Navigating Conflict Between Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

7 January 2023

By Linda Ferguson

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2023.

Whatever is going on in your life, today is the start of something. It’s just a page in the calendar, but it’s also the beginning of a season for the kind of hard work that makes change happen.

You’ll have two kinds of goals right from the start of 2023, and they will be competing for your time, attention and willpower. You’ll have short-term goals that are achievable. These allow you to practice taking action, build confidence and achieve worthwhile things. This is all useful in moving toward your long-term goals.

But it’s not sufficient. Your long-term goals will involve sacrificing some short-term gains. You will see achievable things in the short term and know that if you pursue them, you risk pushing your long-term goals to the side. Again. But working on long-term goals means sacrificing a sure thing now for something you might not reach in the future.

I’ve been doing this for the past few weeks. I have wanted to get another book written for a long time. Books are not economically sound (they are expensive to produce and unlikely to make money). They are also an unreliable way to motivate people to make change happen. And they are the best way I know to explore and explain complicated things. They’re my way to ensure that everything I teach fits together and fits the best available information.

The sacrifices necessary to get this book written include a few mistakes in the links I have posted for programs here and on the website. I’m sorry. I messed up. The links have all been corrected now, and the programs I have planned for this week are really good. If you can fit them into your schedule, you’ll be glad you did.

I can tell you that goals make your life better. I can also tell you that they force you to make choices. Those choices are easier with a good process supported by good people. Your challenge this week has two parts. The first is to connect with people who will help you make the hard choices as you work toward your own goals. And the second is to be present with someone who is making hard choices about how to set and pursue their own goals.

Long-term goals feed our purpose and identity. Short-term goals feed our motivation and habit formation. We need both, and we have to pursue them using the same motivation, time and willpower. As you begin this new season, take a good look at what you want next. Be prepared to make some trade-offs. And then get started.

You have to take action to make change happen.

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