If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things. – Albert Einstein

long goal

People who maintain focus on long-­term goals can achieve much bigger things in life. It makes perfect sense to think long term. But how, especially when you have to contend with everyday distractions and so many other urgent tasks? Focus, that’s how.

Focus is your ability to centre your attention and energy on a specific task, object, or activity, for a sustained length of time. It’s often quite simple to focus on short-­term tasks and goals, because you see results quickly. However, it’s much more difficult to focus on goals that might take months, years or decades to realize without focus.

It is also difficult to recognize and measure progress on longer ­term goals, which means it’s easy to get distracted. That’s why the ability to focus in the long term is a key skill for anyone who wants to be successful. Use the strategies below to build the motivation, focus and persistence you need to achieve your long-­term objectives.

Set goals that mean something

Your long-­term goals might take years to complete. Can you imagine putting all of that time and energy into something you weren’t passionate about? This is why it’s important to align your long­-term goals with your values and your dreams. Do your goals excite you enough to pursue them in the months or years? If not, take these goals off the list and find goals that matter to you. It takes passion and a strong sense of purpose to stay focused on long-­term goals, so make sure that these things are in place before you begin.

Set written goals

Word them in a way that communicates why they are important to you, and put them in a place where you’ll see them regularly. For example, you could write them on index cards and keep them in your wallet or purse, or print them on a sheet of paper and tack it up beside your workstation. Then, set a reminder to spend a few minutes every day visually focussing on your goals.

Remember to self-regulate

Self-regulation is the ability to control your emotions and impulses and is the single most important factor in achieving long­-term goals. To develop it, work on your self-­discipline . There will be times when your goal feels out of reach, or when you want to give up. Self-­discipline pushes you to keep going, in spite of the odds. People who have an internal locus of control believe that they’re responsible for their own success and succeed.

Long-term goals need time

To achieve your long-­term goals and stay focused on them, you need to work on them regularly. Use lists to help you keep track of goals and motivated. This helps you start developing the habits needed to make your goal a reality. These might include waking up early, reading business books, or dedicating time every day to work on activities that contribute to your goals.

Stay the course

How many times have you started work on a long­term goal with the best intentions, only to find, a few weeks later, that you’ve lost focus because you’ve started working on a new goal? Avoid this by keeping a record of what you do and how they affect your long term goals. This prevents you from changing direction impulsively and overcome setbacks.

Progress points

You might achieve your long-­term goals years or even decades in the future. This is why it’s important to recognize and celebrate the small steps you take along the way. Every day, take a few minutes to look at your progress towards your goal, and pat yourself on the back for what you’ve done. For bigger milestones, reward yourself with something significant. Research shows that it’s easier to stay motivated if you see your goals as an opportunity to learn something new, rather than as a means of doing something.

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