Setting Goals: What You Might Be Missing

Setting goals can be tricky. After all, how many times have your worked your arse off to get something, only to be disappointed when you finally did?How many times have your worked your arse off to get something, only to be disappointed when you finally did?

Why is that?

Well, it’s because there’s a big difference between having goals, and having the right goals.

 

Setting goals can be tricky. After all, how many times have your worked your arse off to get something, only to be disappointed when you finally did?

 

We’ve talked a lot about achieving them, but now it’s time to take a step back and look at setting goals. After all, there’s no point having a good aim if you’re shooting for the wrong stars.

Like most things, goals come in different shapes and sizes. Some are so small as to be insignificant (no matter how many times I tick “have a shower” off my to-do list, it’s never going to make me feel like I’ve got my shit together), and some are so big that they feel unachievable (though, admittedly, “Ruler of the Universe” does have a nice ring to it).

That’s why, when setting goals, you should always have three types: short-term, medium-term, and long-term.

 

Setting goals can be tricky. After all, how many times have your worked your arse off to get something, only to be disappointed when you finally did?

 

Short-terms goals give you quick wins. I would define these as anything that can be achieved within the next month or two. They keep the momentum and motivation going, and help you feel like you’re actually achieving something. Without them, it’s too easy to run out of steam. After all, nobody wants to slog away at something when the payday is too far into the future, and it’s too easy to get lost along the way if you can’t see your destination. You’ll start to feel downhearted and defeated and, eventually, you’ll give up.

So go ahead and reap as many benefits as you can as often as you can and keep the feel-good vibes flowing. They’ll see you through the bad times because, when your cup already runneth over, it’s easier to let a few splashes and spills go.

Having said all that, only setting goals in the short-term isn’t going to give you direction. Even though the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, you still need a map to know you’re going in the right direction. But you also don’t want to completely overwhelm yourself by seeing the big chasm you have to cross, because that’s a surefire way to quit before you even begin. That’s where your medium-term goals come into play.

In a nutshell, they’re the Goldilocks of goals — not too short and not too long. They’re far enough into the future that they feel challenging and like something that’s actually worth striving for, but not so far that you lose focus.

 

Setting goals can be tricky. After all, how many times have your worked your arse off to get something, only to be disappointed when you finally did?

 

For me, these can take anywhere between three months to a year. The more motivation required, the shorter your timeframe should be. For example, getting to a certain fitness level requires a lot of motivation, so it’s best to set yourself a goal that isn’t too far into the future. Motivation is a fickle beast and will need as much positive reinforcement as possible to keep it coming back. On the other hand, something like completing your current course can be closer to the year mark because it’s usually easier to get yourself to class every day than it is to the gym.

Medium-term goals are also a great review point because, as we grow, we go through so many transitions. The things we want out of life change, and achieving a medium-term goal is a great reminder to stop and reassess if you’re still steering in the right direction or if it’s time to adjust the sails. There’s no shame in picking a new destination if you decide the old one isn’t worth seeing anymore.

And that leads me to long-term goals — the ones that take a year or more to achieve, but lead you a lot closer to the life you want for your future self. These can be the hardest to stick to because they’re so far removed from our present selves and the deadline is too far away to feel pressing.

So what’s the point in setting them? Quite simply, to give your life direction. If you don’t know where you want to end up, you won’t know which decisions to make in the here and now to get you closer to your destination.

 


 

For instance, for me, I want a quiet and calm life. I want freedom and financial independence. I want to make the world a better place. I keep that vision in mind when it comes to setting goals and making decisions on a daily basis. It’s why I took on the KonMari Method, why I’m striving towards a minimalist lifestyle, why I quit a legal career in favour of being an online content creator, why I meditate, why I reuse and recycle, why I donate, and why I try to inspire people and cheer them on.

In short, my long-term vision for my life dictates almost everything I do in the day-to-day. It’s what keeps me on track and helps me steer the good ship Hutchinson in the right direction.

Long-term goals are like the north star — they lead you home.

 

Setting goals can be tricky. After all, how many times have your worked your arse off to get something, only to be disappointed when you finally did?

 

So there are “goals” and there are #GOALS. And, like everything in life, a good balance is what’s required. It can be too easy to get caught up in the daily targets — like keeping the house clean — and then lose all sense of direction in your life. But it’s also easy to blindly follow a big life goal like a job promotion and start neglecting the little things.

Take some time today and look at the way you’re setting goals. Do you have all three types or are you lacking in some area? Fill in the gaps so that you have regular small wins to keep you moving, medium-term goals to challenge you and help you grow, and a larger vision for your life to give you a sense of purpose and direction.

 

LET ME KNOW…

What’s one short-term, medium-term, and long-term goal you have for yourself?

 

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10 Comments

  1. Best quote ever “There’s no point in having a good aim if you’re shooting for the wrong stars.” I will be sharing that with my students and adding it to the front cover of my planner. Thanks for the great reminder about the importance of goals.

    • Hurray! So glad you found it helpful and inspiring, 😀 I hope your students are equally inspired. And send me a pic of the front cover of your planner! I’m on Instagram and Twitter (@HowToGYST) or post it on the Facebook page (facebook.com/HowToGYST). Would LOVE to see it. 😀

  2. Ooh, I love this! I have a tendency to get caught up in medium- and long-term goals and get disheartened when I feel like I’m making no progress. One thing I’ve found that helps me here is to focus on habits, so if my goal is to buy a house, for instance, I work on implementing a habit of putting money in my savings and not wasting it on takeaways.

    I’ve also started doing quarterly goal-setting sessions, where I set one goal for each of four major areas in my life and identify 1-3 habits or regular tasks I’ll implement to achieve that goal. So far I’m only around 5 weeks into my first quarter, though, so I have no idea if these are effectively helping me with short-term goals or not yet!

    • Yep, it definitely sounds like you need to get yourself some short-term goals. =) Think of something specific you want to achieve in the next 4-8 weeks. Celebrate when you hit it. 😀

      Also, are you setting four goals per quarter, or one goal for each quarter?

      • I’m doing four per quarter, so one in each category 🙂

        Definitely setting aside some time this weekend to set some short-term goals!

        • I would say that 4 goals per quarter is quite a lot when they’re bigger, more medium-term goals. I think if you reduce the amount, you’ll increase your chance of success. =) Maybe have 1 medium-term goal for that time, broken down into 4 short-term goals.

          • Well, I’m not setting *big* goals in every category, but I know from experience that if I focus too much on one goal then the other areas of my life suffer, so what I’ve tried to do is set less ambitious goals so that over the course of a week I’m giving time and attention to all the important areas of my life instead of focussing on just one.

            But we’ll see how this shakes out at the end of October, anyway 🙂 If I get to Hallowe’en and haven’t achieved all my goals, I’ll try just setting one quarterly goal and seeing how that works out for me.

          • Good plan. It’s only by reviewing that we can see what’s working and what’s not. Halloween is a great deadline to give yourself — not too far away but not too immediate either. Good luck!

  3. Pretty good post.I have really enjoyed reading your blog post.

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