Set Short-Term Goals from a Long-Term Perspective

When realistically connected to a wide context and to our deepest motivations, goals express a vision of what we really want and lay out a plan for getting there. Goals help organize both thinking and action and provide a way to make rational decisions as situations change along the way. Setting goals is powerful. It is a way to deliberately shape our future.

STEP ONE. Look at your dreams at all levels, focusing on your biggest, longest-term dreams with the largest impact. Attempting to accomplish anything is difficult, no matter the size of the goal. Attempting something big will ensure that we achieve the goal. And more things often happen while we are on the road to achieving that goal.

STEP TWO. Look at intermediate goals. What needs to happen in the next 5-to-20 years for you to realize your dreams? What key issues and group of people do you want to be involved with?

STEP THREE. Look at immediate next steps over the coming year which will take you closer to your dreams. What needs to happen for you to realize your dreams: next year, next month, next week, tomorrow?

STEP FOUR. Taking leadership enables us to make our dreams come true. Seeing to it that things are right for everyone, then moving groups and individuals forward, shows how we care about people and the world around us. Which groups do you want to work with?

STEP FIVE. Set up support systems that will ensure you can carry out both short- and long-term goals. This means committing to activities and relationships that support you in every aspect of your life.

Make  Goals Chart

A goals chart can help anyone decide and remember the direction they want to go in. Create a grid with six sections along the top and six along the left side. Along the left side, list these six areas: for myself, for my family, for my community, for humankind, for all living things, for the universe. Along the top, list these six timeframes: next week, next month, in 1 year, in 5 years, in 20 years, for all time.

Next Week Next Month In 1 Year In 5 Years In 20 Years For All Time
For Myself
For My Family
For My Community
For Humankind
For Living Things
For the Universe

Goals created within this framework can be thought of as ever-widening circles, starting in the center with yourself. Then, goals for your family, your groups, your community. And then goals for the wider groups of which you are a part: all people, all living beings, and the universe.

Goals set this way are also expansive in time. Goal-setting is too often limited to the immediate future—tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. By looking beyond next year, toward years and decades of our lifetime and toward the next generations, short-term goals are better grounded and put into perspective. This can make them easier to accomplish.

Chart adapted from Fundamentals of Co-Counseling Manual, 3rd revised edition,
by Personal Counselors, Inc. (Seattle, WA: Rational Island Publishers, 2001)

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