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Currently I work off of a written to-do list of short term goals/objectives which has proven to keep me organized and helped shape me into a proactive individual. This structure has served me well with short term goals, however I am starting to realize that a lot of my wants in life are more long-term related.

I have decided to sit down and write a list of everything whether short, mid, long term related. My problem is when I think about the organizing/executing aspect I get stuck in vicious circularity.

For example: two or more years from now I would like to volunteer with a specific organization that has Spanish as a requirement. OK, no problem I speak English and French fluently so learning Spanish shouldn't be too difficult. Do I learn it now in a couple months and run the risk of forgetting what I learnt or being out of practice? But if I wait too long I run the risk of not learning the language in time and hence jeopardizing the volunteer opportunity.

I end up doing this infinite loop of scenarios and planning the planning of the planning of the goal as opposed to commencing the work on the actual long term goal! This problem is not encountered with short term as I just do do do with quick, assertive and logical thinking. I am over analyzing the long term goals!

So I ask: How does one identify, organize and execute long term goals.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

You want to convert intent into action. David Allen author of Getting Things Done prescribes the natural Planning Model. You ask yourself in this order Why? What? How? and then organize projects and perform actions.

Here's my take on that.

It all starts with some thinking. Pure thinking.

Learning a new language is a guiding principle for you. It is the why. The best way to think about it is that the guiding principle is like the root of a tree. From that root will sprout a trunk, branches and leaves. Visualize yourself speaking Spanish. Where are you? Who are you with. What kind of situations do you see. Imagine with all your senses and write down what you can. Maybe you can jot down a scenario or write yourself a full blown story. Your vision will create a framework from which your options develop.
Review whenever you start to feel bored, stuck or frustrated with what your are doing.

Brainstorm You may start to see patterns and themes develop from your visualization. Places, people, methods. You may start to see you need to hang out in certain places, take certain courses. Through brainstorming you create your options, realistic or not it doesn't matter. Probably the crazier the better. The options you create from brainstorming can enable you to see where you need to be in order to make those options work for you.
Review if you are still feeling the strong desire but lost on how to get there

Organize GTD After brainstorming you will want to organize. Maybe you see a natural order or hierarchy of options. You start to move from the abstract to the real. You can see how your dreams can transform into action. Organization lets you see the short range goals upon which you can build commitments.
Review every couple of months or whenever you feel things aren't in order for you to accomplish your goals.

Based on your organization you can start to get an idea for the time sequencing of the things you need to do. You can set identifiable accomplishments. e.g. Scheduling your coursework, getting yourself to learning and practicing places. Commitments give you a framework on how to spend your resources such as time and money. You will also identify the appointments and places where you need to be in order to fulfill your commitments.
Review weekly AND whenever you want to evaluate your progress

Once you've identified commitments you will be able to identify the concrete actions necessary to fulfill your commitments. You'll identify people to talk to, lessons to complete, places to be, tests to take, opportunities to practice.
Review daily

Rinse and repeat starting at any level as needed

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I think GTD could be very useful with this type of need. My GTD system is actually categorized by time on one dimension - now, next, later, someday. – Raystafarian Dec 18 '13 at 16:06
@manuelhe Thank you for taking the time to write a great answer, it is truly appreciated. – AM_Hawk Dec 18 '13 at 16:09

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