Not to be dramatic, but long-term goals have saved my life.
Ok, that’s totally dramatic, but let me explain.
This year, I made the decision to better myself. To stop thinking and daydreaming about a fantasy version of myself and finally become that person. I made the decision to stop making it a someday goal – as in, some day I would just wake up and that’s who I’d be, and that’s the life I’d be living – and figure out how to actually get it done, and commit to taking those steps.
Sounds like something I should have done a long time ago, right? But life gets in the way. You focus on getting a good job and feeding your family and cooking dinner and doing laundry and making sure your hair doesn’t look ridiculous and all your dreams of who you wanted to be end up slowly – very slowly, so slowly that you barely even notice it – falling to the wayside.
It happens. In a lot of ways, losing focus is unavoidable and I believe it’s something that we should forgive ourselves for. We all have periods of our lives where we have to focus on just getting by, on surviving – it’s cute to think, ‘Oh I’m gonna go hard 24/7’ but you gotta eat, too (this goes double for those of us who have other people depending on us). That’s reality.
But now that I’m at a more comfortable place (as in, I’m not as worried about being able to eat every day), I’m working on bettering myself and my life in a multitude of ways. The list is so long, it really should be intimidating to me, but it isn’t. And the reason for that? I have learned to love long-term goals because thanks to ’em, I’m making more progress – and staying more motivated – than ever before.
This year, I’m blogging more (I’m not perfect but I really am working on sticking to a posting schedule, guys, I really am). I’m writing more, and have successfully removed some of the pressure that immobilized me at my keyboard before and have instead found the fun in it again. I know, deep down, that this will be the year where I finally finish my first novel, because for the first time in a long time I’m spending more time having fun writing it than I am doubting myself. Writing fiction is what I’ve always loved to do it, and when I’m doing it, I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, if that makes sense. As long as I can protect that feeling, I’m golden.
I’m also focusing on being healthier. Eating right and exercising used to be a major ‘some day’ goal, but it’s steadily becoming an integral part of my life, and I’ve never felt better. In a similar vein, I’m working on prioritizing my relationship with God and growing spiritually, because what would be the point in getting your body healthy and ignoring your spirit? We live in a world full of negativity and toxicity, and getting to hear a good message and fellowship a bit, at least on a weekly basis, keeps me inspired and on the right path.
So what do these things mean, on a daily basis? When I have free time – even just a few minutes – I think about where I will be in a year if I spend those few minutes browsing Pinterest, versus where I’ll be in a year if I spend it writing, even just a little bit.
When it comes time to eat (or plan my meals, or grocery shop), I think before choosing. I think about where I eventually want to be (fit enough to be a vigilante superhero, in case you’re wondering) and I make the decision that gets me closer.
The thing about long-term goals is that falling off for one moment or one day won’t break you, but a series of days where you stick to it can and will make you. If I choose not to write – and I have sometimes, because you’ve gotta give yourself time to recharge – it’s not the end of the world, as long as I’m saying yes more than I’m saying no. I know you’ve heard all the quotes about sprints versus marathons but that’s because it’s true. I need to be able to say no sometimes so that I have the mental energy to say yes later.
For me, this isn’t the year of ‘I’m gonna do this, that, and the third,’ and go hard for like a few weeks before I burn out. This is the year I’m doing everything, and this is how I’ve been getting a little closer, each and every day.
If you mess up, yeah it sucks, but guess what? There’s always tomorrow (as long as there’s not a zombie apocalypse or whatever). Tomorrow you can exercise more. Write more. Do more.
It’s not over yet. You still have so many chances to make a difference, to change your life, and if you focus on the day by day – making the best decisions that can help get you where you want to be – then you will succeed. As long as you treat every day like a second chance, you will get to where you’re going eventually. And for a perpetual backsliding, I’ll-do-it-tomorrow-er like me, there’s nothing more valuable than second chances.
Long term goals can seem scary, but they’re the best things you can have. Stop thinking that things are impossible and look at today. Can you make one healthy meal? Can you write a few words? Can you read your bible, or take a walk?
If the answer is yes, then you’re already half way there. And if today the answer happens to be no because you’re too tired, or drained, or sad, then forgive yourself instead of demonizing yourself for being human. Just keep saying yes – just keep making the good decision more often than you don’t.
You can do this. One step – one meal, one word, one afternoon, one ‘yes’ – at a time.
What long-term goals are you working on? What keeps you motivated? I wanna hear about it!