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How long term plans become short term goals

making goals from plansIn a previous post I looked at creating a 5 year plan.

When you drew up your 5 year plan, you were basically writing down your high level goals.

Great news! But the next step is to actually make these plans become reality – and thats where some careful planning comes into play.

You now need to schedule in the time to get the steps done that will eventually make your plans a reality.

Breaking plans down into goals

When you have got a clear picture of where you want to be in 5 years, then breaking these long term plans down into smaller chunks (or goals) for the coming year, months, weeks ahead becomes easier – as you can see whether you are moving  towards or further away from your main goals in life – and change things accordingly.

For example – If you are currently a stay at home mum, but know that in 5 years your children will all be school and you will want to go back to work – your 5 year plan and subsequent smaller goals each year may look something like this:-

5 year plan – Have my own business that fits around school hours

Goals to get there:-

  • YEAR ONE – Decide on the business I want to start – research possibilities and drill down to what I really want – ensuring its feasible and will work for me.
  • YEAR TWO – Write a business plan that identifies what I will be doing and how I will make a profit
  • YEAR THREE – Get qualifications and training if required (and work experience to ensure I will love what I am doing)
  • YEAR FOUR – Decide on a business name, set up the business ready to start trading. Look for suppliers and network. Get premises if necessary or make room for working at home.
  • YEAR FIVE – Get a website and business stationary done – then open for business!

Now you can more clearly see that if these goals are met each year, you will get to the point you want to be (or have planned to be) within those 5 years.

Exciting hey!

And of course, each year can be broken down into smaller goals to make it crystal clear where you are going.

Just saying you want to start a business one day is too daunting – and thats why its important to transform your plans into goals and tasks – you will probably never get there if you don’t identify the steps you need to actually make it a reality (and also will show you whether its feasible in the first place!).

NB – planning it out like this also saves a lot of wasted time – lets say you think you want to start an at home online business selling gifts – when you look around in year one and research this area you may well find that its not as interesting as you thought, or you may decide that actually a bricks and mortar shop would work better in your area. Instead of spending 5 years dreaming of what you think you want, you can make the decisions in year one and move on to something else if its not right, before you’ve put too much time and energy into it.

Don’t let yourself have regrets

Of course – you don’t need to look at the bigger picture all the time, as this has already been done – so you can create more focus on what you can actually achieve more easily – and at the end of that year you know you are a few steps closer to your 5 year plan – rather than the alternative which would be to be still saying “one day I may start my own business”.

The last thing you want is to look back in 5 years time and say – if only I’d done something about starting my business then, I would be ready to go now.

You may not have such large plans for your life, its about recognising what you do want and not regretting not getting there – wherever “there” is.

From the example above its clear that once you start to drill down the larger plans into smaller chunks of work, you will have more chance of progressing and in the end will be where you want to be, in the time frame you wanted as well.

Things quite simply have more possibility of getting done, and life has less chance of getting in the way as it so often does.

You will also feel less overwhelmed as you will know what step to do next.

When should you set your goals?

A lot of people do try setting goals just once a year – namely New Years resolutions.

They put a lot of pressure on themselves to start a new lifestyle at the precise time of year when everythings settling down back into routine after Christmas. Its usually not the best time to set massive goals.

However, the sentiment of New years resolutions is perfect – and just the idea of thinking about what you want to achieve in the current year is fantastic as its giving you a direction and a purpose – and something to really strive for.

Unfortunately, most people fail in their resolutions as they ask for too much too soon and get demotivated when they can’t get to their goals quickly.

Therefore I think that even yearly goals are too large for most people to track and complete well.

You think to yourself that you have a whole year to do it, and procrastinate over it for a few months, decide to start things soon, and before you know it the year has gone and you haven’t got any further towards your plan – it can be really demotivating to say the least.

What works much better is to plan purely for the next, say, 3 months. Every quarter is long enough to get things done without being too burdensome to your daily life and those TO Dos – but its not so far into the distance that it doesn’t give you a little urgency to complete it.

Its all about being realistic and giving yourself a break!

Every 3 months (every quarter) write down the goals you want to achieve, then split these goals up into smaller tasks that are easily doable in smaller chunks of time.

Lastly – put “DO BY” dates against these tasks so that you know that you have more of a chance of completing them.

Heres a link to my setting goals page where you can see how to create goals that are SMART – which may help you when it comes to setting your own goals each quarter.

Doing this every quarter rather than every year also gives you the chance to review where you are headed – as things may have changed slightly (or a lot) in the interim time – and that then saves you wasting time moving forward on something that now may have to change due to your circumstances or due to something you have recently found out (perhaps your training takes 3 years for example).

Prioritise your goals

Once you have tasks that are more manageable then you can start to fit them into your time.

If you think you don’t have the time then you must prioritise these tasks as they are taking you to where you want to be – so think about whether watching TV is really more important for example – we can always find time if we really need to.

Make sure you make time for your goals, as then you’ll be happier in your day to day life, and everyone will benefit from that!

In summary

how long term plans become short term goalsThink about your 5 year plan and break it down into smaller and smaller tasks – tasks that have time dependencies to keep you on track towards the bigger picture.

Add these tasks to your diary each quarter – and review where you are heading at this point as well.

As you complete the tasks you will feel a real sense of satisfaction at having completed them, and feel like you are moving forward.

If you stay on track, and prioritise these tasks, then you will create the life you want to achieve in the end.

** This post may contain affiliate links - to find out more please see my disclosure policy


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