09/03/2015 12:18 EDT | Updated 09/03/2016 05:59 EDT

5 Easy Steps for Reaching Your Long-Term Goals

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Working women draw leader business plan.

Have you ever turned on the TV or read about something that was accomplished by someone else that was on YOUR "to do list"? Almost 10 years ago I had a dream of creating some much-needed discussion around mass incarceration and recidivism rates in the U.S. I considered a documentary or writing about it on different platforms. While it was my dream, it was obviously a goal for several people. On more than one occasion, I either read something or saw something that appeared to come directly out of my notes. I was excited about the increase in exposure for the topic, but I honestly kicked myself for not following through with any of it.

Life happens, and it's easy to get distracted. This is especially true when you have long term-goals. As silly as it sounds, sometimes a plan FOR the plan is needed in order to stay focused. This list is in no particular order, and I rely on some more than others.

1. Connect with people that are actively pursuing similar goals.

I love to engage with people that are far more advanced in the area I'm still working on. Most times they are able to help me consider factors I never realized were an option. If you can't find this person in your current network, then make some changes. This doesn't have to mean subtracting anyone, I'm suggesting adding a few people. Go network and meet people. Utilize social media. I've made great connections on Facebook and Twitter.

2. Create an accountability system that works for you.

For some reason, when I have a hard time finding that internal motivation to complete a task, just knowing that someone else is anticipating it puts a little fire under me. This is true when a person is waiting for me at the gym or waiting for me to send them something by a specific time. This can also mean just sharing some of your goals with a trusted audience. Sometimes when people casually ask you about your progress on a goal it serves as a gentle nudge.

3. Finish what you start. Even if it's something small.

This is a Shanita-ism. It does something to me to have unfinished work on my laptop or unfinished projects. When I'm excited about a new idea, I will kill my own buzz as soon as I think about things I started but didn't finish.

4. Measure your success based on YOUR own goals.

You have to look at YOUR starting point as an indicator to measure success. It's wonderful to have people around you that have excelled in areas that you are still growing in. However, don't allow their success to be the indicator for yours. Remember, the object is completing your goals, not peer competition.

5. Take time to celebrate the baby steps.

I remember participating in Weight Watchers with about 15 other women. Each week we weighed ourselves and celebrated every pound lost. If a person lost two pounds, we were excited. Stay excited about each step you take toward your goals. Find a way to reward yourself for the baby steps.

The greater the goal, the more time it may require to complete. You can't look around and get distracted by the million things that can pull you in. Even if it's just for a little while, sometimes you have to put on your horse blinders and just run. Enjoy life as you will, but remember that the difference between a goal and a dream are the action steps you take.


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