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What are Long-Term Goals?
Before we take a deep dive into successful long-term goals, what are they? When I say the phrase “long-term goals,” I am referring to goals that you personally set for yourself to achieve in 3 or more years. For me, I create a different set of goals for intervals of 3, 5, 10, and 25 years. Usually, long-term goals are not as specific or hammered down as short-term goals (1 year or less), but they highlight the big-ticket goals that you want for yourself in the long-run.
A goal is a milestone you set for yourself to reach in the coming future. It is a powerful productivity and motivational tool to ensure you maintain focus and work on projects that really matter. Click To Tweet How are Long-Term Goals different form a Bucket List?
A bucket list is a simple, non-specific list of experiences, goals, or milestones you wish to accomplish before you die, whereas long-term goals are actionable, SMART goals (we will go into this later) with specific deadlines that you work towards using short-term goals, trackers, and more. For example, a bucket list might say “Go to Europe” whereas a long-term goal might say “Save up $5,000 over the next 3 years then visit Germany and France for 3 weeks straight with my significant other.” See the difference? A bucket list is a great stepping stone into long-term goal planning. BUT, you might have some bucket list items (perhaps the ones that are not as much of a priority) that don’t make it to your long-term goals list.
Why are Long-Term Goals so Important?
There are countless benefits of creating long-term goals. Once you start using them, you will immediately begin seeing how useful, exciting, motivational, and beneficial they truly are. Personally, I started to seriously use long-term goals about four years ago. On my “3-year long-term goals” list, I had a few hot topic items include: start a blog, move to a new city, begin engineering school, and pass the geology licensing exam. Then, I was able to use these four major goals to create smaller goals and I am SO proud to say that I have accomplished each of them (and more!). If I can do it, I absolutely know you can too!
As I have said, there are countless benefits of creating and using long term goals.
My favorite benefits include the fact that long-term goals: Motivate you to live out your dream life Focus your energies on your highest priorities Give you an easy pathway to create and achieve short-term goals Create a useful resource when creating other tools such as vision boards Ensure you live out a fulfilled and happy life Forces you to evaluate your priorities in life and focus on what truly matters Pin this post for later reference! Supplies for Creating Long-Term Goals
Long-term goals can be created digitally. But a much more fun and perhaps more fulfilling way is to write them down by hand. Many people choose to create long-term goals and include them inside their planner or journal. Others create more visual goal lists with pictures for each item. Whichever way you choose, here are some great supplies to help you along the way:
The Olden Chapters Printable Planner: This is my printable planner that is perfect for 20-Somethings looking to up their productivity. It includes great list-creation templates and goal-setting worksheets to help you in your path to achieve your dreams. Bullet Journal: Many people use a bullet journal as a planner, list holder, or personal journal. I personally use it as the latter two paired with my printable planner. Bullet journals make amazing notebooks because they have dot-grid pages and a specific index area. If you want to learn more about how to use a bullet journal efficiently, check out Rider Carol’s fabulous book The Bullet Journal Method. Project Planning Free Printable: This is my free project planning printable that is perfect for starting your goals of on the right foot! It helps you create an attack plan for any large goal, with space for notes, a task list, reward, and more! Coletto Pen and Refill: These pens are absolutely my favorite to use when color coding tasks and notes. They are fantastic multi-pens that don’t feel too bulky and have amazing ink quality! Be warned, the pen itself doesn’t come with ink (because they are so customizable) so you have to purchase them separately. Tombow Duel Brush Pens: These fantastic brush pens are great for goal setting, journaling, and project planning. The lighter colors are great to use as highlighters and the darker colors are perfect for sketching out ideas. They are super popular to use with the bullet journal! Poster Board: When you’re working on your goals, it is important to print them out and post them somewhere (even better to create a vision board!). Poster board is one of the cheap essentials needed in this process! Glitter Glue: Another great craft supply to always have on hand is glitter glue. It just adds that extra bit of flare to any project, don’t you think? Command Strips: Command strips are perfect for hanging up your goals and poster board onto your wall. I use these ALL THE TIME to hang up my vision board and goals (which I keep in a picture frame on the wall near my desk). Command strips make it so easy to hang anything you need and ensure you don’t damage you walls! Mod-Podge: Finally, mod-podge is great when creating your goals, especially if you are going to hang up a list of your goals or create a vision board on your wall. Just add a layer of mod-podge and it will last forever! Check out my Ultimate Student Printable Planner today! It will skyrocket your productivity, explode your GPA, and help you reach all your goals! Project Planner Free Printable
This freebie is perfect to kickstart your goals on the right track! It helps you turn your goals into actionable steps, with space to add a task list, notes, ideas, rewards, and so much more! Download it today to get started!
How to Create Successful Long-Term Goals
Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s discuss how you can create successful long-term goals. Follow these foolproof steps below and you will be one step closer to living out a wonderful life!
