What Are Good Long Term Goals To Set? [5 Ways To Get Started]


If you follow many of are other blog post, you are probably familiar with how much we emphasis the importance of goal setting and how to effectively distinguish between short term and long-term goals. If you aren’t completely familiar, here’s a quick guide to get you started.  Today, we want our focus to be long term goals. What are good long-term goals? 

When it comes to long term goals, you are looking at a completely different time horizon for when you should expect to see results. Good long-term goals should consist of goals that are obtainable but also challenge you to become better and may even be slightly out of reach.  They should take time to accomplish and plenty of it.

The Long-Term Goal Time Horizon- What to Expect on The Journey

First and most importantly, keep in mind we are focused on the long-term meaty goals. These are the goals that take more than 12 months to complete.  Often these can even take 3-5 years or longer to reach.  It’s important anytime you do goal setting and life planning to have your expectations in check.

Magic doesn’t happen overnight. Never has and never will. There’s a good reason behind this. Long-term goals should be designed to be challenging and time consuming because of the massive rewards they can deliver when they are finally reached.

If you landed on this page and had something else in mind and knew in the back of your mind that your goal could be completed fast, then it’s possible you should be reading our post on short-term goals first.

If not, and you understand the time horizon and effort involved with long term goals than you are in the right place.

The Important of Long Term Goals and The Impact They Can Leave

Why are long-term goals so important and why do we need so much focus on them? First, because they are the true path to success and growth. That’s why they are challenging and take so long to achieve. Long-term goals are the goals that can truly leave a mark and make a huge impact on your life. Maybe it’s freedom financially and maybe it’s extending your life multiple years by achieving health related goals.

Regardless of the goal (which we will cover shortly), it’s important to understand the magnitude that long-term goals can have on life in so many various verticals. Now that we have that covered and out of the way, it’s time for a moment of self-reflection before diving in deeper.

What to Analyze Before Beginning Your Goals

Before beginning, it’s important, as you know from many of our post to find that “reason why”.  Without, goals vanish and turn into a lost dream quickly. Take a moment and self-reflect on why you are out to achieve these goals in the first place. Make it a strong reason. In addition, take a moment and think of what you know for a fact will hold you back.

We need to get rid of these road blocks and things that could be holding you back as early in the process as possible. That doesn’t mean to expect things to be easy but it does mean that the easy road blocks need put away and moved out of the path as easily as possible, so we can channel and target our focus in the right places. 

Now, it’s time to get you pumped up and excited.

A Moment of Motivation for You

First let’s drive you into the dirt for a moment and remind you of something that’s of huge importance. You’re going to fail. Many times. That’s the entire point. With long term goals if you are expecting zero failures along the way, you probably need to choose a goal more worthwhile. With weightlifting, people trying to build muscle don’t stop after ten successful reps on the bench press.

They stop at failure or the first time they can’t lift the next rep.  The point of failure is the point of growth. If you’re not hitting these benchmarks and failures, the rewards of your success will be very small, I can personally guarantee that.

Now, For the Good News with Long Term Goals

Once you have accepted that failure is on its way, you are properly prepared. The good news that comes with failure is that gains, and the journey are something to get extremely excited about. At first, the failures will bother you beyond belief. If you are committed and have that deep reason why behind the goals a funny thing happens.  You begin looking for the failures and when they happen, you get excited.

It’s almost a feeling of excitement like you checked a failure off the list so you can move on and can continue to dominate.  My key piece of motivation for you is that the growth begins immediately, crazy things will start happening for you and you will learn things you never thought were possible. It’s a crazy ride and worth every minute of the fight. 

Now, that we are pumped up, let’s cover some good areas to set long term goals. Especially for those of you who haven’t quite figured out where to begin. The hopes are that this post can serve as a building block and spark an idea for you to get moving in the right direction.  It doesn’t matter which area of the list you are beginning, it’s just important you start falling forward and start taking action.

Goal Zone #1-Career Goals

Career goals are very important and a top area to focus on. Not all of us want the self-employed path and have extremely bright futures moving up in our careers.  With career goals, it’s important to analyze what’s important and what exactly it is that you want. Are you trying to reach a certain dollar amount per year? Maybe your reaching for a promotion to a specific title or department within your company?

Whatever it may be, it’s important to figure that out first and get it down on paper. Let’s look at some more examples of career goals you can set.

Examples of Career Goals

Reach A Higher Professional Designation or Increase Overall Knowledge

Maybe this requires taking company sponsored courses and test. Maybe it requires getting a college degree.

