Eyes on the prize 👀🏆: Effective strategies that will help you fulfil your long term goals

05 September 2021
Eyes on the prize 👀🏆:      
Effective strategies that will help    
you fulfil your long term goals

We often fantasize about what it would be like if we were millionaires. No matter what our current circumstances may be, humans are ultimately optimistic. We like to think about a warm fuzzy future where things eventually turn out to be alright :)

And while that’s great, a study conducted by Standard Chartered unfortunately outlines the stark reality. The study states that among India’s urban youth only less than 20% will actually end up fulfilling their long term goals realistically. It seems that when it comes to long term goals there is a huge gap between what we want and what we actually end up achieving.

Long term goals are any needs, wants and aspirations you would like to achieve in 5 years and beyond.

It's not you...
It's human nature

Why we love procrastinating on long term tasks

Before we beat ourselves up about not staying true to our goals, let us tell you that this isn’t a ‘YOU’ problem. Studies find that human beings are inherently susceptible to the cognitive bias of ‘The Current Moment Fallacy’ or ‘The Hyperbolic Discounting Factor’ wherein we tend to prefer immediate pay-offs over long-term gains.

When faced with vague and in-concrete decision making such as that required for achieving your long term goals, the overwhelmingness of it, our fear to start or to fail, makes us procrastinate and put off actually executing plans we might already have.

“Cognitive tunnelling can cause people to lose their ability to drive focus, instead latching on to the easiest most obvious stimulus, often at the cost of common sense.”
- David Strayer, Cognitive Scientist, University of Utah

Since actions in the present are going to show immediate results (as opposed to the uncertainty of the future), we often tend to overlook them until it's too late.

How do I stop my brain from screwing me over?

5 steps that reverse cognitive tunnelling

1. List your long term goals out as ‘Need to haves’, ‘Like to haves’ and ‘Want to haves’

The truth of the matter is that visualising your long term goals isn’t enough, writing them down on paper or on screen- usually as simple broken down tasks, helps solidify your long term goals as actionable items.

Regularly revisiting and being reminded of your goals is the first step towards registering them as ACHIEVABLE.

2. Use WOOP to quantify your dreams into actionable steps

“You must ask what is in me that stands in the way of my imagined positive outcome”  -Dr. Gabriele Oettingen

According to studies conducted by NYU professor Dr. Oettingen, our wishful thinking  can actually stunt us from making executable decisions about the future because the warm fuzzy feeling we get when we dream about a positive outcome can often trick our mind into believing we’ve already achieved what we set out for.

To combat this, she developed a strategy known as WOOP, wherein you ask yourself these fundamental questions whenever you think about your long term goals.

W- Wish- What exactly do I want

O- Outcome- What would be the outcome of achieving this wish

O- Obstacles- What will get in the way of achieving this dream

P- Plan- How will I work through these obstacles

In short, instead of only dreaming about your goals, make it a habit to note your goals down and devise a WOOP strategy for each of them.

3. Assess whether your current investment strategy works for you

We’ve all heard the virtues of diversifying our investments but what  is equally important is that your portfolio reflects your short-term, mid-term and long-term goals and requirements.

Of course this  will depend on your risk tolerance and unique investing style as well as account for the type of instruments you choose to make investments with in the first place.

When it comes to your long-term goals, your portfolio and its aggressiveness must include asset classes that factor in how far away you are from achieving your goals and needing that money.

4. Evaluate all avenues and channels of income

We often plan for the future with the present in mind, i.e. to say we often tend to overlook what our situation may be in the years to come and how our strategy to achieve our long-term goals will also vary in regards to this.

For instance you may be working in a sector where you get guaranteed pay increments, or you might be thinking of generating future sources of passive income.

And while you always must review and update your strategy, at least annually - keeping such variables in mind may help you to stay prepared for the change.

5. Make your Long term goals something you truly believe in

You will never be motivated to work towards any long-term goal you don’t truly believe in. If you believe in equal wealth distribution and are passionate about solving homelessness in your city, a luxury penthouse might not be something you dream about.

It is important that your long term goals reflect your ideas and core values and that they don’t just satisfy a financial, but a larger need too.

For example, a comfortable retirement will not only fulfil a financial need  but also a need for stability and independence in the future.

Similarly you could have many such needs like : the need for achievement (career-wise), for recognition, for autonomy or acquiring knowledge or practicing compassion.

A holistic and well-rounded long term plan would include all aspects that you believe are essential for a good life!

Some long term goals
you can set for yourself

Now that you know how to create a sustainable plan, here’s some things you may wanna look forward to:

  • Saving for retirement
  • Owning your own property
  • Eliminating debt
  • Saving for your children’s future
  • Generate alternate income avenues

If any one of these is truly something you are working towards long term, click them to find out a step by step guide on the essential ‘need to knows’ about achieving the goal.