Let's say you just moved to a new city. On a whim, you picked a spot on the map and moved there. Well, you get your apartment all settled and decide you probably need to go grocery shopping. So, you hop on the internet, find what's closest to you, and, if you're a budgeter, which store has the best sales going on. Then you go shopping, come home, put away your groceries, maybe cook something and then take a small break before you plan and execute your next activity.
We set a hundred little goals each day, but for some reason, when it comes to the big picture of our lives, we have no idea where we want to go. We can see our lives in a small bubble of do the dishes, wash the dog, go grocery shopping, clean the house--but we fail to set the major goals like how much money do I want for retirement? Am I saving enough money? Am I making money doing what I love? How much do I need saved up? What does "budget" even mean? (That last one gave me a chuckle).
At some point, you have to step back from your tiny goals that fill each day and look at the big picture. Look at your life now, look at where you want to be in 5, 10, 20 years. Are you on the right path? Did you know there was a path?
Some examples of goal setting for this type of long term thinking:
Your Life Now: A goal I want to set for this year is (lose weight, get a raise, start a business, write a book, etc). Small steps I can take to meet this goal: In 3 months, learn how to (lose weight, get a raise, start a business, write a book, etc). Then in 6 months I can (begin the project) and in 9 months I can (execute) then in 1 year I will have accomplished (original goal).
Your Life in 5 years: In 5 years I want to (make $100,000/year, invest in a retirement fund, invest in a college fund for kids/grandkids, own a home, own a yacht, etc). Small steps I can take to meet this goal are: (take on more hours at work, save $2,000 to invest, find a financial planner, calculate down payment money for house/yacht). Then in 2 years I can (get that promotion, reinvest double my original amount, execute financial advisor's plan, continue to save for house/yact)--you get the point.
Same thing for 10 year and 20 year goals. If you don't have a vision of where you're going, you'll be doing the same thing next year, and the year after that, and the year after that...
If you aim at nothing, you're sure to hit it.
Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're probably right."
What have you got to lose? Nothing. What have you got to gain? Everything.
If nothing else, give yourself permission to change, to break out of your rut, to dream big and to know where you're going in life!