Life goals are broken into 2 categories: short-term goals and long-term goals. You need both for overall success. But let’s be honest: Sometimes, the time and effort that go into achieving long-term goals can be overwhelming. That’s where short-term goals come in!
Short-term goals are small, achievable goals. They’re the ‘everyday goals’ that bring you closer to an ultimate goal. As you pursue larger goals that feel lightyears away, it’s easy to lose momentum. Short-term goals are quick wins you can achieve in a fraction of the time.
Like the name implies, short-term goals are ideal for a tighter time frame — and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve in a short amount of time. In today’s blog, we’ve got a step-by-step guide on how to set goals for the short-term, and how to actually achieve them. Plus, we’ve got examples of short-term goals that you can start today!
So, sit back and buckle up for a crash course in how to define short-term goals.
Short-Term Goals and Long-Term Goals: What’s the Difference?
When we talk about short-term goals, it’s impossible to not mention long-term goals as well. The two go hand-in-hand, but they’re also super different. Short-term goals are meant for a short time frame, and long-term goals typically take much longer to complete.
It’s best to start with long-term goals. Then, set short-term goals as the stepping stones to the long-term goals. That way, each short-term goal paves the way towards a bigger goal. This is one of the key habits of successful people. When you set goals this way, you’re always taking actionable steps towards your ultimate purpose.
While short-term goals and long-term goals work in tandem most of the time, there are some distinct differences between the 2. Let’s take a deeper look at the definitions of both.
Definition of Short-Term Goals
Short-term goals are objectives you want to complete in the near future, such as next month or even next week. They’re meant to be quick wins that can help you build momentum. They help bridge the gap between where you are right now and where you want to be in the future. Short-term goals typically include small tasks or to-do’s that you can achieve in under a year.
The purpose of short-term goals is to help you achieve the bigger goal that you have in the back of your mind. They help you set your focus in the right direction, so you can identify the next steps to take and monitor your progress over time. Short-term goals can also help prepare you for what’s next — either by helping you learn new skills or putting you in a more positive mindset.
Definition of Long-Term Goals
Long-term goals are objectives you want to complete in the actual future, such as 1, 5 or 10 years down the line. They’re far from quick wins — in reality, your long-term goals are supposed to take a large amount of time. They tend to be bigger goals, which require months or even years to confidently achieve.
However, because these goals take more time, it can be easy to become side-tracked or lose momentum along the way. This is why it’s key to back your long-term goals with a series of short-term goals. Use your short-term goals as milestones along the way to your big goal, so you always have something to celebrate. Plus, if your long-term goal shifts over time, your short-term goals can help keep you moving in the right direction.
What Are the Different Types of Short-Term Goals?
Now you understand the concept of short-term goals. So, let’s look at how different types of short-term goals apply in life and business. While there are a ton of different types of objectives, the majority of short-term goals fall into 1 of 5 buckets:
- Personal goals
- Health goals
- Relationship goals
- Professional goals
- Financial goals
Any short-term goal that falls into one of these buckets should ultimately feed into your overarching long-term goals, and encourage you along your desired path in life. Here’s a breakdown of each type of goal.
Short-Term Personal Goals
Personal development is a way to better understand yourself, including your unique strengths, weaknesses and aspirations. It’s a way to assess where you’re at right now as you consider your goals for the long-term. Then, you can figure out what you need to do to get where you want to go. At its core, personal development is a way to improve every aspect of your life.
Short-term personal development goals make incremental changes in your life. So, instead of trying to reinvent yourself overnight, short-term personal goals help you take small steps towards a better you. In life and business, you can set various personal development goals focused on breaking out of your comfort zone. Or, you can set personal goals to break a bad habit, like procrastination.
Short-term goals encourage you to tackle these desires one step at a time. For example, maybe a short-term goal is to attend a networking event or learn how to make effective to-do lists. These small steps prepare you to tackle your long-term goals. Plus, short-term personal goals can improve your mindset and performance along the way.
Short-Term Health Goals
Short-term health goals technically fall under the umbrella of personal goals. However, we like to keep the two very separate. That’s because health goals are such a large part of personal goals. If you’re not taking care of your health, you won’t have the physical or mental energy to work on your personal development!
To maintain the energy and stamina you need to work on yourself, you must take care of your mental and physical health. So, once you set personal development goals, be sure to set additional health and fitness goals as well. These can be simple goals, such as getting 8 hours of sleep each night or drinking 8 glasses of water per day. You can even set fun fitness goals, like taking a daily walk or beginning a win everyday morning routine, to prime both your mind and body for success.
Short-Term Relationship Goals
Short-term relationship goals are your interpersonal goals. These goals relate to the relationships you’d like to build or maintain with other people. They apply to relationships in your personal life — such as friendship, romantic or familial goals. For instance, if you haven’t been spending as much quality time with family or friends, set a goal to spend 2 nights a week with loved ones.
On the other hand, short-term relationship goals also apply to your career. You can strive to create friendships or partnerships with colleagues and peers. These relationships can form the basis of your professional network. Likewise, you can set short-term community goals to invest time back into the local community. For example, you can designate 1 day a week to mentor up-and-coming solopreneurs in your area.
Short-Term Professional Goals
Short-term professional goals are what you’d like to achieve in your professional life. Also known as short-term career goals, these goals help you advance along your desired career path. While every type of short-term goal should ultimately feed into a long-term goal, professional goals, in particular, are often tied to bigger goals. For instance, if you set a long-term retirement goal, you must take several small steps over the years to reach that point.
With a long-term goal like retirement, you might be curious how you can make progress on short-term goals. The answer is to set periodic short-term goals that you can monitor over time. This is a process known as goal-tracking.
