The road to success is paved with goals. If you want to achieve anything you already have goals, but are they contributing to your success? Setting good goals is a great way to make sure you’re on the right track. They help you organize your thoughts and break them down into achievable actions.
Goals have three levels of complexity: long-term, intermediate and small. There should be a natural progression from one level of complexity to the next until you reach that main long-term goal.
1. Flexible Longterm Goals
A good long-term goal is general enough to be flexible and change with your life and interests, but specific enough to make it easy to define the steps that need to be taken to achieve it. They have to be flexible or you might find yourself achieving a goal you stopped caring about two years ago. If they’re too general, you could be unable to find a way to get there because you haven’t defined what you’re looking for.
A flexible long-term goal is simple, but descriptive enough to have easily definable steps that lead to them. For example, if your long-term goal is to “write a bestseller”, a better and more flexible long-term goal might be to “write a popular novel”. It’s general enough to allow for changes in the implementation, but specific enough to have obvious steps that lead there.
2. Intermediate “Milestone” Goals
Intermediate goals are goals that have multiple stages that lead to your long-term goal. They are milestones, events which mark a new stage in your journey to success. In the novel-writing example above, some good intermediate goals might be to read some bestsellers, write longer stories and find ideas for a novel. These intermediate goals can be broken down even more into the most useful type of goal, small achievable goals.
3. Small Achievable Goals
An achievable goal usually isn’t seen as a goal at all. It’s a task that you can do fairly easily. If you’re thirsty some goals might be to get a glass, fill it with water and drink the water. Three simple goals which, when completed in succession, achieve a larger intermediate goal. Looking back at the novel example, to achieve the first intermediate goal of “reading some bestsellers”, the short-term goals might be to list three bestsellers you find interesting, read the first book on that list, list five points you like about the plot and list five characters you like. These are all very short goals that are easy to understand and do.
Setting goals is the most important thing you can do if you want to achieve something. Just by wanting to achieve something you have already set a goal for yourself. Goals have three types: long-term, intermediate and small. As you travel the road to achieving your long-term goal, it and the other goals that lead to it may change. It is important to keep your goals flexible, but clearly defined and achievable at their lowest level.