Setting Long-Term Goals: Birthday Edition

This week I turn 26. My career goals have changed a crazy amount in the last five years! Back then, I was in my last year of college and on track to apply to medical schools…that did not happen. (I promise to tell you more about that in a future post!) A year ago while working, I realized I really wanted to learn more about bookkeeping and auditing, so I made the decision to pursue accounting as a career. I chose to go back to school full-time for a Masters in Accounting even though I had never taken a business class before.

Jump forward to today: I have finally completed school, am currently taking the CPA licensing exams, and have a full-time accounting position set for January 2018. My 21-year-old self would have never guessed where I would end up!

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It is my wholehearted belief that it is never too late to change your life. Whether it is your attitude, lifestyle choices, or career path, you should always be true to yourself and figure out how you can achieve your goals.

Birthdays, similar to the new year, are a great time for reflection. I like to annually re-evaluate my long-term goals to make sure I am fighting for the right ones and not just comfortably stuck on the path I set for myself years ago.

“The hardest part of getting what you want is figuring out what you want in the first place.” – Nicole Lapin

I understand some people do not like discussing or even thinking about their long-term goals. This can be overwhelming and scary, especially if you feel like you are not where you wanted to be at this point in time. What helps me is separating my goals to make them more manageable. The goals you set do not have to be career or finance oriented. Your goals can be about family (buying a home or getting married), artistic endeavors or hobbies (taking painting classes or joining a community orchestra), travel (planning a big trip or a weekend getaway), health (mental or physical), or anything you can imagine. What are you passionate about? What makes you excited for the future?

Take 10 minutes right now to read the goal setting prompts below and really think about your answers. I encourage you to think extreme with these goals. Your ideas should seem ambitious because your goals should be ambitious!

Goal Setting Prompts

  • What is your ideal lifestyle, and what financial position will enable you to live it? Consider:
    • Do you want to eat at five-star restaurants regularly, own condos in multiple cities, and/or lease high-end cars?
    • Do you want to be able to buy nice clothes regularly, eat out often, and/or take trips whenever you want?
    • Do you want to have multiple children and send them to private or religious schools? How about college?
    • Do you have loans you have to pay off? Make a timeline of by when you’d like to have these paid off. (We will discuss this in a future post!)
    • Can you live comfortably with only the basic necessities, and do you prefer it?
  • What do you want out of your career? Consider:
    • Are you looking for a stable job?
    • Do you want substantial income?
    • Are you thinking of starting your own business?
  • What are your goals in regards to family? Consider:
    • Do you see yourself getting married and having kids? If so, what is your desired timeline?
    • Do you prefer a lifestyle without children?
  • Where do you see your ideal home? Consider:
    • Do you want to settle down in a house?
    • Do you prefer the flexibility of living in apartments?
    • Where do you want to live: suburbs, city, rural? Maybe in a different country?
  • How do you want to spend your free time? Consider:
    • Is your main goal to travel as much as possible?
    • What creative hobbies do you want to pursue?
    • Is spending time with family and friends imperative in my day-to-day life?
  • How do you want to give back to the community? Consider:
    • Are you interested in starting a charity, mentoring, or volunteering?
    • Would you like to become a board member of an existing organization?

Really take some time to consider your answers. Brainstorm on a piece of paper or Google document. Documenting your goals is a lot of fun because you can look at them later and see how far you are towards reaching them, or you can see how much they have changed.

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You have to go beyond writing down your goals, though. Next, break them into smaller, attainable steps. For example, where do you want to be in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? To give you a better idea of what I am talking about, here is an example of one of my goal strategies:

Sophie’s Long-Term Career Goal

  • 1-Year Goal: Begin job at a large accounting firm to gain experience with how businesses in a variety of industries are run.
  • 3-Year Goal: Continue working hard in the accounting firm to earn promotions and gain more relevant experience managing a team and dealing with clients.
  • 5-Year Goal: Continue to move up in the accounting firm while making great connections and starting to learn about the sales aspect of business.
  • 7-Year Goal: Continue saving up a hearty financial safety net and consider when to make the leap into starting my own company. Write a business plan, mission statement, and develop other financial details.
  • 10-Year Goal: Run my own company that provides business and accounting advice to small businesses, artists, and other organizations.

This goal is one of my passions, but I imagine over the course of the next year, it will change after I get some real experience in the accounting world. Maybe I will decide I want to become a partner in the firm, or maybe I will want to take a few years off to start a family or travel the world. Your initial goal may get a bit derailed, but the point of this exercise is to encourage you to strive for your ideal situation in the current moment and not get you stuck doing something that makes you unhappy.

Sometimes reaching for your goals means making a little sacrifice today. Going back to school to get a degree in a new field is not the most fun or cost-effective plan in the short term, but in the long term you can start a job in a field you truly enjoy.

I hope this post has given you something to think about and reminded you that you can change your current path and strive for something that inspires, motivates, and encourages you to be the best version of yourself at any point in your life. Feel free to reach out to me and let me know what your goals are! Sharing your goals with friends is a good way to build a supportive community and help you stay on track. Have fun with it, think big, and get creative!

Time to go eat cake!

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