Increase the Number in Your Bank Account

Nobody likes sticking around a job where they feel underpaid. A goal to increase earnings could be bonus based, yearly salary based, or performance based like many commission based jobs may carry.

Making A Difference Within Your Company- Get into Leadership Positions (Become the Boss)

Sometimes this will take extreme dedication and sometimes it’s easier than some people may realize. Regardless, striving to become the man or women in charge and running the show is never a bad goal to set out to achieve.

How Do I get Started?

It probably sounds cheesy and cliché but the best way to start planning career goals is to use the good old line we see on so many movies. “Where do you see yourself in 3 years? What about 5 Years? Take a minute to picture the scenarios and gauge what it will take to reach these goals. Will it require further education? Will it require working more hours? Maybe it just involves some good old fashion, “making friends in the right places”.

Whatever you picture it taking to reach one the goals mentioned above needs to be considered and put on paper. Once you have these steps it’s time to start the planning process and getting to work.

What Set Backs to Expect Along the Way

With career setting goals, there is two big things that pop out to me immediately.  These you can “take to the bank” because I know for certain they are 100% true. First, you need to realize that you aren’t the only person that rolled out of bed setting the same goals and wanting the same thing as you.

Many others at your job or company want the exact same thing and people will go to extreme lengths to derail your dreams or take shortcuts to beat you to the punch. Learn to weave around them and get the job done ethically. Secondly, it’s going to be backbreaking. It may be long hours, time away from the family and many employees chasing your tail on the path to success. Be prepared for these setbacks and you will be much better positioned to dominate and keep pushing forward.

Goal Zone #2-Self Employed- Business Goals

Sticking to the same theme as career goals, let’s pivot into the idea of not climbing over others to achieve success but to be at the top of the food chain from day 1. Don’t be confused here. This is equally as hard if not harder than taking the corporate career path direction. Self-employed goals are going to come with many challenges you didn’t expect.

Learning taxes, benefits and how to hire are just a few that come to mind. The victory can be the ultimate feeling in this area of goal setting so don’t be turned away by the few disclaimers mentioned. Let’s break down a few examples of what self-employed and owning your business goals may look like. Remember, we are looking at long term goals with these.

Examples of Self Employed and Business Goals

Simply Being Your Own Boss

Being your own boss is a goal of its own. It takes a crazy amount of discipline to learn to delegate your own task, stay focused and prioritize time. Don’t let this goal ever give the impression that it will be easy. It won’t be.

Exploring Freedom and Time with Your Family

A lot of small business owners or people seeking the dream of starting their own company does it because of the freedom involved.  It’s a nice, pleasing thought to think of no boss telling you what time to get to work or what to accomplish for the day.

Be leery however. Many people are more structured animals than you think and need this in their lives to cut it.  Learning to deal with the additional freedom and not over-using the freedom is a tough task to overcome and you will get beaten around a bit trying to figure this out on your own.

Launching Your Brand and Dream into Fruition

This is my favorite piece of the self-employed goal setting theme.  People who truly have a vision and something to show the world. If your goal is to launch the best blog possible because you have something to say and you’re ready to say it with some passion, voice and grit, then I commend you.

However, again, don’t be confused. It’s going to be tough along the way but if you fall into this category, most of the time you push through the challenges much faster than the average person trying to achieve these long-term goals.


Simply Not Failing Out Early On

This is under-estimated and 100% a great long-term goal. So many businesses fail so quickly that this should be a goal category of its own. Just survive and live your life on your terms. It’s extremely hard to be self-employed and do anything with it. Simply being a business or still having an operating revenue in years 3,4 and 5 is a great long-term goal to have. Just remember to be detailed and have a plan of action to reach this point.

How Do I get Started?

First, figure out which of the categories you fall into listed above. Then, began planning the business for launch and expect so many unexpected things to happen along the way. Detail out how you are going to provide for your family and what your channels of income will be. Set your milestones and long-term goals, get them on paper and start getting to work.

Sometimes it’s best to get this early planning out the way while keeping your 9-5-day job. We all need to slow down from time to time to stay out of harm’s way. Keep the dream alive. Continue to get pumped up excited and begin laying the foundational bricks to make the move soon.

What Set Backs to Expect Along the Way

Be prepared this is potentially one of the toughest goals to set. Many businesses fail early on after launch. Be prepared that you won’t know everything from the get go and embrace the failures and learn from them. Many are after the exact same thing as you, so competition will always be lurking. Once you change your attitude in this direction, the journey will become fun and full of learning and new adventures.

