== Notes to self ==
Not gold alone brought us hither

Reaching Long Term Goals

Reaching a goal or successfully executing a plan — one thing they have in common is that they need us to make progress. Our rate of success in reaching the short term goals is a good indicator of whether we will succeed at long term goals. This is because the one thing we need to do for the short term goal — make progress in the present — is also applicable to longer term goals but with an amplified effect on the outcome.

Why we fail

Alas, we are not very good at making progress now. We think we could have made progress in the past. We think we can definitely make progress in the future. But we fail at making progress here and now. We are optimistic when setting a goal. In the excitement of thinking about a positive future, we believe we can do more than our track record would indicate. This is why we come up with lofty new year goals only to be disappointed by our inability to follow through with our plans.

How to succeed

If we are not reaching our short term goals, it is unlikely that we will reach the long term goals. We should first fix this by improving our success rate of reaching short term goals. This helps us get quick feedback and allows us to test out strategies that do and do not work for us. We can play with the two knobs that we control:

  1. our ability to finish the planned tasks of the day; and
  2. setting realistic goals

The daily tasks

At the end of the day, when we plan the tasks for the next day, we are optimistic. We tend to trust our future self to do things that our current self may be unwilling to take on. Yet, we go ahead and plan the tasks for tomorrow with the assumption that when the time comes, we will be up for the tasks. When we see ourselves constantly fall short on this metric, the first thing to do is improve the day to day success rate of completed tasks, whatever they may be. This is how we train ourselves to actually do those things that we said we will do. This is a muscle that can and must be trained. Every little success here creates a positive feedback loop, and it further improves our success rate of reaching short term goals.

Be realistic

While training our ability to complete the daily tasks, we should pay close attention to how we feel as the days go by. It is possible to power through our daily tasks for a few days and create a high success rate but if we feel worse with each passing day, that pace is unsustainable. The pace improves with time, but the optimal pace is highly individual and hence we must be careful to not compare ourselves to others. Once we hit a sustainable pace, we can use that as an input when we plan for the long term goals.


While we are still failing to reach our short term goals, let us not assume we will magically succeed in our long term goals. We should first train to get better at reaching our short term goals. This not only gives us a realistic assessment of our current abilities, but when done frequently, it also improves our abilities. This is the path to reaching our long term goals.