1. Create a Personal Mission Statement
Before you begin any goal-setting process, I highly recommend you create a personal mission statement. This is a short, one-to-two sentence statement that embodies your values, priorities, and overall purpose in life. It is such a useful tool to use whenever you create goals or are looking for motivation. It will help you evaluate your true purpose and ensure you focus on what truly matters in your long-term goals.
Related: A Step-By-Step Guide to Creating an Effective Personal Mission Statement 2. Create Your Long-Term Goal Deadlines
Next, write down your long-term deadlines. This is pretty simple and straight forward. What I recommend is to use 3-Year, 5-Year, 10-Year, and 25-Year long terms and update or re-evaluate them when you see fit. Then, for each of the terms, write down the actual deadline for each. For example, if you’re working on your goals exactly on January 1st, you should have a deadline for each of your goals on January 1st, but in different years. This will help bring meaning to each of your long-term goals and assist you in pursuing them.
3. Create Your Categories
Now that you have your deadlines, it is time to create your categories! Choose categories for areas in your life you truly want to focus on in the long term. You don’t have to choose a ton, but don’t limit yourself either! Here are some examples of categories you can use to choose from:
Career Business Family Health Personal Financial Education Travel Experience 4. Brainstorm Long-Term Goal Ideas
Next, start brainstorming goal ideas to add to you each category and/or deadline. You don’t have to be specific yet, just write down everything that comes to mind. Be sure to reference your bucket list and mission statement as you do this!
To help you get started, here are some questions you can answer: In 3/5/10/25 years, what do you want your life to look like? What have you always dreamt about accomplishing? In order to reach your highest goals, are there large sub-goals you need to reach as well? Do you want to start a family? Get married? Purchase a home? Travel the world? Become a millionaire? If so, by when? (check out more ideas to get you started below!) What major items on your bucket list do you want to check-off within the next 10 years? 25 years? Related: The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Fulfilling Bucket List (+50 Ideas to Get You Started!) 5. Research Ideas to Add to Your Long-Term Goals
Alright, now it is time to research inspirational ideas to finish off your brainstorming list. To get you started, I have listed some great ideas below as well as some bucket list ideas HERE. Be sure to be thorough and write down anything that sparks your interest (you’ll narrow them down in a second).
Related: The ONLY Student Planner You’ll Ever Need to Smash your Goals 6. Organize and Narrow Down Your Ideas
Now that you have a complete and comprehensive long-term goals list, it is time to organize and narrow down your ideas. First, be sure they are in their own respective deadline (see step 2 for more information). Then make sure each goal is placed into its correct category (see step 3 for more information). It is okay to have similar goals for each deadline!
Next, you will want to go through each and every goal to be sure that it is something you truly want to pursue. Is it realistic? Is it something you’re interested in? Try to narrow down your goals to a good number that will work for you. You don’t want too many goals that will overwhelm you, but you don’t want to limit yourself either!
7. Finalize Your Long-Term Goals
Okay, now is the time to take a serious look at each individual goal and turn it into a SMART goal. These are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Let’s do an example:
Brainstormed goal: Buy a house. SMART long-term goal: Save $20,000 for a down payment on a home in three years.
See the difference? The main hurtle for many people is saving up for the down payment, so that is what I chose to focus on (note I used a completely made-up number). This goal is Specific (I narrowed in on the down payment portion of the issue), Measurable (there is a numeric value, $20,000), Attainable (for argument sake, let’s say that was an attainable financial goal), Relevant (yes, a down payment is incredibly relevant to purchasing a home), and Time-Bound (due in three years). Then, I would be able to turn to my short-term goals and map out my savings plan.
Because we have already created deadlines, each should already be time-bound (yay!). So it is now your job to finish the rest of the SMART requirements. This will make it so much easier to reach in the future!
Once you’re done, be sure to type them up and post them somewhere you can easily see them!
Check out this awesome book for more information: SMART Goals Made Simple by S. J. Scott 8: Revisit and Edit Each Year
Now that you have your long-term goals all finished up and posted, be sure to actually schedule some time to reevaluate them in the future. This can easily be done once a year. They might need to be tweaked as your life journey brings you down other paths. Also, don’t forget to congratulate yourself on finishing your long-term goal setting each time you check in!
Bonus: 42 Long-Term Goal Ideas to Get You Started
Next up is a quick list of goals that might help you get started on brainstorming your own long-term goal ideas. Because each person is different, I haven’t added any deadlines.