To start goal-tracking your short-term professional goals, monitor the work you produce each day. Look at the quality of it, and measure how productive you are from day-to-day. By fine-tuning these metrics, you can make small changes to your workflow or mindset that can set you up for success. This way, you continue to set (and achieve) short-term professional goals that further your career path.
Short-Term Financial Goals
Short-term financial goals are the money-based goals you want to achieve in the near future. Remember, the “near future” means within the next few weeks or months. Any goal that takes longer than one year is considered a long-term goal. So, while setting short-term financial goals, the key is to remain realistic.
For example, you can’t skyrocket your monthly income in two months. Nor can you pay off a massive amount of debt over the course of a few weeks. But what you can do is set short-term goals that help you reach the financial freedom you’ve been craving. Set short-term goals to reduce your credit card debt by $200 or add $500 to your savings account in 3 months. These realistic financial goals can set you up for financial security or even financial abundance.
What Makes a Good Short-Term Goal?
So, now you can define short-term goals and pinpoint the different types of goals. The next question is: How do you set a good goal? What makes a short-term goal successful? At its core, a short-term goal is made up of simple actions, broken down into daily or weekly tasks.
With short-term goals, there’s never any confusion on which steps to take next — the goal itself outlines exactly what you need to do and when. Since short-term goals are set within a short time frame, you can hit the ground running without any questions or hesitation.
In other words, every good short-term goal needs an action plan. That’s where SMART goals come in!
How to Set SMART Short-Term Goals for Life and Business
When it comes to setting goals, SMART goals reign supreme. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. By setting SMART goals, you establish a time frame for your goals, and you know exactly how to monitor progress over time. Plus, you can ensure that your goal is within reach.
If you’re unfamiliar with SMART goals, here’s a more in-depth breakdown:
- Specific — SMART goals are hyper-detailed, so you know exactly where to start and what you need to do to accomplish them.
- Measurable — You can measure SMART goals and track your growth over time.
- Achievable — SMART goals are within reach and can be achieved within your designated time frame.
- Relevant — SMART goals are tied to your overarching purpose in life and align with your core values.
- Time-Bound — SMART goals have a specific end date so you can track the goal until completion.
In life and business, it’s wise to set SMART short-term and long-term goals. However, SMART short-term goals are extremely important. They allow you to track your success over time, giving you specific stepping stones towards your ultimate goal. With a solid definition of SMART goals in mind, take a look at goal-setting in action.
Examples of Short-Term Goal in Every Stage of Life
The following are examples of short-term goals that you can apply to your life, no matter what stage you’re in. Take a look at these short-term goal examples for students, for work and for personal development. And notice how each short-term goal feeds into a bigger goal.
Short-Term Goals for Students
Learning can take so many shapes — from traditional high school or college courses to eLearning and the knowledge broker industry. But no matter if you’re part of an online Mastermind or taking courses at the local community college, being a student means you’re on the hunt for knowledge. So, it only makes sense that your short-term goals should further your education.
Consider these examples of short-term goals for students.
- I will get to know my teacher: This month, I’ll spend 15 minutes at the end of each lesson talking to my teacher. This will help me better understand the course materials. And in the long-term, this teacher could give me a letter of recommendation.
- I will improve my social presence: Over the next 3 weeks, I’ll create or expand on my LinkedIn profile. This will improve my social presence in my field. Once I finish my classes, my profile can form the basis of my long-term networking goals.
- I will sign up for an online course: I’ll search for an online course to increase my existing knowledge base, and I’ll sign up for it this week. In the long term, the skills I learn in this course will prepare me for advancing in my career.
Short-Term Goals for Work
Short-term goals for work have multiple meanings. On the one hand, you can set short-term goals that pave the way to your ultimate long-term career goal. Or, you can set short-term goals that simply improve your current job performance.
Take a look at various short-term goals for work and how they can support your long-term goals over time.
- I will improve my communication skills: Over the next 4 months, I’ll improve my communication skills. I’ll maintain eye contact every time I’m speaking, and I’ll start 1 conversation each day. This will help me build rapport with colleagues, and it will help my communication when I apply for a promotion next year.
- I will complete every goal on my to-do list: Each day of this week, I’ll make a to-do list. I’ll complete every item on my to-do list by the end of the day. This will help me prioritize and keep me working towards my long-term goals.
- I will make 5 new connections: This month, I’ll make 5 new connections — either in-person or virtually — with people who share my career path. I’ll be able to collaborate with and learn from these colleagues. And maybe next year, one of these individuals could become my mentor.
Short-Term Goals for Personal Development
Last but certainly not least are short-term goals for personal development. It’s key for everyone — of all ages and walks of life — to set routine personal development goals. However, it can be tricky to understand exactly where to start. We always recommend you take stock of where you’re at in life now compared to where you want to be. Then, set short-term goals that can help you get there.
Consider these short-term personal development goals for inspiration.
- I will beat my bad habit: I’ll learn how to stop being lazy and beat my procrastination habit. Over the next 3 months, I’ll pick an activity I’ve been wanting to start and work it into my regular routine. Or, I’ll complete a project I’ve already started. This will help me work towards living the life of my dreams.
- I will start learning a new language: I’ll learn 2 new words in a different language each day for the next 2 months. Before long, I’ll speak the language fluently.
- I will leave my comfort zone: For the next 3 months, I’ll do one thing every day that I typically wouldn’t do, even if it makes me nervous. By next year, I won’t be afraid to leave my comfort zone.
Get Started with Short-Term Goals Today
Are you sick of running out of gas before you reach your final destination? If so, it’s time to fuel your progress with short-term goals. Short-term goals are the motivation you need to power your ultimate purpose in life, no matter what that may be.
How will you get started with your short-term goals?
Fill Dean in on your latest plan — send a text to his cell at 480-400-9019!