Long-term goals may feel like they’re light years away. If you don’t take a hands-on approach toward achieving them, you might find the years pass by quicker than you thought they would. And most of the time by the time you notice that, it’s too late to course correct fast enough to meet your goals.
So for long-term goals, it’s best to be proactive and get started as early as you can. Here are three tips to keep yourself on track and not stress about achieving your objectives.
1. Work Smarter, Not Harder
Little tweaks here and there can be easy to implement and pay off big time on long-term goals. This is true when it comes to both professional and personal aspirations.
A lot of times, it’s a matter of simplifying a tedious process. In the business world, technology can often lend a hand. If you’re a business owner with a long-term goal of creating a more cohesive team, consider implementing weekly team meetings. If you’ve been hesitating to do something like this because coordinating schedules is a pain, there are apps to help. With a meeting scheduler, you can pull everyone’s calendar and see where common availability is.
Long story short, if it seems like the setup for processes that accomplish long-term benefits seem like a hassle, they might not be. It’s important to look into resources you currently have and maybe even quite a few you didn’t even even know existed.
For retirement, technology has made it easier to look into and access alternative investment strategies. For social goals, it’s easier than ever to look for groups connected to your interests and hobbies. If there’s a more efficient way to get the end result you want, it’s almost always worth looking into.
2. Update Goals As Needed
Sometimes you get into a good routine that should theoretically give you the long-term payoff you want. If your routine is filled with objectively bad habits, it tends to be obvious that a change is needed. But what if you’ve fallen into a groove that seems like you’re making all the right choices?
Well, your choices might be good for goals that desperately need updating. As life changes, your goals typically do, too. If you move into an employment field that you genuinely enjoy, it isn’t unreasonable to extend your planned retirement age.
There are also many things out of your control that can change your goals. If you want to own a certain number of rental properties by age 50, the housing market might change that estimate. Alternatively, the market might change enough that you no longer want to get into the rental game at all.
Economic changes, cultural shifts, and regulatory updates can have an enormous impact on how appealing or achievable certain goals might be. That’s why you need to regularly check on both whether your goals are the same and if they’ve been impacted by external factors.
Really, assessing your long-term goals should happen every five years or after a major life-changing event. Because, really, how many people have the same priorities and outlook on life at both age 20 and 40? As you mature and go through certain milestones, you’ll need to make sure that your plans and strategies don’t need an adjustment.
3. Assess Your Everyday Behaviors
Big decisions are often the most stressful and thought-provoking aspect of achieving long-term goals. For career goals, it might be leaving a stable job in favor of a startup with greater potential for advancement. For health goals, it could be deciding whether or not to pursue surgery to fix a long-standing problem.
While the big decisions certainly do matter, the little things you do or don’t do daily have just as much impact. If you have a 10-year plan to save at least $30,000 toward retirement, cutting down on unnecessary expenses can help. Downsizing your home or finding a new job that offers more aggressive 401k matching are big adjustments. But when it comes to saving money, cutting down on recurring expenses could potentially accomplish the same thing.
So as you go about your daily actions, regularly ask yourself if what you’re doing is helping or hurting your long-term goals. If you go out to dinner four nights a week and get drive-through coffee daily, how does that impact your financial goals? For health goals, are you diligent in keeping your annual checkup but haven’t addressed an ongoing soda addiction?
It’s usually easier to stop yourself from making a single bad decision than it is to change your lifestyle. But if you pinpoint something in your life not conducive to achieving your goals, it might be worth the extra effort.
Embrace the Marathon
Rarely is the process of achieving a long-term goal fun. Oftentimes it’s a slog that requires a great deal of discipline and hard work. But if you know that going in, there are a few things you can do to ease the headache. But if you end up achieving all or most of what you set out to do, there are few things more satisfying.