Why Having Year Long Goals Doesn’t Work


Humans are wonderful at starting projects that never get finished. We fantasize grand, lofty goals but once we start climbing the mountain of the magnificent goal we desire to conquer we stop and stare in awe at how far we have to go. We’re aware of the inevitable obstacles and momentary struggles. We realize it’s much easier to stop, turn around, and continue on the smooth path we were traveling.

Such is the case with year long goals. And having a year long goal can be a terrible idea.

Have you set a year long goal (in the typical manner of a New Year’s resolution) before? Did you actually achieve it?

One of the main reasons people abandon New Year’s resolutions is because the time frame is so long. I mean, an entire year? That’s, you know, a year. Three hundred and sixty five days. Hell, three hundred and sixty six during a leap year. That’s an incredibly daunting length of time.

Another colossal issue with year long goals is that you don’t have much, if any, flexibility. What if your circumstances or desires change? What if you determine you want to pursue something else instead? You would likely feel like a failure for stopping or changing course.

If year long goals are a problem, what then is an effective solution?

The Solution: Short-Term Focus

Get hyper-focused on the short-term.

Forget about what goals you want to achieve, how you want to look, or where you want to be a year from now. Tunnel your vision until the only thing you can focus on is the short-term. Have a general direction you want to go, and then hyper-focus.

  • What would you like to achieve this month?
  • What can you do this week?
  • Better still: What can you do today?

(Notice that crucial two letter word: do. You must do something, consistently.)

Ditch ineffective year long resolutions and instead focus on monthly, weekly, and daily actions you can take.

Example for someone who wants to lose weight: move your body every day. This can include two to three strength training workouts per week and 20-40 minutes of a fun activity (or simply a walk) on all other days. This way you have a daily goal (do something every day) and weekly goal (2-3 strength training workouts) to track. This is short-term focus in action.

Another example. At the risk of being banal and cliche, break any task down into simpler components. Have a large project at work? Don’t focus on completing the entire project. Ask yourself, “What is the most important thing I can do today to get this moving forward?” Then do it. And repeat the process tomorrow.

This exercise can work beautifully with anything you want to accomplish. The next time you’re faced with a massive task, try it for yourself and experience the results.

Ditch the long-term focus and embrace the power, simplicity, and stress-reducing benefits of hyper-focusing.

Focus on what needs to be done in the short-term.

Take action, build momentum and motivation.

And forget about perfection; that’s a snare that will quickly halt your progress.

Remain hyper-focused on the short-term. If at any point you want to veer in a different direction or change course entirely, do it. Refocus on what you need to do today, and this week, to go in the right direction on the new path.

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