Anyone who has goals is aware that achieving them is not something that often happens overnight. Any goal that’s dear to your heart or worth pursuing is going to take time to materialize; sometimes it takes a long time, even with focus and determination. (Never mind having all of life’s little complications getting in the way from time to time too!)

Since reaching your goals can involve efforts that last for months or years, short-term sacrifices are often seen as a necessity in order to free up enough space in your life to ensure that you accomplish them. However, feeling like you are sacrificing the immediate moment for a longer-term payoff can be challenging.

Even if you are a highly focused individual who doesn’t have too much trouble with delaying satisfaction, putting off today’s gratification can leave one feeling short-changed, even rigid. After all, what’s the point on focusing into the future if you can’t manage to enjoy the journey getting there?

The key is to ensure you look at all the ways you are spending your time now, and deciding which activities are of greater importance. Then, for the activities you are desginating a lower importance, weighing out the consequences will be if you reduce time on them or cut them out altogether. This weighting of importance will help ensure you build some flexibility into your schedule in order to take time to “smell the roses” along the way. After all, every decision like this does come with pros and cons.

Here is a helpful list of questions to ask yourself to help determine if short-term sacrifices are going to end up creating much larger problems down the road:

  1. Create a list of all of the short-term items you might need to reduce or abstain from while you are striving towards a long-term goal. Take time and really brainstorm thi sin order to try to be complete.
  2. On that list, mark whether or not you would need to reduce or abstain, and whether or not giving up these things will be temporary or permanent.
  3. For all of the longer-term goals that would appear to involve a permanent short-term sacrifice (goals for example such as focusing on sobriety or deciding you would have to move to a new city for your career) consider what you will do to help support you in making those decisions. These types of decisions often involve big life changes, and coaching can help you create a path towards putting supports in place for strength and motivation.
  4. Next, evaluate each short-term sacrifice individually. Ask yourself how much it would affect your quality of life to give up a short-term pleasure in order to achieve your longer-term goals. For example, if losing weight is your longer-term goal, and you love having a big bowl of ice cream every night, how much does the pleasure of that bowl of ice cream mean to you? Will you need to completely give ice cream up? Is there a way you could successfully keep it in your life (eat only 1/2 a cup, eat some on weekends as a treat etc) when it is something you love? As another example, if part of your long-term goal involves finding time or money to accomplish that goal, will it mean giving up dinners out or nights at the movies for a year? Think about how to support yourself when you make these types of reductions, to remind yourself why you decided to make these choices.
  5. Remember that these are choices – they are not carved in stone. If one night you eat a big bowl of ice cream, it’s not the end of the world. Remind yourself that you’re human and start again to work towards your longer-term choices tomorrow.
  6. To help support these new habits, make sure you incorporate a series of rewards into your new systems, especially the things you are temporarily restricting or giving up. If you would typically go out to the movies weekly, and have reduced this to save money or increase time, treat yourself to a night out when you’ve been able to focus successfully. Even if things aren’t going smoothly, new habits take time to find a flow, so be gentle with yourself when things seem challenging.

As your life coach, I can help you work through a series of goal-setting exercises to use these tips to your advantage. Be in touch and I will be happy to schedule a chemistry call to explore this and more! 

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