Setting goals always sounds great in theory. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve said, “I’m going to restart my blog this month” or, “I want to be better at exercising this year” or, “I promise I’ll actually sign up for those Italian lessons soon.” But I’ve never actually done any of those things.
That’s because goals aren’t about talking the talk—they’re about walking the walk. The secret to success is making an actual plan to get stuff done.
Now, this is usually easier for short-term goals. If you set a deadline, you’ll get that project done on time. If you put “check email” on your to-do list, you’ll do it that day.
But what about long-term goals—like carving out your career path? How do you plan for and execute on something that’s so far in the future and will inevitably fall victim to change?
Recently, I set out to do just this: set and achieve my long-term career goals (because like I said, I’m not great at following through). This meant first defining them, then figuring out how I would achieve them and in what time frame, and finally deciding how I would track them and factor in changes over time.
I know—this sounds like a lot of work. So, why is this important to do?
For one thing, it’s motivating. Rather than taking my career day by day, I feel like I’m actually moving toward my definition of success. Secondly, it helps me narrow down my priorities. It’s easy to want to do everything, but when I know where I’m headed I can more easily focus on the opportunities that will lead to long-term gains (and say “no” to things that won’t).
If you’re looking to do the same with your own goals, here’s my method.