Ideas for Long-Term Project Goal Management
Do you have a 5-year plan? I don’t. I find planning for 5 years from now a little daunting to think about. But as I’ve gotten older, time seems to pass by incredibly fast. Somehow when I entered into my mid-30s and early 40s, the months started to speed by and the years blurred together. This has motivated me to re-think my need for some long term goal planning structure, and address my challenges with it. And hopefully, to set my self up for some success.
The first thing to I had to think about is how I wanted to record my goals: on paper, or on the computer. I’ll be honest, I have a mix of both.
I’ve created some spreadsheets and calendars that I save on my computer, and only refer to occasionally. But for my day-to-day and month-a-glance planning I use a spiral paper daily planner. And lists. I have lots of lists. I’ve tried various online apps, even the very popular ones like Evernote and Trello, and for me, they just ended up being more work to manage than they were worth.
My goal planning is also more project based than chronologically or linearly based. Because of this, I am able to somewhat pick and choose what I want to do when.
For example, a long-term goal of mine that I have yet to accomplish is reorganizing my craft closet. I have a lot of great crafting supplies I can’t easily access because they are in a piled mess in the closet. Once I get that system in place I will be able to do more of my crafting hobbies which I love. The challenge is that it is winter here right now, and I need to do some prep work of their storage drawers in the garage first. Because I don’t want to work in the cold, I’m putting off this goal until later this spring. I’ll work on other goals on my list instead. Goals that can be done in the warmth of my home. For example, catching up on the digital scanning of papers in our home office file cabinet.
I’m not a big believer in long-term planning and far-off goals. In fact, I generally set 3-month and 6-month dreamlines. The variables change too much and in-the-future distance becomes an excuse for postponing action. — Tim Ferriss
What makes my long-term goals nice is that they aren’t temporal. They can be long term without any severe consequences. That is also, however, what makes them challenging. I have to stay self-motivated to to get them done. And so that, is also where the plan comes in.
Being intentional with my time, and thinking in weeks, months and quarters— not just days, is where I have progress in accomplishing all of my goals. Both shorter term, and longer ones.
This is a system that works for me. And I share it because I hope it might be helpful to others. It’s true, I don’t have a “traditional 5-year plan” that includes major life milestones like opening a new business or moving across the country. I’m just not wired to think in those terms. And I’m fine with that. I’ve made it this far having faith in the journey of where life has taken me (and it’s taken me to some pretty incredible places), and so I’ll continue to have faith that the future will unfold similarly. I just want to be a little more productive a long the way.