The Battle For The Life of Your Goals: Long-Term Vision Versus Short-Term Feedback

Jude M. King, PhD
Aug 14 · 4 min read
Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

One of the most frustrating thing about goal achievement is when the short-term feedback you are getting looks nothing like the long term vision you aim for.

For example, let’s say your goal is to be a top-class guitar player, but right now you play fairly good one day and fumble your notes the next. It can be frustrating.

If your goal is to be a great writer, and you are at a stage in your writing journey where your prose still reads a little too dry. Where, in fact, nobody want to read what you wrote — except your mother, of course, — it can be really frustrating.

One common mistake though is to look for motivation in the day-to-day short term feedback you’re getting at that stage, rather than allowing your long range vision to excite and propel you.

The truth is, it’s hard not to do.

We want progress to be very swift but it can be irritatingly slow. We want to improve overnight, but improvement takes time and consistent application of effort. When what we see on the progress dashboard is not fast and furious, we tend to get discouraged.

It’s the reason many goals fall by the wayside. We find it really hard to see how the short-term feedback we currently have can translate to eventual achievement of our goals. So we quit.

When short-term feedback is not great, you’re demotivated and that’s when you say “I’m not feeling it” and you allow a cherished dream fall away.

The trick is to unhinge your motivation from the fluctuating feedback and let your long-term vision drive you forward.

And there are two broad ways to do this:

1. Be Clear About Your “Why”

A clear statement of your why is the necessary next step after you’ve written down your goal.

What’s the purpose behind your goal? Why does it matter that you should achieve it?

When short-term feedback doesn’t add up, your why have the power to pull you through those moments where motivation is on the floor.

Connecting and reconnecting with your why — why you started in the first place — is the path to sustained motivation.

So, create a detailed and compelling list of WHY you want to achieve that goal. Write it down.

The truth is if your goal is not backed up with strong enough whys, you’re more likely to give up on it in those early days when the results dont seems to line up with your vision.

2. Understand the Power of Compounding

One thing you have to realize is that real-world feedback is hardly ever NOT fickle. So, for instance, if you’re committed to weight loss, it doesn’t help to focus too much on the numbers on the scale, as long as you are putting in the necessary efforts — honoring the process.

If you’re committed to becoming a concert pianist, it doesn’t help to focus too much on your fluency in those early days. What matters more is whether you’re practicing everyday — putting in your reps.

We often expect progress to be linear but it hardly ever is. And in a world prone to sensationalism, we are primed to look out for what comes fast and comes big. And, we expect, — quite mistakenly — the same of progress.

But progress in many things is often exponential: starting off very small, from zero and grows very slowly initially and for a while until, if we stick around long enough, compounding do its magic.

Big progress, that we expect, is often the reward of long period of sustained effort and consistent action.

In Conclusion

Generally, it is helpful at the beginning of a new venture to ask yourself, “what would progress look like?”

Will it slope upward in a perfect straight line or will it take the form of an exponential growth — J-like curve — where results really take off after a long period of near stagnation despite consistent effort?

Asking this question will help you know what to do with short-term feedback.

Because, when short-term feedback isn’t great, it’s easier to say success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm” than to actually not lose enthusiasm. But if you know that you are sitting on an exponential progress/growth curve, it’s easier to stick through the initial lack of positive feedback and stay stuck to the task long enough for compounding to run wild.

Recognize that there is a battle for the life of your goal: less-than-encouraging short-term feedback versus your grand long-term vision.

And the way you’ll win is to put your long term vision in the driving seat rather than the fickle short-term feedback.

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    Jude M. King, PhD

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    Research Scientist | Entrepreneur | Teacher | I help you gain empowering insights on skill-building, learning, entrepreneurship and personal development.

    The Startup

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