course, and eventually, your certification.
Here is a quick video of Vishen Lakhiani discussing how to redefine setting goals.
Long-Term Goals for Success and Personal Growth
A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.—Harvey Mackey
Having professional long-term goals is important for your well-being and raising your quality of life. Perhaps you’d like a raise or a promotion. Maybe there’s a special project you’re hoping to be able to work on.
Having goals in our careers helps us stay motivated at work; and that’s important, considering that many of us need to work to support ourselves!
But cultivating personal goals is perhaps even more important.
Think back to when you were a child; what did you want to be when you grew up?
Now, keep in mind: what matters isn’t whether or not you became what the childhood you wanted you to be. What matters is that you looked at your future with a sense of excitement, possibility, and wonder.
We must recapture this magic, this idealism, this hunger for more. It’s never too late to do something. Are there aspirations you once held that you’ve let go of?
You can begin putting things in motion that set you on the path to your ambitions today.
Long-Term Goals to Inspire You
If you can’t conjure up any of your old childhood daydreams, don’t worry. As we get older, our ideas and perceptions shift. And what we wanted when we were young may not appeal to us now.
But there are personal goals you can achieve. You have to be willing to open yourself up to the possibilities that surround you. Dare to dream bigger and larger than you ever have before.
Here are some possible goals to get your creative passions flowing:
1. Travel somewhere awe-inspiring
By awe-inspiring, we don’t just mean a weekend road trip to someplace local. We mean plan an adventure that has the potential to change your life.
Visit a religious or spiritual center like the Vatican, Jerusalem, the Taj Mahal, or Mecca. Go on a trip that will challenge you physically, like a trek to the Peruvian citadel of Machu Picchu, or a tour of the sweeping fjords of Norway.
Explore a culture you’ve always been fascinated by. Learn about a place you’ve never been to. Decide where you want to go, and set it in motion.
2. Develop your craft
What is it that you love to do? What do you wish you had more time to pursue? Perhaps you have a skill or craft you’ve worked hard to develop. Or perhaps there’s something new you’ve been longing to learn.
Set aside time on a regular basis to dedicate to your craft. Paint, write, take photos, carve, build, play, learn, explore.
Set a personal milestone for yourself so you have something to work towards. Decide how to get to where you want to be.
3. Do something daring
We’ve begun to verge into bucket list territory, but that’s okay; because doing things that inspire and excite you will only feed the flames of your ambitions.
Ever thought of skydiving? How about learning to fly a plane? Does scuba diving sound like a thrill?
Here are a few ideas you could pursue:
- Bungee jumping
- Ride a hot air balloon
- Ride in a helicopter
- Go white-water rafting
- Learn to ski
- Go kayaking
Do these ideas sound wild? Intimidating? Out of reach?
It means you’re on the right track. On some level, your long-term goals should scare you – it’s a sign of how important it is to you. Just remember that the idea of long-term goal setting isn’t to measure how far away you are from it, but to build a series of short-term goals that bring you closer to it.