Career Study # hours for a licensing/professional exam (and pass it!) Get promoted to the ____ position at work Make a minimum income of $$$ Complete # big projects at work Related: 10 Essential Steps for Finding Your Dream Career Business Start a blog and make a minimum of $$$ per year Have a social media following of # per platform Create the perfect online store and sell # items Make enough money ($$$) to leave my day job Related: The Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Start a Blog (#5 Changed My Life!) Family Go on # date nights per month for # years Adopt and/or have # children Go on # family vacations that last at least # days Eat dinner at the table # nights a week for # years Related: 34 Amazing Date-Night Ideas that Don’t Break the Bank Health Run # miles Hike # miles and reach an elevation of # Train for and run the # marathon Maintain a BMI of # Be able to do the ____ yoga pose Related: How to Eat Healthy on a Time Crunch and a Budget Personal Volunteer # total hours Read the Top 100 Books to Read Before You Die list Fill up # journals Make # new friends Create a killer capsule wardrobe with only # pieces Fill up # scrapbooks to cover # years of memories Related: 21 Life-Changing Books for 20-Somethings Financial Save up $$$ for a down payment on a home Save up $$$ for a down payment on a vacation home Purchase a ________ car/boat/etc. with cash Save up $$$ for retirement Invest in _____ until you reach a value of $$$ Save up $$$ for each child to go to college Pay off all of your debt by the time you are # Related: Budgeting 101 – A Foolproof Way to Create and Stick to a Budget Education Graduate college with a 3.5 GPA or higher Visit and learn from all of the major museums in the world (include a list) Take # credits of a foreign language at a local college Visit ____ and test your foreign language skills Learn # new outdoor skills (archery, rock climbing, surfing, etc.) Learn # new indoor skills (sewing, scrapbooking, pottery, etc.) Related: The Ultimate Guide to Studying for an Exam Travel/Experience Spend # days in Europe Journey on the top 10 train routes in the world Spend # days on each continent in the world Visit each state for at least # hours/days each Check off 5 (3-year), 10 (5-year), 20 (10-year), and 30 (25-year) items off the bucket list Travel by each mode of transportation for at least # hours each Related: The Ultimate Guide to Studying Abroad in College What is Next? (+ Top Tips to Be Successful!)
Now that you have all of your long-term goals laid out and ready to take on, you might be wondering what are you next steps? I am so glad you asked! Below, I have listed a few great next steps and the top tips I have for you to be successful on your journey.
Create an effective vision board to help visualize your goals and maintain motivation. Build a Bucket List if you haven’t already (and note the difference between a bucket list and long-term goals list, which I touched on at the top of this post). Make short-term goals that are centered around each of your long-term goals. These are more specific and essentially create your goal-attack plan! Read some amazing books (listed below) and check out some fabulous podcasts to learn even more tips and tricks! Top Books on Goal Setting
The entire goal setting and achieving process can be overwhelming and difficult. There are absolutely right and wrong ways of going about it and these books have helped me achieve my biggest dreams (and continue to lead me in the right direction today!). I am sure they will lead you on the path to achieving your largest goals in life.
The Compound Effect: Jumpstart your Income, Your Life, Your Success by Darren Hardy
If you haven’t read this book you are seriously missing out. It is a complete game changer and should be sitting on everyone’s shelf. This Wall Street Journal and New York Times Bestseller covers the powerful yet surprisingly simple principle that little everyday decisions will either help you achieve greatness or end up in disaster naturally, and how to steer them in the right direction. It covers how to win at everything, abolish bad habits, maintain motivation and more. It is an absolute must read!
Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals by Michael Hyatt
As the title suggests, this is book covers a phenomenal 5-step plan that guarantees you set and reach the most important goals in your life. It covers tips that help you when you get stuck, how to quit-proof your goals, and so much more. As an added bonus, it is a quick and easy read!
Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr
This New York Times Bestseller explores the secrets of the famous and wildly successful goal-setting system of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) that has been proven time and time again to be effective. This system ensures you maintain focus and stay on track until your goals are being met!
Goals! How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Thought Possible by Brian Tracy
This is a fantastic book that helps distinguish the people who reach their goals from those that just dream of having a better life. It then dives into a simple yet powerful goal setting method that is incredibly effective. Tracy also focuses on specific goals in different areas in life, such as finances, health, and family. A fantastic read!
Finally, if you’re interested in more goal-related blog content, here are some blog posts you might be interested in:
How to Create a Personal Mission Statement The ONLY Student Planner You’ll Ever Need to Smash your Goals The Ultimate Guide to Crafting the Perfect Vision Board Create a Bucket List that Will Forever Motivate You (+50 Life-Changing Ideas)
And… that is it! Wow, that was a TON of material I just threw at you. I hope you were able to absorb some of it into your amazing and smart brain to enable you to create those killer long-term goals I know you can achieve. It might take a little patience and time, but long-term goals are the best way to start living a life you truly love. Have fun and happy goal setting!
Ready to turn your dreams into reality? Check out my Ultimate Guide to Creating an Effective Vision Board!
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