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Goal Setting: Focus on the Long Term

By: Bruce Burke

Last Updated: 12/3/23

Goal setting can be tricky. To be successful with your shorter-term objectives, you must first have a clear vision of your longer-term goals. These goals can be considered the “end game” and should lead to greater personal/professional satisfaction and happiness. This week we will focus on how to create effective long-term goals.

A few initial points to consider:

  • Develop a vision for yourself. Having a vision of who you aspire to be creates direction and adds power to your goals. It also makes the outcomes more sustainable.
  • Set goals high enough to stretch yourself and grow, but not so high that you set yourself up for failure.
  • Create goals that are both attainable and sustainable.

Consider why you want to accomplish your goals. A common goal  is going on a diet to lose weight. That’s great, but why do you want to lose weight? Is it so you can fit into your new jeans or look good once warmer weather hits? There is no problem with objectives such as these (we all have them), but are they sustainable? Will you still have the same resolve after you have achieved your goal? Psychologically, we often feel as though we have “crossed the finish line” and have trouble sustaining our progress longer-term.

A more powerful approach is to set goals consistent with a vision of who you aspire to be. For example, if your vision includes being a good parent, your nutrition/fitness related goals and commitments will have greater meaning. Your desire to be a good role model creates added “staying power” as you pursue your goals.

Create a Personal Mission Statement.

Developing a Personal Mission Statement is an excellent way to capture your vision and begin walking it out. You can use it as a guide to create truly meaningful goals. It will also provide motivation and focus as you pursue these goals throughout the year. Your mission statement should address who you aspire to be (your character) and what you want to accomplish.

There is no right or wrong way to create a Personal Mission Statement. However, here are a few tips to help get you started:

  • Identify someone you admire. Why do you admire this person? What values and principles does this person represent? What do they have that you want?
  • Imagine yourself at your own funeral. As your friends and family come to pay their respects, what would you hope each person says about your character and accomplishments? What do you hope to be your legacy?
  • Commit your thoughts to paper or an electronic document.
  • Write/type freely. Don’t worry about grammar…just get your ideas down.
  • Keep working until you have a meaningful statement that inspires you.

Clearly identify who you aspire to be (ie your long-term vision) and document it. Then use it as a guide to develop shorter-term goals that will help you be that person.

Be on the lookout for next week’s Focus Point of the Week. It will discuss how to make your short-term goals more powerful by connecting them to your longer-term vision!