Why I don’t have long-term goals anymoreBy Randell Tiongson on March 1st, 2022
Decades ago, I was a big fan of having goals, specifically long-term ones. I would have 5-year, 10-year and even 20-year goals for my personal and professional life. I would also ask my friends and colleagues about their long-term goals and if they do not have one, I encourage them to have one. You see, I am by nature a planner and I thrive on my ability and capacity to plan. I remember my younger self being so excited attending annual planning sessions and I would probably be one of the most engaged participant on such occasions.
But not anymore… Why? What has changed? My age. As of this writing I am already in my mid 50’s so I already have over three decades of work experiences and over 5 decades of life experiences. I have witnessed much in my professional and personal life for me to eventually change my view and perspective with regards to goals, particularly long-term ones. Well, for starters having long-term goals for me today will be less practical as I may not actually live long enough to see the fruition of such goals. But it’s more than that actually. The years have taught me, and even made me appreciate about the spontaneity of life. The years have taught me that life is not one straight long highway but rather a myriad network of many roads: some are winding, some are intersecting, some are ascending, some are descending, some are short, some are long, some are paved, some are rough. The years made me realize that while achieving the goals set is a good thing, being content with what you have and where you are is more fulfilling, at least to me.
Sometime ago, I was conversing with a friend and he was sharing some of his frustrations in life and it was clear that it was really upsetting for him. My friend is a very dedicated, hard-working and disciplined person and he was really concerned that his life was not going towards the directions of his long-term goals. As he was narrating his frustrations with me, I saw a glimpse of my younger self in my friend. Like him, I worked hard to achieve my goals but I also get frustrated when things do not develop the way I thought would. My friend’s situation was not a unique one. I have spoken to many young individuals who are going through some frustrations in life because things in their lives are not going along according to their goals. While some are just being impatient, many are genuinely struggling. What do I tell them? Nothing. I just listen to them and let them know that I am friend who is willing to be a friend who they can talk to. I do not have any pretentions that I am a sage that will always be ready to give wisdom for I do not have the answers. My friends need to make their own realizations in their own moment, and in their own time. What I can offer them is a listening ear, something that I believe they need most for the moment. Our culture has a tendency to seek immediate answers and look for those answers from older and more accomplished individuals, or worse from self-proclaimed life experts in social media. I think our culture gives the sages too much credit and give ourselves too little.
So, are setting goals, particularly long-term goals a bad idea? Definitely not. I still think goals, whether short, medium or long term ones are still important. To quote Napoleon Hill “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” We need goals to help us prepare for the future. I am a financial planner and it is important that we always have financial plans lest we might find our financial lives in disarray. However, the achievement of our goals is not the end goal of our lives. We can still have a good life even if our goals are not realized. More than having long-term goals, I have realized that what brings true joy for me is living my life to the fullest by appreciating what I have, the people I have in my life and the life that I have in general. We shouldn’t sell ourselves short because will all learn how to adapt, respond and react to life’s many challenges and we will realize that there’s really more to life than realizing our goals.
So what changed the way I believe and live? Knowing that I am not in control of my life, God is.
You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail – Proverbs 19:21, NLT.
I have learned that I need to trust my creator more and myself less. The Lord does not want us to live life foolishly and aimlessly but He wants us to live a life of purpose and that purpose emanates from Him and not from us. To live a life according to God’s purpose is what life is all about and once you have come to terms with such a reality, you will know that our lives goes way beyond our goals.
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! – Psalm 34:8, ESV
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. – Psalm 90:12, ESV
Finally, let me encourage you as you make your goals in life, do not limit it to short-term, medium term and long-term goals… make sure you also include the most important goal of all – the eternal one. Our lives can be a short one or it can be a long one but I chose to live it fully by making the Lord Jesus Christ the master of my life.
But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ – Luke 12:20, ESV