Having a goal to work towards is so important, I cannot stress it enough. Goals are what keep people motivated to survive. Think about it, if you did not have a goal (even teeny-tiny ones), what would you be doing right now? Nothing, you’d probably be doing nothing. You wouldn’t need to do anything. You wouldn’t be motivated to.
When it comes to making a long-term goal, we are often discouraged by a goal that is too broad, seems to have no purpose or no roadmap. This post is meant to provide a step-by-step process for creating a do-able long-term goal.
Everyone has their own unique concept of goal-making. Some people write a daily checklist or to-do list, and others have long-term dreams. Even if we don’t notice or realize it, goals exist everywhere.
You go to the grocery store and your goal is to get groceries, maybe you have a list, maybe you are winging it—either way, it’s a goal! You go to school, your goal is to get an education, or maybe to make friends. When you lay around the house all day and your goal might be to relax after a hard week—maybe the goal is to do nothing. There is a goal motivating everything that we do.
The Makings of a Goal
There are several components to a well-written and doable long-term goal. First, you must understand what the goal is. Next, identify the purpose of your goal. Then, identify several step-ladder goals. And finally, do it!
Recognize Your Goal
To create a quality goal, you must first know exactly what you want the outcome to be. This is essentially your goal. For example, my goal is to get a Master’s degree in clinical mental health.
Your goal can be as specific or as broad as you would like it. All that is required for this step is to know the desired outcome and to write it down.
Identify Your Goal’s Purpose
Now that you have identified your goal, you need to know why that is your goal. This is called the purpose. A goal’s purpose influences how the goal is created and accomplished. The purpose is also the factor that motivates you to achieve your goal.
The purpose of my goal (getting a Master’s degree), is to be able to work as a counselor. An alternative purpose could be to further my education.
Whatever the purpose of your goal is, identify it and write it down.
Creating Specific Step-Ladder Goals
The final step to creating an effective long-term goal is to come up with a list of smaller goals or step-ladder goals. Step-ladder goals are meant to make the main goal seem less overwhelming and more doable.
To complete my long-term goal of getting a graduate degree, I must first complete other smaller goals. My step-ladder goals include getting into graduate school, completing my required courses, completing my practicum, completing my internship, and completing the necessary requirements for state licensure.
For the alternative purpose (furthering my education), I have different step ladder goals. These might include taking a variety of courses, building a good professional relationship with two faculty members, getting involved in at least one club, and participating in at least one research study.
Generally, step-ladder goals are very specific and include more detail than my simplified example lists. These goals are meant to make your life easier and to provide a step-by-step process to complete your main goal.
It is important to remember that you may not know every detail for each step-ladder goal right away. Sometimes other steps must be achieved before others can be identified. For my example, details to most of the goals cannot be specified until I have chosen a graduate program. Once I have chosen a graduate program, I will input the nitty-gritty details into my list.
It is also important to recognize that these steps are not set in stone. Life happens and things change, so cut yourself some slack. If you get working towards your goal and realize that one of your step-ladder goals aren’t helpful or that something else would be more valuable, then change it!
Implement Your Step-Ladder Goals
It is one thing to have your goals written down, but it is an entirely different thing to actually do them. I can provide you with a nice organized PDF to help you organize this information, but I cannot motivate you to go through with it. That is up to you and you are more than capable of doing it!
Just remember to write it down, make it realistic, and be specific.