If I asked you, “you can pursue only one dream in your life, can you answer right now what would that dream be?”
In this article, you will learn how to clearly identify your long term goals. It is quite common to be confused about what goal to chase in life. By answering 3 questions, you will be able to look deep into yourself and identify what motivates you.
Do you want to be more productive and efficient? Have you always wanted to make constant progress towards your long term goals? Do you want to set your goal definition right instead of being unclear about it?
Well, you’re not alone. ‘How to plan long term goals?’ is a question that has bothered many.
This article is the very first step of 3 phase transformation into superhuman productivity. You can look at the complete index of the 3 phases here.
The intent behind this guide is to pave the path for you to lead the life of your dreams. The first step has to begin with identifying your goal and having the right goal definition. While this may seem trivial, it may not always be the case.
Before we start, I would like to let you know that I am not a billionaire. However, I have spoken to loads of successful people and analyzed them. I have tried experimenting with various techniques for the best results. Based on this experience I have compiled a series of steps that have helped me make every single day count.
So, we begin taking baby steps towards the dream goal that we have. Before we get there, you need to answer this most important question.
- Do you know what your long term goals are?
- 3 Questions to help you identify your long term goals
- How to set long term goals by answering 3 important questions
- Question 1: Assume that every week money would magically get added to your bank account. This money is enough to take care of your expenses to lead a reasonable life. What would you like to do for the rest of your life even if you were not paid for it?
- Alternative Question 1: Assume you already have a billion dollars in your bank account. How would you spend most of your time for the rest of your life?
- Question 2: Do you believe that it is worthwhile working harder for your long term goals compared to what you are currently doing?
- Question 3: Why do you want to achieve your dream?
- FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
- Conclusion: Long Term Goal Definition summarized
Do you know what your long term goals are?
Before you answer the question, let me tell you a story about 3 people.
Chris: He is crystal clear about what his goals are for the long run. He also has a plan on what are the possible ways to achieve them.
Samantha: She has a rough mental picture of what her long term goals are. But she is not clear on how to go about achieving them.
Norman: He has no idea what he would love to achieve in life over the long term. Due to the lack of goals, he also has no idea how to plan for the long term goals because they do not even exist. Thus, he takes life as it comes thinking a few days or a month ahead at max.
Who among the three are you in terms of goal definition?
Can you relate yourself to one of these 3 categories? Are you a Chris, a Samantha or a Norman?
Let me know in the comments if you are Chris, Samatha or Norman. I will reply to you if you have any questions. Don’t be shy.
If you cannot relate to any of the three, let me know over a comment about the same. It is unlikely that you do not fall under any of these 3 buckets.
You might be wondering what does defining a goal do? Can you try to go through life at random, hoping that you will hit a goldmine someday? While it has happened in the past with a few, that percentage is scanty. It is unlikely that you will encounter such random luck.
Here is an article, 5 reasons why goal setting is important, on Forbes which explains the importance of goal definition:
3 Questions to help you identify your long term goals
Some of you might have a fixated goal. You are confident enough about it to scream “This is the dream that I would like to achieve in my lifetime.”
Even if you have a well-defined goal, I would still encourage you to answer the 3 questions of this exercise. This is to help you know yourself better and make the dream even stronger.
It is also possible that you have multiple goals that you think are your dream to achieve. Another scenario is that you have no goals that you can immediately think of.
This is not abnormal or a problem. It depends on the phase in your life and the thought process that you have been accustomed to.
It is a problem rather if you spend the rest of your life with no goal to achieve. Every single one of us has been sent to this world with a purpose. Many live their lives failing to attempt to live this purpose, let alone achieve it. I want to make sure you self evaluate your purpose, achieve it and live a legacy behind. That is exactly what we will do now with answering 3 questions.
Is it acceptable if I have no long term goals at the moment?
In short, it is ok to be a Norman currently. It is a problem if you remain in that mindset forever. If you do, you will hate Mondays from the bottom of your heart.
To change that, you will begin by answering three important questions. These are simple, yet powerful questions to help you identify your goals.
While these 3 questions can be answered mentally, but I recommend not to. More than 70% felt that they can better relate to this activity when they write it down on note it on a computer. If you have a notepad or a computer nearby, I would strongly recommend you to use one of them.
