Don’t Lose Sight of Long-Term Goals

By Nikita Garia

Are your everyday tasks coming in the way of your long-term goals?Many of us have objectives we want to achieve after some time, like becoming a head of business, or setting up our own company. But often we get so absorbed in our daily jobs that we don’t go beyond ticking items off our daily to-do list,  leaving us little time to work toward our long-term goals.

If you find yourself in this situation, work on a strategy to change this. Here are seven tips to get you started:

1. ‘Now’ is the right time: Many of us waste precious time waiting for the ‘right time’ to start working toward our long-term goals. We often fear we don’t have enough experience or that we don’t have enough time to set more ambitious targets. “Procrastination is a trap,” says Charu Dewan, head of human resources at LeasePlan India Pvt., a vehicle leasing company. The moment you come up with your longer-term goals is also the best time to start acting on them, experts say. “Self-development is an investment not an expense,” says Aparna Ballakur, vice president of human resources at Yahoo! India.

2. Realistic and time-bound goals: Start with listing your goals, and no, wanting to become a billionaire by the time you are 40 does not count! Come up with feasible targets and work out a step-by-step strategy of how to get there.

“Goals are like destinations. The time it takes, the route, mode of transport, cost of fuel etc. have to be charted in advance,” says Dayanand Allapur, head of human resources at Tesco Hindustan Service Center, the global service arm of the U.K.-based retailer Tesco Plc.

It helps to set a time period by which you want to achieve your goals. Otherwise, they may lose relevance.

3. Link daily tasks with long-term goals: As much as possible, pair your everyday work with your longer-term vision.

For instance, if your aim is to become an entrepreneur, in your current job you should start paying more attention to all aspects of running a business. Periodically ask yourself: “Is there learning out of today that supports my goals of tomorrow?” says Tesco’s Mr. Allapur.

Or, if you ultimately want to teach management, then you can look out for specialized courses or  volunteer to take on more responsibilities in your daily working life. “Staying conscious of the many opportunities in the environment is half the battle won,” says Ms. Dewan of LeasePlan.

4. Time management: Better organizing your workday and your week, will give you more time to pursue some of your longer-term goals.

To manage your time for effectively, start by prioritizing your daily tasks and look for more tipshere. If you are a manager, empower your team-members to make decisions without your help. This will allow you more time to take care of your own career goals.

“Delegation, if used appropriately, can go a long way to help you manage time between short-term tasks and the long-term goals,” says P. Dwarakanath, the head of human resources at Max India Group, a financial and healthcare services firm.

To save time, you can read industry-related newsletters via email, attend webinars, or sign up for online training. “Make best use of technology to cover the distance to your destination faster,” says Sriharsha Achar, chief people officer at Apollo Munich Health Insurance Co.

5. Support System: Check if your organization offers facilities that could help you meet your goals. For instance, if you want to move laterally from finance to the sales department, your company might offer “cross-functional” training. Sign up for that.

Some organizations also offer assistance by allowing time off or providing financial assistance to employees who wish to acquire additional professional skills. Ms. Dewan of LeasePlan, for instance, takes guest lectures at management schools whenever the opportunity comes along.

Some experts suggest looking for a mentor, someone whose career path you would like to emulate, and ask them for advice. You need someone who can give good guidance and feedback along the way.

6. Check your progress: What gets measured usually gets done, so it’s a good idea to periodically review your progress. “Perhaps it will even redefine our goals,” says Mr. Allapur.

At Yahoo! India, all employees are encouraged to set personal development goals along with work goals, and these are reviewed every quarter, says Ms. Ballakur of Yahoo!

It can be tough to keep up your enthusiasm for goals that seem far away. If that happens, step back and think about why you wanted to do this. Ask yourself: “How do you want to be remembered?” says Ratna Singh, head of human resources at Pvt., a research-based services company.

7. Sabbatical: If you are at a stage where you feel you need to acquire more qualifications but simply do not have the time, consider taking a sabbatical, if your company allows it. “I have taken at least one break in my career to study when I have felt the need to develop myself,” says Dr. Achar of Apollo Munich.

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2 Responses to “Don’t Lose Sight of Long-Term Goals”
  1. Great tips!

    Goals are basically the building my task list on a daily level.

    I try to have at least something goal-related on my task list every day. In fact, I prioritize those tasks over other less relevant tasks, so that they get done.


  2. Harry Che says:

    You’re quite right, Timo. This also goes along with something Brian Tracy suggested, which is that you should do something on your goal, every day.

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