Goal Zone #3-Health and Fitness Goals

Health and fitness goals have always been a top area to set goals in. Whether it’s losing weight or getting in shape to run your first marathon, it’s still a worth area to set long term goals in. With long-term goals however, it’s important that you set a goal more difficult than just losing a few pounds. Maybe instead you set out to create a new lifestyle surrounded by healthy choices.

Examples of Health and Fitness Goals

Training for A Marathon

Training for a marathon would be great example of a long-term health and fitness goal. They require long training; a lot of dedication and a marathon is no easy feat.  It can take years to be in good enough shape to run your first one. Don’t stop there however, keep pushing to encourage yourself to get faster and better along the way.

Excelling at A Certain Sport

Excelling at a sport is also a heavy amount of time dedication. It can take years to master this craft. It doesn’t always have to be a common sport either. It could even be yoga.  Regardless, goals like this should be structured into a long-term set up.  The amount of improvements you will see over the years building out your goals in this manner will be shocking.

Building the Body, You Have Always Wanted

Maybe your long-term goal is even more broad.  It could just be a building the best body possible. Lifting weights, eating right and getting some cardio in on a long-term basis. In this scenario it’s important to keeping pushing and challenging yourself to achieve new milestones. This will help keep you motivated along the way.

How Do I get Started?

First, pick the area that you are passionate about improving. Having some passion towards your long-term goals always goes a long way toward achieving them. Then, get jacked up and motivated and begin building a routine and schedule that’s manageable. Maybe this is running 3 times a week and maybe it’s even less. The most important step is the first step and simply getting started.

What Set Backs to Expect Along the Way

With fitness goals you can always expect those tempting items to try and de-rail you. Maybe it’s a night out drinking with the buddies or the temptation to grab some fast food. Regardless what it is, you can surely expect for things to present themselves daily. Be willing to say no and push through the temptations to reach your goals on a long-term basis.

Goal Zone #4-The Bad Habit Goals

Bad habit goals are kind of funny in nature.  They are short term goals to get started but turn into long-term goals to stay away from. You need a big “reason why” and a lot of motivation to not only start these goals but more importantly, stack on track and avoid the bad habits for good.

Examples of Bad Habit Goals

Giving Up Tobacco

This one is probably one of the most popular new year’s resolutions and I would assume millions of people set out to achieve this goal. This is not a short-term fix. Stopping for 1 week doesn’t benefit anyone except your bank account temporarily. It’s not the quitting that’s the toughest, it’s the staying away from it for good that consistently de-rails and ruins this goal for the long term.

Giving Up Alcohol

Personally, I don’t even want to do this but know that I should. Now, keep in mind. I don’t drink in large quantities but at a nice sporting event or night out with some good buddies, I’ll toss a few back. Some of have a bigger habit to drop in this situation. Again, this is a long-term play. Having a few days, weeks or months of not drinking is great but ultimately the long-term goal needs to be making a change for the long haul and improving your health for the long term.

Giving Up Fast Food

Phew, perhaps one of the toughest things to do. It’s easy and gets the job done quick. Hell, it’s even cheap. Unfortunately, it’s also terrible for you.  Giving up a bad habit of hitting the drive thru every chance you get may sound somewhat easy now, but it won’t be forever.

How Do I get Started?

First, you need to evaluate what the problem really is and why you need to give it up. Whether it’s smoking, alcohol or event he fast food example, you must understand the benefits of actually following through with a goal like this or you will give up way too soon and way too easy.

Analyze the positive impacts eliminating this bad habit will create for you and devise an action plan of how you are going to begin. From there, simply just get moving and get started. That’s always the most important first step with goal setting. Get started.

What Set Backs to Expect Along the Way

A better way to word this, would be “what setbacks should you not expect along the way”? Given, the difficulty of these goals to sustain and maintain over the long haul, anything and everything will throw you off, tempt you or come close to shattering the goal all together. Expect temptations to be around 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Therefore, it’s so important to care and have a strong reason to feel the deep impacts of giving up these vices. Expect a chance of failure around every corner and be prepared to handle it mentally.

Goal Zone #5-Behavior and Self Discipline Goals

One of my favorites of goal setting by far.  Learning to alter behavior and become disciplined is not only a mystery to many, but impossible for the majority.  It’s such a huge game changer in every facet of life. These goals are imperative to learn to accomplish. They can impact relationships, careers, businesses and even your spiritual wellbeing.

