Long-term end goals are important, almost supremely so. They’re the driving force behind a successful life with purposeful direction. Who wouldn’t want that?
But, as high as we value the pursuit and attainment of our end goals, they’re only one piece of the success puzzle.
While our end goals give our lives purpose, the present moment is what gives our lives meaning. At the end of the day, all we are is a collection of momentary experiences, shared with the important people in our lives.
And it’s through those experiences that we derive meaningful memories that become the measuring sticks of our lives. Together, by placing equal focus on the end game and the present moment, they combine to create a life of true success.
But, as important as this combination is to our lives, it can be argued that the achievement of our long-term end goals are the most important, because by achieving your goals, you subsequently increase the value of the moment.
Vacations and travel get longer, for example, friends become more bountiful, and earnings increase. But again, our end goals are only important if they’re increasing our positive emotions in the present, which results in a feeling of deep meaning.
So, if our long-term goals are that important, but a meaningful life is gained through presence in the moment, how can we ensure that our end goals add to the present, and still make us successful in the long-run?
Below are five ways you can tell if your end goals are enhancing the present moment, and are therefore worth pursuing.
1. Hard work lets you enjoy relaxation
Have you ever tried to veg-out when you’ve had a string of unproductive days? How difficult is it to enjoy your favorite TV show, your favorite book, or your favorite restaurant, when you’ve been continuously unmotivated? Almost impossible, I know.
But relaxation, when built into your schedule correctly, is as important as hard work. It gives you a chance to recharge your batteries, recalibrate, and take a breath before jumping into your next project. Most important, it gives you a chance to appreciate how far you’ve come in achieving your goals.
If you work hard in pursuing your end goals, it should make your rest and relaxation feel rewarding. After a long, five day week, full of task completion and goal achievement, you deserve the opportunity to enjoy the leisure of the moment.
So, ensure that you don’t overwork or underwork yourself as you move in the direction of your goals. The work you put in should serve to increase the value of the time you take off, because you know you deserve it.
If the work needed to achieve your goals decreases the value of your leisure time, by over-stress or burnout, it might be time to realign your goals with your life.
2. “True North” gives your presence purpose
Long-term end goals give our lives direction. Everything you do, from the day-to-day to your yearly plans, should be moving you toward your goals. It’s this direction, or “True North” as I call it, that actually enhances the value of the present moment.
When you know you’re on the right path, and are confidently moving in the direction of your dreams, you’re able to more fully enjoy the present. You know that everything you’re doing – yes, even relaxation, is purposeful in moving yourself toward the achievement of your goals.
Your True North, pointing in the direction of your long-term goals, should give each day deep purpose, because, through the compound effects of daily incremental progress, you know you’ll be able to reach your end goals.
If your direction isn’t enhancing the present moment, chances are the direction you’re headed isn’t your True North and needs to be adjusted.
3. Step-by-step benefits your day-to-day
Speaking of the compound effect, where daily task completions compound to result in the completion of very lofty goals focus on day-to-day processes gives your life meaning.
Think about it this way: If you’re in the process of starting a side business, and you have to pick up the phone and make fifty sales calls, the act of making the fifty sales calls in itself has very little meaning. It’s a mundane, tedious task. But, when you know that the fifty sales calls are just a small step in the overall process of achieving your long-term goals, the step becomes incredibly meaningful.
You know that through the fifty sales calls, you’ll be able to sign a few clients, which will help your side business generate earnings, which will allow you to eventually quit your job – your ultimate end goal. So, the act of making the fifty phone calls, even in the moment, has deep meaning, because it’s a necessary step on your path to long-term success.
If the steps needed to achieve your goals don’t give you meaning in the day-to-day, it could be time to revisit your long-term goals, and more important, the reasoning behind why you want to achieve them. The process should always enhance the present.
“How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top.” – Yvon Choinard
4. Lofty goals make you feel “alive”
If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume that your long-term goals are lofty. So lofty, perhaps, that you aren’t sure if you can achieve them. Good! All goals should stretch your abilities, otherwise they wouldn’t be worthy goals.
If your goals are lofty, then it’s safe to say that they increase your feeling of “aliveness.”
Let me explain: When we have lofty goals, we’re trading the feeling of comfortability for the feeling of being alive. You may fail at your goal, you may succeed, or you may fall somewhere in between, but all your momentary triumphs and failures will most surely make you feel alive.
If you set your goal high enough, it will be the catalyst that causes you to jump out of bed in the morning, ready to take on the day. In this way, your end goals should directly make you feel alive in the moment, every day. If not, your goals are either too low or don’t resonate with your core self. If so, it’s time to reevaluate.
5. End goals increase the future’s present
Finally, and although I’ve been imploring you not to look too far down the line, the achievement of your long-term end goals, if set correctly, will enhance the future value of the present moment.
Bear with me: If you’re working for a job you dislike, and your goal is to build a location-independent business, the successful creation of that side business will literally change your life. You’ll have built yourself a lifestyle of freedom, and one that you truly enjoy.
Through the achievement of your end goal (or through the process of getting there), the time spent in the present moment becomes that much sweeter. Rather than sitting at your desk for eight hours, you decide to spend the day at a park, the beach, or at a local coffee shop. The value of that time spent, in relation to the time spent doing something you’re obligated to do, is much higher.
If your end goal doesn’t look like it’s going to enhance your future’s present, it’s time to shift focus.
“Have the end in mind and every day make sure you’re working towards it.” – Ryan Allis
It’s important to note that your long-term end goals should be enhancing the moment through each one of these five ways. If they’re lacking in any one of these areas, you need to take a deep look at your end goals and the “why” behind them.
Chances are, the goals you set aren’t the ones you truly want to – or should – achieve. If so, set another long-term goal, and test it against the five steps listed above.
If your long-term end goals DO enhance the moment through each one of these five ways, Congratulations! Continue on your path to a successful life, full of purpose and meaning.