Ever feel stuck or plateaued? Without them we’re aimless, with them we can find a path to success. Goals help us shift focus or direction in life. They allow us to see the forest through the trees and wipe away unnecessary clutter from our thoughts and give us laser focus for what lies ahead. From personal experience I excel when I have a short term goal in mind. I am a checklist type of person, the satisfaction of marking off a list is second to none. Except maybe taking that plastic film off a new piece of electronics, that’s amazing.

Some layups when it comes to my personal short term goals are weightlifting meets. I say layups because weightlifting generally follows a 12 week cycle and has a definitive start and end date. But this can be put to any physical task at hand. Give yourself a start date and measure out 4, 8 or 12 weeks and give yourself an end date. It may help to have a physical event like a competition, race or obligation that will keep you on track.

Additionally, goals clear my head of clutter that can side track me. A short for instance is this past weekend we did a ton of landscaping in our backyard. This wasn’t a plan that had been set in place for weeks but a short term decision that set a goal in place for the weekend. Saturday was spent buying materials and Sunday was completely devoted to the act of finishing the backyard. This act of setting a very short term goal allowed my mind to clear itself of other responsibilities because I had devoted all my time and energy to completing this single task.

Long term goals can be much harder to gauge. The results from your work are hidden by other short term goals, obstacles and time suckers. A physical log can help you determine how far you have come and what is still left to do. If it is a large task and something you’re not experienced in, I suggest getting a mentor of sorts. Someone who can guide you in your journey and has experience in the field of the goal you’re trying to reach. A few things to think about when setting a long term goal:

  1. Does your long term goal align with your personal values?
  2. Center a small part of your day around working toward your long term goal.
  3. Make your long term goals into short term tasks
  4. Prioritize things that “have” to be done into things that are “urgent” or things ‘that can wait”
  5. Work backwards from your goal. Think about your goal and what steps you need to take to get there. Eventually you’ll find a manageable starting point.

Sometimes just getting to a place in our life that allows us to set a goal can be the first road block. Below are some questions to ponder when thinking of your goals for the future:

  1. What are the first thoughts that come to mind about the past year? Mostly positive, negative, or neutral?
  2. What was one of the most interesting things I learned this year?
  3. Who has influenced me positively or negatively this year?
  4. What was one of my most challenging moments? Why?
  5. What was one of my favorite accomplishments?
  6. What was one personal strength I used this year? How did it benefit my work or life?
  7. What hurdle came up more than once? (time, money, attitude, location, knowledge, etc.)
  8. How well did I communicate with the people who matter most to me?
  9. What three events or accomplishments were made possible by the help of others?
  10. What advice would I offer someone else on the basis of a lesson I learned this year?
  11. What are three problems that came up in my life? How did I approach solving those problems? Are there any trends in those problems or solutions?

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