To plan long term goals and the path to achieve them, the first step begins with being clear about them. Once you have clarity around your long term goals, you can set up short term goals and objectives to start making progress.
If you are a step ahead in terms of clarity, you can define Smart Goals for yourself right away.
How to set long term goals by answering 3 important questions
Question 1: Assume that every week money would magically get added to your bank account. This money is enough to take care of your expenses to lead a reasonable life. What would you like to do for the rest of your life even if you were not paid for it?
Think hard and deep before you answer this question. It is easy to confuse something that you like as your passion. Let us assume you believe you would like to travel. Do you truly believe you could travel every day for all the many years ahead of you and enjoy it? If the answer is yes, it is indeed your dream to achieve. If you are not quite sure, you need to think harder.
A lot of people have a goal “I want to make loads of money”. No doubt, it is a great goal to aim at. I am not someone who advocates saying it is not right to chase money. You should definitely chase wealth if you want to. At the same time you need to have a strong why and how around that goal.
Having a goal of making a trillion dollars is fantastic. But you also need to know why and what journey of making that money would please you. For people whose goal is around building wealth, this alternative version of the same question will help. Your answer will make your determination to earn that money even stronger.
Alternative Question 1: Assume you already have a billion dollars in your bank account. How would you spend most of your time for the rest of your life?
Are you thinking“I would like to chill at the beaches of Hawaii with a Martini in one hand and a Cuban cigar in the other”? Think again. That is more of a break that you would take or the way you would spend your evening given the privilege of money and time. I highly doubt you would enjoy spending most of the rest of your life doing just that.
Wait. Do not proceed, until you have the answer to one of the above questions. Yes, think of an answer right now. If you are skipping this, you are taking one step closer to remaining a Norman forever.
Other alternative questions to help you define your long term goals
What was your dream to achieve as a kid? (May not apply to everyone)
As a kid, your goal might have been different. It is quite possible that you no longer want to chase the same goal anymore. However, if you try to recall the reason behind your goal, you will notice that it still resonates with your current end result.
At times, it is possible that as a child you knew yourself better than what you know about yourself as an adult.
For example, I wanted to be an astronaut. I dreamed of experimenting and doing things in unknown territory. Even today, I enjoy the experience of experimenting and doing new things, even at the cost of being wrong.
Who are the people you envy(or the results they achieved that you believe were luck) and why?
Though envy is not a good attribute, pretty much you and I are both jealous of one person or another. If you question a little deeper, you will notice that you are usually jealous of that person who already has what you wish for.
Another similar scenario is when someone achieves a result that you could not. You dismiss it convincing yourself that the result happened due to a factor of luck.
When the person has a huge age difference, we respect the person. We respect veterans of a certain skill. This changes if a person of our age bracket is extremely talented in a certain skill. We tend to envy him more than respect him.
Here are more examples:
- The co-worker who has better sales results than you
- The college mate who earns way more than you do
- The young entrepreneur who just got a million-dollar investment
It is ok to be envious because it is an emotion that we cannot always control. As a matter of fact, you can use it to your advantage instead of creating damage or negativity. Ask yourself why are you jealous of that person. It will usually tell you something that you are aspiring for.
Once you have one or more answers to this question, you will have to confirm it with the next question.
Question 2: Do you believe that it is worthwhile working harder for your long term goals compared to what you are currently doing?
For example, if your dream was to be a hip-hop dancer, do you find it worthwhile to spend extra effort on a daily basis for it? If the answer is no, your answer to Question 1 was not convincing enough. You will have to revisit Question 1 and find the right answer.
Repeat this until you are able to confirm your answer with honesty on Question 2. Even if this takes a couple of days or even weeks, make sure you find the answer which is true to your inner self. It is important to get this answer right rather than get an answer fast. Once you do, it is time to move to Question 3.
Question 3: Why do you want to achieve your dream?
As simple as this seems, this is one of the questions most do not have a clear answer to. Answering this question with I want to be a hip-hop dancer because “it makes me happy” or “it is my childhood dream/passion” is not enough.
While all those answers are definitely true, the why behind your dream needs to have a stronger purpose. Not that you cannot achieve your dream without a strong purpose, but just that you are far likelier to keep chasing your dream if your purpose is tied together with a reason.