Learning to discipline yourself to stop doing **** that’s not in your best interest is the key.  Get rid of the garbage and learn to change your state of mind into doing things that can only leave positive impacts and results on your life and you will be shocked at how far you can come.

Let’s look at some example for this form of goal setting.

Examples of Behavior and Self Discipline Goals

Waking Up Early

This one may be the most hated goal to set on the planet. The sound of that alarm is a hated sound by basically everyone. You know who doesn’t hate the sound of that alarm clock? Successful people. People who succeed learn to be excited for that buzzer to go off and once you reach this point, your probably won’t need the alarm to even be set anymore.

Once you reach a point of excitement and curiosity about what you’re doing you welcome that alarm clock sound or beat that alarm clock to the punch and spring out of bed before you even needed to. For others however, it’s extremely challenging. It’s extremely important to detail what exactly it is you plan to do when you wake up because if that alarm goes off and you have no direction or action plan for the day, it’s very easy for your tired mind to justify getting back in bed.

Know exactly what your hunting for the day, learn to use more hours in the day and start getting up earlier. Remember, getting up 2 hours earlier means you are probably 2 hours ahead of your competition. It’s amazing what doing this for a few years could do to pull you out ahead of the pack. Get to hunting and get out bed.

Learning Something New

Learning something new isn’t necessarily hard but it does take time and discipline to stay with it. Sometimes we get bored with what we wanted to learn and sometimes we just get to distracted. Set a long-term goal to learn something new over the course of several years. It will make you smarter, more marketable to others and you never know what off-road path it may lead you down.  Develop a new skill or open a book. It’s time to learn.

Developing Patience

Developing patience not only takes a long time but it takes a lot of dedication. It doesn’t happen overnight. We are a species that thinks everything is something to be immediate and if it’s not, we get upset and groan and moan about it.

Some things, that’s okay to have this attitude. Other’s it’s a huge flaw in your mindset and needs corrected. Great things take time and learning to develop patience and vision also takes time. Set a long-term goal to realize this and get better with waiting for the good things to show signs of development.

Rome wasn’t built in one day and you won’t be the first to do it. Trust me, many others have tried, and failure will ultimately be the destination. Keep grinding but remain patient. The good things are never as far away as you may think, and most people quit right before a breakthrough was about to occur. 

How Do I get Started?

Find your weakness in this area of goal setting. Are you sleeping in till noon? Are you constantly giving up before anything ever happens? Maybe you just can’t develop any new skills nor have the willingness to give it a shot? Whatever the weakness is, locate it and go after it. Get your ideas and action plan on paper and start attacking whatever area of life you have full intentions of improving.  Good things are in your horizon. Just get started.

What Set Backs to Expect Along the Way

With any of the goals in this category you can expect to fail, get annoyed and have the temptation to give up just about every day. You will snooze your alarm. You will give up on something you shouldn’t. You will fail to open a book. If these are long term goals you have the expectations of conquering, you need to realize that your brain will tell you to snooze that alarm. Trust me, everything sounds all great the night before when you set your alarm for 5am and say to yourself “man, I’m going to get so much done tomorrow” but guess what happens?

You go to bed all excited and ready to dominate. You fall asleep and when the alarm rings, your mind doesn’t remember that feeling from when you fell asleep. This is when staying focused and writing down your goals or finding clever ways to remind yourself why you are chasing the long-term goal in the first place will make all the difference in the world.

We all need reminded from time tot time. This doesn’t make you weak or terrible at goal setting or achieving goals. It makes you human. Try and prepare for the failures and embrace them instead of giving up when they happen, and you will be on your way to a brand new you way before you ever thought it was possible to achieve the goals.

When Are You Going to Set Your Long-Term Goals and Begin Achieving?

Regardless of which of these areas you believe deserves the immediate attention, it’s imperative to just get started. More goals are failed each day simply by never beginning. We have covered setbacks you may encounter and what to expect along the way. It won’t be easy and never claimed it would be but the results of achieving a long-term goal can be huge. 

Always keep those results and the feeling of the finish line in the back of your mind to keep you motivated and pushing through.  Eventually, you will have a breakthrough and your life will change for the better and become more enjoyable than you probably believed was possible.

So, what long term goals do you plan on setting after reading this? What’s your action plan and how are you going to stay motivated? Drop a comment below.

About the author

Joshua Martin