Are You Setting Your Goals All Wrong?

The long-term goal vs. the short-term goal.

Photo by dan carlson on Unsplash

We’re a bunch of impatient fuckers.

We don’t have the patience to stick to our goals or habits because we’ve learned to expect things in mere seconds.

Want to turn down the lights? Ask Alexa. Need to put in your credit card information? Use your thumbprint. Want to unlock your phone? Hold it up to your face.

The world is at our fingertips, and we’ve forgotten that our goals and dreams are not.

Your big dreams won’t come true in a few weeks

When it comes to huge goals like writing a book, becoming a famous vlogger, or getting to share a stage with Ariana Grande, you’re screwed if you want it to happen fast — because it won’t.

No matter what path you decide to take in life, it’s going to be a long one.

Sure, you could record a YouTube video that goes viral and, in a couple of months, become the opening act for Ariana Grande, but you shouldn’t plan on it.

If you expect to reach your goals in a short amount of time, you’re going to end of devastated because you most likely won’t reach them so quickly.

And then you’ll quit.

But I don’t want you to quit.

You’ve been setting your long-term goals all wrong

Long-term goals are important. You’ve probably been setting them for a while now.

But if you’ve quit many ventures, if you’re always discouraged and you haven’t seen any success yet, it’s because you’re setting your long-term goals all wrong.

What’s the mistake you’re making?

You’re setting a short-term goal and calling it a long-term one.

A long term goal would be to finish writing a book in eighteen months. A short-term goal would be to write one chapter per week.

You’re probably setting a goal to write an entire book in three months. When you don’t reach that goal, you’ll get pissed, and then you’ll move on to the next project.

If you keep jumping from project to project in the span of a few months, you’re never going to succeed.

You have to pick something and stick with it before you try out something else.

“Most people are short-term oriented and choose pleasure, satisfaction, and dopamine hits right now at the expense of bigger gains somewhere in the future.

Essentially, they are robbing themselves of the opportunity to create a better future by picking instant gratification over delayed gratification. All in all, it’s ruining their chances of success.”

Jari Roomer

In other words, you need to stop expecting things to happen now and remember that real shit takes time.

Long-term goals set you apart

When you set realistic long-term goals, you’ll to stand out.

While everyone else is setting what they think is a long-term goal, giving up too quickly, and moving on, you’re going to be working hard on the same plan.

I love the quote below. It’s about writing, but you can apply it to anything you try to pursue in life.

“My plan was to write two novels a year for ten years before I ascertained whether or not I had a chance of making this work. . . . If you set a long term plan like this, and stick with it, you will succeed… 99.9% of your colleagues will drop out before they finish their plan. But you’ll outwork them.”

— Hugh Howey

Our goals might take a buttload of time, but by working hard and not giving up, we have a genuine chance of success.

Doesn’t that sound better than grasping at a new thing every time you don’t reach your so-called long-term goal?

Still, you have to set short-term goals

Short-term goals are just as important as long-term goals. The key is to set the right type of goal. Again: don’t set a long-term goal and label it a short-term one.

For example, I have a long-term goal to make $5,000 a month on Medium in five years.

I have short-term goals in-between that will help me reach those goals. This month’s short-term goal was to publish fifty-five articles.

Set smart short-term goals, and do what you can to reach them. If you don’t reach one, move the date, and try again.

That’s another critical factor — that you keep trying.

Working on long-term goals won’t always be easy

Your journey is going to be a tough one, and you’ll fall and scrape your knees, but you have to stand up and keep walking, bruised and all.

The data and analytics are what’s going to get to you the most. The low numbers of readers, followers, subscribers in the beginning — that‘s what pushes people to quit.

You’re going to feel embarrassed, like a failure, and like the work isn’t worth it.

You can’t pay attention to any of that. You’ll cave in sometimes, and feel discouraged, and that’s fine. But remember, your art and journey matters more than these initial stats.

Remember this: Who cares about having five hundred followers right now when in five years you could have ten thousand?

Don’t worry about the analytics and the numbers. Just create, practice, improve, and share what you make.

That needs to be your main focus — becoming the best you can be.

Set a long-term goal and stick to it.

Written by

23. Tips on creativity, writing, and life. Get your free “Before-You-Publish” Checklist here →

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store