What to do when setting long-term goals freaks you out - Part I

The things we don’t share


Linda Roos

Linda is a copywriter with a mind full of sharp insights and an unsatisfiable curiousity. She writes on her blog www.lindaroosenmedia.nl, as well as for DeOndernemer.nl, a website specifically for Dutch entrepreneurs.

Photo: Carly Wollaert

New year, new me. A new chapter of life waiting to be written. 

The beginning of the New Year is filled with resolutions and ambitious goal setting... Yet,  it’s March already (when did that happen?!) and I’m still struggling. I feel the need to change the direction of my writing projects. That is why at this time of year, I ask myself, ‘What more do I want to achieve as a freelance writer? How do I get there? What do I need in order to achieve these goals?’.

And, the question I’ve been dreading the absolute most, ‘Where do I see myself in five years?’ The answer is, I have no idea. 

Setting long-term goals scares me and I never really understood why.


High school days

Perhaps it makes me uneasy because I feel as if I’m back in the final years of high school. I remember having to choose my study direction, and the pressure that came with this decision. To be honest, I never really gave it a good thought. There were some subjects at school I clearly wasn’t good at (basically anything that had to do with numbers) and since my Dad is a math teacher, I knew that I wouldn’t follow in his footsteps (sorry, Dad!). However, what I’ve always loved doing was writing. Being creative. I loved writing projects in school and at home I’d write hundreds of pages of Harry Potter fanfictions (yup, you read it correctly!).


Safe and comfy

At the time I felt very anxious and I didn’t really want to think about my future because honestly, it freaked me out. I worried about the pending reality—that I would soon have to exchange my safe and comfy high school for a huge university full of strangers, and fill my time with complex study material. Knowing that I would have to read (at least) a 1000 pages a month meant that I should choose something I’d enjoy. So I chose Media & Culture because the topic interested me, and I expected to learn a lot about film, television and new media. On the other hand, I wasn’t completely sure choosing this study would give me the opportunity to find a good job after graduating. As a student, I realized that what I loved doing the most (which was writing), was what I should be doing. Suddenly, I had quite a clear short-term goal after graduating: becoming a freelance writer.


Short term

For me, short-term goals are a piece of cake. These are simple tasks that you can implement into your life right away. For example, keeping a daily journal, going to the gym twice a week, meditating more often… Done and done! I find setting short-term goals less daunting, and more satisfactory because they are easier to achieve.

I consider myself a short-term goal pro. Are you struggling with setting a short-term goal? Please remember this: it’s all about taking that first step. 

If you want to start exercising, sign up to the gym in your neighborhood. If you want to create a more positive mindset, buy a notebook and put it next to your bed so you can write down positive things every morning. If you want to meditate, download an app and set a daily timer for when you want to sit down and meditate. 

Short-term goals are one thing, but what about the long haul? Sometimes, I still feel clueless when it comes to setting long-term goals. Lately, I have asked myself, “What can I do to make long-term goals more accessible?”. 

I have a few ideas. And perhaps you do too. I would love to hear your suggestions! I will be sharing my own next week in part II.