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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Set Long- and Short-Term Goals

I hate stairs.

When I was younger (and slimmer!) I used to bounce up them without a thought.

Now it's trudge, trudge, trudge.

I live on the third floor of a building with no elevator. Since the stairs take a turn between floors, there are four landings in total. When things are especially tough, like when I'm carrying groceries, I like to celebrate "little victories" by counting the landings. "One-fourth," I say to myself, and "Half-way."

The landings are my short-term goals; my floor (and my room) are my long-term goal.

Clumsy metaphor, yes, but I think it will do.

There are lots of proverbs to illustrate the benefits of short-term focus: "One day at a time," and "Small steps," or "Inch by inch, it's a cinch."

But all of these presume that the days, steps, and inches add up to something bigger. We need to be careful that, in focusing on the short-term goals, we don't forget "the big picture." That would be like me settling in on one of the landings before reaching my floor. The long-term goal must drive us on.

As James Cash Penney (you may have shopped in stores bearing his name) said, "Long-range goals keep you from being frustrated by short-term failures." If I stumble on a step, I keep going, because at the top of the stairs is home.

So take some time to clarify your long-term goals. Then, break the process down into manageable steps, and celebrate the little victories along the way. Next thing you know, you'll be there.

And you'll be happier.

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