“I want to be a writer because I love writing and can write for hours together”. This is a great dream but has no underlying purpose.
Here is a good long term goal example for work from a writer:
“I want to be a writer so that I can influence people all over the world with my ideas causing a positive change”. This is a wonderful dream with a strong purpose behind the dream. A quick tip to help you answer question 3 is, instead of answering the question in the format “I want to be ____________________ because……” try answering the question in the following format.
“I want to be ______________________ so that………………………………”
Answering in the above format forces you to be more specific along with a well-defined purpose.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
I hope this is only for reference and not to modify these examples to make them your own goals. A couple of good examples of long term goals are:
“I want to be a successful football player so that I can contribute towards winning championships for my country”
“I want to be a machine learning expert so that I can change the future of mankind by building a product which completely changes the way corporates operate”
Absolutely! In fact, you must. I really hope that you aim for goals that are so massive that they scare you. Especially when it comes to career goals, the bigger you aim, the more you achieve. If your goal is to colonize the entire milky way, it is definitely possible that you achieve that goal.
Remember, all the successful legends who have achieved tremendous success in life began with dreaming big. Read the article on the magic of dreaming big to understand why dreaming big is important.
Totally. It is not always easy to know yourself or realize which goal will bring you a sense of accomplishment. In fact, the goal which you believe is your dream right now might change a few years later. It can happen based on various circumstances and is nothing to worry about.
Even the best people go through this. It is common to spend tremendous effort on a goal that no longer feels fancy after a while. Trust me, you will never regret the effort you put towards any present or past dream of yours. What you have to worry about is gliding through life without any goal forever.
This is the most common excuse to not work on your long term goals. Here is some news for you. After X months, nothing will change except the timeline of you starting to work on your long term goals.
You will have postponed it by a few months again. If you cannot make time for your long term goals now, you can be assured that you won’t be able to do it in the future either. The first best time to start was in the past. The second best time is now.
Any number is better than no progress at also. Also, this one hour seems small on its own. It is difficult for you or me to fathom it right now. But 3-6 months later, the progress that you have made will completely blow your mind. You will take a step back to wonder how did you really manage to make such progress in such a short time.
Well, achieving your long term goals will take a while. The only advice which fits everybody is to persist with patience and discipline along with the right execution. Most people fail to achieve their long term goals because they aren’t even clear about them. If you have answered the 3 questions, you have put your best step forward.
Long term goal example for business: To build a successful restaurant that brings the taste of my traditional local cuisine to the major cities and helps spread our culture within the next 5 years.
Long term goal example for students: To score good grades to enter into the top university and build my own venture which develops the smartest machine-learning algorithm to predict future stock prices.
Long term career goal example: To become the CEO of a pharmaceutical organization and invent medicine for cancer to help the terminally ill survive.
Conclusion: Long Term Goal Definition summarized
This first step of identifying your goal might seem silly or unnecessary. Yet, you should spend quality time to nail this and get it right. Remember, when you are chasing massive goals, there will be days when you are walking all alone. During those times with no one to support, guide or cheer you, you will be your own guiding light.
Most people will find your goals unrealistic and bound to fail. They will even mention that your goals were too big to achieve and that you should be proud because you are way ahead of them.
Don’t get carried away by those words. Your only solace in such scenarios is your own determination and belief. You will not stop and you will achieve your goal no matter what.
This exercise should have provoked your mind to think hard about your goal definition. When you have identified your goal and the purpose behind it, it acts as a self-motivator.
It becomes your consolation encouraging you to continue the journey. On this journey to achieve your massive goals, be prepared to walk a good portion of it alone. Trust me, with a strong will, purpose, and passion to get there, no one can really stop you.
So get started, set goals and achieve them.
This article is Step 1: How to identify your long term goals with 3 questions of the 3 phase transformation into superhuman productivity. You can begin right from step 1 by accessing the index here.
Maxim Dsouza has spent over a decade experimenting and finding various time management techniques to improve his productivity. He strongly understands the fact that time is a limited commodity and tries to make every second count. He has extensive experience in leadership in startups, small businesses, and large corporations.
He has helped people of different professions and age groups gain clarity on their goals, improve focus, revise their time management skills and develop an awareness of their psychological cognitive biases.