The Thousand Mile Journey: Making Long-Term Goals Matter in Your Day-to-Day Life

I have a long term goal of publishing a novel. I’ve always enjoyed writing fiction, but I’ll often write short stories or novellas and find myself really dissatisfied with them, so I’ll toss them aside. I’ve written a few novel-length pieces too and felt the same way – I was just never happy with them.

Still, I hold onto that long-term goal. I want to achieve it. I’m willing to commit a lot of time to it. I just can’t quite make it happen.

The big reason is that the goal seems too big, too distant. I feel like my current writing is so far away from what I would need to make this work that it’s just… insurmountable.

I actually have a few giant goals like this that seem insurmountable. They feel so big and so far off in the distance that, on a given day, I really don’t feel like I can reach them.

When I spend too much time focusing on how huge those goals are, I don’t even try.

I used to feel this exact way about personal finance. Whenever I’d think about getting rid of all of my debts or building up wealth, it just seemed so far off and nebulous that I couldn’t really do anything about it.

So I didn’t, not for years and years until it became overwhelming.

Eventually, I reached a point where something had to change. I would wake up angry at the situation I’d put myself in and I’d force myself to make as many good choices as possible that day.

I felt so trapped. The only thing I could control was that day.

The amazing part? It worked. It’s the only thing that’s really ever worked. I’ve only really succeeded at things when I’ve focused solely on today and stopped caring about what’s down the road.

If I have this big goal, this big thing I want to achieve, what do I need to do today to make it happen? Or in the next few days? If I start looking at periods longer than a week or so, it starts looking foggy again and I find it easy to stop doing it.

Usually, I just focus on today. What can I do today?

During my financial turnaround, I focused solely on controlling my spending today. It was a success worth celebrating if I went through a day with absolute minimal spending (it still is, to tell the truth).

The thing is, every financial success I’ve had comes back to those tiny short-term goals. Achieving those little things over and over and over paid off all my debts and is helping us to build up healthy savings for the future. It enabled a career change and many other amazing things.

It all came down to making good decisions in a single day, being proud of it when I did it, and then doing it again the next day. Tiny goals, repeated over and over again. I rarely even looked at the big goal. Only the little goal mattered.

The instant I finish writing this post, I’m going to spend an hour or so writing fiction. I’m not going to worry about whether it’s good or bad. I’m just going to try to get this story in my head down on paper and see what it builds into. And then I’ll spend some time editing and trying to improve something I wrote a while back.

That’s success. It doesn’t matter whether or not it really turns into a bestselling novel. If I just keep writing, I’ll eventually get better. If I get better, I’ll eventually reach a point where I want to try to publish something.

Those things are just the inevitable follow-up from the success of today. I just need to sit down and write and then do some editing and revision.

What are you going to do today to make your big dream come true? What is the little tiny piece of it that you could achieve today?

Go do it right now. I’m going to.

Then do it again tomorrow, and the day after that.

I’m going to.

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