‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ This is a question is one that is almost always asked in an interview. It's also one that we often ask ourselves on those drab Monday morning commutes to work, albeit in a different form: ‘Is this really what I want to be doing with my life?’ If you feel like something in your life has to change for the better, it's up to you to come with up with a plan that enables you to turn wishful thinking into reality.
Long-term goals are notoriously difficult to achieve. Not only are they difficult to come up with, they require steadfast dedication and determination to be realised. But if you feel that it's high time you decided what you want your future to look like, and you're willing to put in the work to make it a reality, here are a few tactics you can follow to develop and achieve long-term goals.
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Developing a long-term goal
Deciding on a long-term goal is itself an arduous task. Most of us don't know what we would like our lives to be in a month or two, so planning five to ten years ahead seems almost foolhardy. But that's exactly what you'll need to do if you want to come up with an attainable long-term goal. You'll need to spend a lot of time thinking about what you want out of your life in the future – whether it's financial security, a family, or a fulfilling career. It's important not to romanticise the notion of your future life either. You'll need to acknowledge and consider all the negatives that will undoubtedly accompany the positives. For example, if you want to be a multimillionaire entrepreneur, you'll have to sacrifice things like spending time with friends and family or going on vacations. Any road that you take will be strewn with obstacles; you need to find the one that you want so badly that nothing will deter you.
Divide and conquer
Long-term goals should always be specific goal. That way you can create a solid action plan of all the steps you need to take in order to accomplish the final objective. Working towards a goal that will only be realised years later can be highly demotivating. You'll soon start viewing it as wishful thinking and stop working towards it in favour of something that returns more immediate rewards. To avoid this harmful process, it's essential to break down any long-term goal into smaller, more actionable tasks. Each task that you complete will give you a sense of accomplishment and renew your hope in the final vision. You should create a strict timetable for these tasks and unfalteringly abide by it. Review and analyse your progress each day to see where you're lagging. And once you've identified the tasks and created a schedule for your sub-goals, start working on them at the earliest. The longer you put off starting them, the more difficult it's going to get to do so.
Keep a backup plan ready
You should prepare yourself for the possibility that no matter how dedicated you are to the cause, there's always a chance that your dream may not be achieved. Family problems, financial situations, and socio-political turmoil are some of the obstacles that can prevent you from attaining your goals. One thing you can do to prevent this from occurring at all is predicting and planning for problems before they occur. For example, if you're starting a business and are unsure of securing funds, start saving your own money or find other alternatives of income in case you suddenly find yourself in dire straits. Sometimes, however, the circumstances can be entirely out of your hands and no amount of previous planning can prevent your goal from being achieved. Such scenarios are extremely demotivating and might cripple your drive to do anything at all. To avoid falling into this dangerous trap, always keep a backup plan in case your main long-term goal suddenly goes out of your grasp. You would have undoubtedly come up with a few ideas while deciding on your long-term goal in the first place, so keep your second favourite one as a backup to the one you ultimately decided to pursue.
Take care of yourself
Your health is the most important investment you'll ever make. What's the point of working for years and becoming successful if you're in no condition to enjoy the rewards of your efforts? I know it sounds like a broken record, but regular exercise, a healthy diet, and good sleeping habits are vital for maintaining your health. And keep in mind that psychological well-being is as important as physiological health. Spending time with friends, celebrating the small successes, and taking up a hobby that you enjoy are good ways to ensure that you don't burn-out from the constant stress that life entails.
Also, remember that discipline is far more powerful than motivation. There might be days when you won't feel like doing anything and you may even question the possibility of achieving your goals. But if you're disciplined enough, if you've developed an unwavering dedication and commitment to yourself, then you'll never be at the mercy of something as fickle as motivation.