Bring Your Future Into the Present:
Integrating Short and Long-Term Goals
by Leslie Godwin, MFCC
Do you feel that you should pursue your calling, but you have bills to pay,
family responsibilities, and other day-to-day concerns that don't allow you to
stop everything to do so...even if you knew what you're called to do?
So, how do you take care of your immediate needs without letting go of a
meaningful future? And how can working little by little toward your future make
your DAILY life more meaningful?
I believe that having BOTH a short-term plan for day-to-day needs AND a
long-term plan to accomplish what you really care about, is the answer. The
trick is to break your long-term plan into small pieces which you can integrate
into your daily schedule.
The Short Term:
Having a short-term plan is critical when you have bills to pay because it
allows you to be productive while you're planning for a more meaningful future.
If you're searching for your calling, a short-term plan will include a 'day job'
that pays the bills so you don't have to figure out what you should be doing
with your life by the end of the month so you can pay the mortgage.
Integrate the Long-Term:
Working toward your long-term plan every day gives meaning to those daily
activities. It's also important to build momentum toward that long-term plan so
you feel PULLED by it as it becomes more real every day. The more you feel
pulled toward your calling, the less you'll have to push, and pushing is much
Here are some tips that might be useful as you clarify your long-range goals
and plans, and take care of current responsibilities.
1. Make long-term planning a PRIORITY.
Recently, I wrote about how hard it is to stay focused on "Important but
Non-Urgent" aspects of our life, to use Steven Covey's term. All planning based
on our values falls into this category. We're usually busy with "Urgent but Not
Important" items, like ringing phones, email, and requests from others. It's
easy to postpone planning the most important aspects of our lives until we are
no longer living our lives "on purpose."
2. Fit long-term planning into your DAILY LIFE.
Set aside a little time on a regular basis. Don't wait until you have lots
of time. Squeeze it in whenever you have a half an hour. You'll create momentum,
and get more done this way.
A client of mine, Terry, is making a dramatic career change from doing
website design to being a massage therapist. She needs to inquire about training
programs and create a network to find out what it's really like to do this kind
of work, what schools have the best programs, and how to eventually get
referrals and start a practice.
She's managed to carve out half an hour during her work day to pursue her new
career. So each day she sends off a couple of emails, makes a phone call or two,
or does some reading.
"I was concerned at first that using my lunch hour to do my coaching homework
would make me more stressed out," Terry told me recently. "But I feel more
enthusiastic now that I see I'm getting somewhere. Every day I'm doing something
that gets me closer to my dream of being a massage therapist, and I really think
I'm going to be able to do it."
3. Remind yourself frequently WHY you care about your long-term plans.
The hardest time in any career transition is the first few months. If you're
like many people I talk to in transition:
- you have an idea which you've avoided acting on for a long time
- you don't have a track record (or it's limited) doing what you dream about
- you may doubt whether what you dream about will ever become a reality.
In other words, you've got a vague idea of a road ahead, and lots of
roadblocks. That makes for a bumpy ride.
By reminding yourself why you care about your dream you'll strengthen your
connection to it, and refresh your motivation to get there.
Once you start taking the small steps I'm describing, you'll discover more
and more reasons why your dream is worthy, and you'll see your dream evolve in
ways you couldn't have anticipated.
4. Spend time with people who are doing what they love.
This implies that you should STOP spending time with people who aren't doing
what they love and aren't taking action to make their lives better. And whatever
you do, stop hanging out with people who do nothing but complain about how much
they hate what they're doing! This is just deadly to your fulfilling your
People like this have a gravitational force field of negativity around them.
If you are feeling down, there may be a certain "misery loves company" kind of
comfort to be found among these types. But once that gets depressing, you'll
find yourself sinking further into despair that nothing is going to change in
Please think about who you spend time with and how you feel when you're with
them, as well as how you feel AFTER you've spent time with them. Are you more
motivated to pursue your dreams? Or less motivated? Are you inspired? Or
discouraged? Hopeful? Or cynical? Consciously decide to spend more time with
those who leave you feeling inspired. And do your best to support others as they
pursue their dreams.
To Sum Up:
It's easy to get lost in the daily details of life. It's also easy to keep
our dreams safely in the future, not spoiling their perfection by acting on
The key to living based on your calling in each moment is to bring your
future plans into the present little by little. Doing bits and pieces of your
long-term plans, with the overall map in mind, will bring you closer to your
calling being part of your daily life.
Leslie Godwin, MFCC is a Career & Life-Transition Coach,
Writer, and Speaker. She publishes a free email newsletter on career and life
transition. For information, email
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