What's a good way of dealing with long-term goals?
March 18, 2007 5:57 PM   Subscribe

What's a good way of dealing with long-term goals?

I ask the question about how to deal with long-term goals because it's a tricky issue. If you are investing yourself into accomplishing something that will take quite a bit of time, it's very easy to feel discouraged because it seems like you are putting in a lot of energy into doing something that will bring you benefits at a later point in time. It feels like cooking a meal that you won't get to eat until days later. What's a good way of working towards long-term goals without feeling frustrated and believing yourself to be wasting your time because the fruit of your efforts is so far away.
posted by gregb1007 to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I have a picture in my office and a reminder on a chain around my neck. Find a symbol that represents what you are trying to achieve and try to make sure that it's with you at all times. When you feel it's slip away use these tokens to remember the bigger picture.
posted by fire&wings at 6:08 PM on March 18, 2007

posted by fire&wings at 6:08 PM on March 18, 2007

I have thought about this too, and though I haven't accomplished it yet for myself I think the best way is to learn to enjoy the process of whatever it is you're doing. The same way people learn to like black coffee, spicy food, or red wine, you should be able to train yourself to learn to enjoy sitting down at a desk to write (for example) or drawing in your sketchbook every day. Easy for me to say, more difficult to do.
posted by JamesToast at 6:18 PM on March 18, 2007

It really depends on the goal. Many long-term goals can be broken up into smaller goals - that is the best way for me to handle it. But my biggest goal is to lose a lot of weight, so thus it is easy for me to break it up into 5 lb increments. I am sure other goals do not lend themselves to being broken down so easily.

However, every day you work towards your goal is a day closer to reaching it. Maybe you can use a calendar with some visual representation of working towards your goal. Even something as goofy as putting a sticker on each day on the calendar that you have worked towards your goal. This way you can look at all of the stickered days and realize that unlike so many people in the world, you are DOING something, dammit! You could also try using an online service like Joe's Goals.
posted by tastybrains at 6:30 PM on March 18, 2007

Whatever goals you set, make sure they are concrete enough that an even outside observer can objectively tell whether you've achieved them. (I.e., "get down to 150 lbs" vs "lose a bunch of weight", or "get a job writing newspaper articles making 30k a year" vs "get a job I like", "sell a painting for at least 200$" vs "learn to paint".)
posted by blenderfish at 6:40 PM on March 18, 2007

Without knowing what your goal(s) is/are, it's hard to know what to say. But obviously the first step is to break your ultimate goal down in to smaller goals. In the end you may have a yearly goal, a goal every six months, and a goal every month. Maybe even weekly goals.

It might also help to approach your ultimate goal in such a way that your interim goals bear fruit for other parts in your life too. Try to set the line for sub-goals at points where you're getting benefits in multiple ways, or toward which you can work in multiple ways.

That way you can also see some of the things you do daily or weekly as linked to your ultimate goal, even if they aren't explicitly. Does that make any sense? Maybe not...

I'm thinking "out loud" here, since I'm dealing with the same question myself. But I guess it seems like a good idea to not only be able to reward yourself at semi-regular intervals, but also to make parts of the work the reward themselves.
posted by poweredbybeard at 7:09 PM on March 18, 2007

Reinhard Engels at Everyday Systems (the guy who brought ShovelGlove to the world) has a great series of systems and podcasts that describe each system. The majority of his systems are about developing good habits and achieving long-term goals. His stuff is common-sense, and very easy to follow. One of his main precepts is that identifying goals is important and necessary, but insufficient. He maintains that developing habitual behavior is the only practical way for most people to achieve long-term personal change. I started experimenting with his systems around the first of the year as a way of sticking to New Year's Resolutions, and so far I've been pretty successful with it. The podcasts are great to listen to and overall I can't recommend his stuff highly enough.
posted by bmosher at 7:38 PM on March 18, 2007 [5 favorites]

You need short term goals in addition to the long term ones. If those short term ones are related to the long term ones that is. Each time you accomplish a short term goal, wouldn't it reinforce your drive to keep going for the long one? It works for me. And it's exactly what was taught to me in a success class. That professor also insisted on personal/positive affirmations. He also said it's important to be very specific about everything. Specific goals. Specific affirmations. And I know how easy it is to get off track or discouraged, but you can't let a setback derail you. Just accept it, no beating yourself up, and keep going. Easier said than done perhaps. But it's a good practice to strive for. I don't utilize all the things he taught me, but they do seem to work.
posted by VegaValmont at 9:37 PM on March 19, 2007

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