Everyone approaches goal setting differently, but the perspective one enters this process with can directly affect their happiness, progress and motivation along the way. A short term goal takes an entirely different stance than a long term objective, but our mindset can determine whether we are content throughout this progression.
First, for obvious reasons, long term goals are much tougher to maintain motivation for. The longer the timeline for completion, the harder it is for us to track tangible progress towards the desired end result. A more granular itemization of incremental accomplishments towards a greater goal can allow for periodic self-appreciation to instill a feeling of progress. Personally recognizing and celebrating your incremental achievements act as fuel to the fire of your desire to continue moving forward towards your goal.
Next, it is important to be aware of your mental and emotional state as you tackle a large project. Tracking your progress by itemizing your milestones and personally celebrating them can help maintain motivation and monitor your advancement towards your goal, but it doesn’t address your happiness throughout that timeline. Much of what you hear from people regarding goal setting focuses on the text above, but our mentality is just as large a variable. I like to use a metaphor to explain this idea: think of driving your car from point A to point B. The first scenario let’s say we know where point B is. We can easily track our progress to ‘point B’ internally and evaluate our progress. Obstacles like traffic, accidents, construction, detours, etc all affect our progress towards point B. However, these variables are largely out of our personal control, so we have two options. Anxiety and stress are variables that permeate most people in these scenarios, but if we focus on what we can control, and put on the ‘horse blinders’ we can minimize much unnecessary stress/anxiety. Furthermore, if we can develop a personal perspective that these obstacles have a decent chance of presenting themselves each time we make our way to point B, we no longer see them negatively, but just a part of the scenery. Instead, focusing on the sunset, the beautiful Tucson mountains, the cool night breeze of the desert flowing through your car, the clean air as you move through a city you love, towards your destination, it can drastically change your mental/emotional well-being while achieving the same end goal.
In scenario 2 point B is a variable, or unknown, and it becomes much more difficult to stay motivated. Many of us do not have a long term goal yet, or we know generically what we’d like to do, but not specifically. Since it’s impossible to track your progress towards a variable goal (1/x) we must work to find goals in the interim while we ponder what that long term goal might be. For example, if you love psychology, but work at Walmart, you can still compile realistic goals to help you feel that tangible progress is being made towards this vision. Serving as a mentor to family/friends, personal study, taking courses at a JUCO, job shadowing or internship pursuance are all viable options for that person.
The beauty of life is that we can make our own timeline for these events. Our desires and passions are all so unique, we don’t always have a benchmark to refer to for help. Make your own benchmark. Find motivation in yourself in believing you have your entire life to decide what your contribution will be. If you cannot enjoy the process, you will not enjoy the result; do not kid yourself. Drink in all of the amazing experiences and use your positivity to build the relationships you need to advances your passion. Obstacles are expected, but if you aren’t moving past them, you are becoming one.