Any self-help expert will tell you that it’s crucial to set targets. Goals give direction in life. Achieving goals is one of the best ways to stay motivated. The most essential life planning tools are your long-term, medium-term, and short-term goals. We’ll focus on just one here: short-term goals. So what is a short-term goal? And how can it help you?
According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, pursuing goals can:
- Provide you a sense of purpose
- Reduce the impact of depression and anxiety
- Improve your motivation
- Endow a sense of control in your life
But setting the right goals isn’t always easy. And without proper goal-setting, these gains are out of reach. If you’re not sure what you want or don’t know enough about yourself, you may find yourself floundering, never quite committing to a particular path.
Fortunately, with a little effort, you have the power to improve your life. Once you understand the different types of goals and how they work, you can use them to your advantage.
What is a short-term goal?
A goal can be defined as the desired outcome that will not happen without your input.
The words “your input” are more important here. Your goals cannot be achieved unless you are willing to take action.
And all your goals should have a time frame. You can classify them as follows:
- Life goals: goals you hope to achieve before you die
- Long-Term Goals: Goals that require 5-10 years or more to achieve
- Medium-Term Goals: Goals that have a duration of 2-5 years
- Short-Term Goals: Goals that can be achieved today, next week, or within a year
Short-term goals are very varied. It can be related to daily goals, such as your to-do list at work or spring cleaning. But they can also work as stepping stones for your larger goals.
Let’s say you are hoping to become a businessman. You will need a degree to get into MBA school and get an internship at a good firm. To earn your degree, you’ll need to take a number of courses, each with multiple assignments.
A short-term goal of getting an A+ on your midterms still contributes to your long-term goal of being a businessman- but it has a different scope.
Not every goal should lead to a larger goal or overarching objective. If you just woke up today and thought you’d like to finish work in time to watch the sunset on your evening walk, that’s a perfectly fine goal.
Regardless of where it fits in your plan, from small health goals to professional goals, each step will contribute to building your life and career.
Why are short-term goals important?
Think of your life like a coloring book. Your long-term goals are black-and-white outlines on the page. Your short-term people are how you paint them.
In other words, short-term goals are important in helping you create the bigger picture of your life. And, just as you would pick the best coloring pencils for the job, your short-term goals should keep you going.
Here are the main benefits that come from these types of goals:
- They are achievable: These goals should be simple to accomplish so that you can meet tight deadlines.
- They create momentum: Because you can achieve them quickly, short-term goals provide a sense of accomplishment, which increases your motivation.
- They keep you on track: These goals are most powerful when structured to support larger ambitions. With the right planning, they will get you closer to your dreams.
- They boost your confidence: Along with your motivation, checking things off your to-do list will enhance your confidence.
- They provide quick results: Quick turnaround time means quick results.
- They avoid delay: Shorter deadlines will force you to keep working toward your bigger goals.
You can use short-term personal goals to reap these benefits in all areas of your life.
How can short-term goals help you at work?
Your short-term goals can also assist you in your career. From team projects to professional development, having clear milestones will keep you on track. Here’s how you can utilize them to support your work life:
- Set team goals: A clear list of your team’s short-term goals keeps everyone on the same page and accountable.
- Set goals for your productivity: If you’re hoping to influence your colleagues, you can use short-term goals to build on your workflow and increase output.
- Set development goals: Learning new skills takes time. Short-term milestones can assist you to become a better leader or employee.
- Set goals for your job search: Setting clear goals can help you find a new job and fight job search depression. Try applying to five organizations per week or connecting with as several new people as you can on LinkedIn over the next month.
Keep these benefits in mind when you ask yourself: What is your short-term career goal? Only you know the answer, but you should find out.
How to plan and achieve goals
While there are several strategies for creating and achieving short-term goals, there is no silver bullet.
Successfully reaching your milestones takes self-awareness, Inner Work, and fortitude. It needs comfort with failure and demands adaptability.
With that disclaimer, let us help you set meaningful short-term goals with these strategies:
1. Visualise the Finish Line
The first step embrace identifying what you want to achieve. Is it a small behavioral change for self-improvement, a major career change to do something you love or something in between?
Short-term goals depend on long-term ambitions. Create a manifest journal or vision board to keep your dreams front and center. Start each day with the future in mind by making visualization a part of your morning routine.
2. Work Backwards
Now that you have your goals, make a plan to achieve them step by step.
Your plans may include several short-term goals. Like a trail of breadcrumbs, each will lead to the next, guiding you to success. If you need to meet a short-term goal to get started on the next one, like completing an online course to meet a midterm, plan that way.
3. Use the SMART goal method
You must learn and apply the SMART goal method. This abbreviation stands for goals that are:
- Specific: Do you have a clear desired outcome for your goals?
- Measurable: By what metric will you know you’ve achieved your goal?
- Attainable: Can you reach your goal with your current resources and capabilities?
- Relevant: Is your goal relevant to your beliefs, values, and wider ambitions?
- Time Bound: Are your deadlines reasonable?
4. Distinguish between process and outcome goals
- Outcome goals Embrace ticking a box from a list—they are either completed or incomplete. It’s a useful way to measure your achievements because it’s so black and white. Have You Landed Your Dream Job?But long-term goals can seem overwhelming when you are just starting out. This is why it is helpful to focus on the process.
- Process goals emphasize inputs over results. They help you build habits that propel you forward in the short term. For instance, saying, “I will practice french for 20 minutes every day so that I can fulfill my goal of becoming a translator,” will help you to move at a reasonable motion.
5. Start small
If you’ve ever exhausted yourself at the gym, you know the consequences of biting off more than you can chew. Instead of working out every day as you had planned, you now need some days to recover.
A similar idea goes for your professional life and personal life. It is important to take things slow to reduce the risk of failure.
The short-term goal of discipline is a great example here. You need to start with small tasks that need focus, then gradually move on to bigger projects. This will gradually develop your discipline and encourage you to keep going.
6. Track your goals
Review your progress oft. Lots of goal-tracking apps are available digitally, or you can go old school with the pen-and-paper method. Keeping a progress journal is a great idea.
Tracking your progress will assist you to stay motivated.
7. Reward yourself
Create an extrinsic motivation system to reward yourself when you achieve your goals. You work hard, and you be worth kicking back now and then.
8. Schedule your goals
Set aside regular blocks of time to achieve your milestones. Whether it’s reading 20 minutes every day or spending 10 hours per week building your business, block it off in your calendar. Use that time for distraction-free work.
This exercise inculcates the habit of working towards your goals.
5 short-term goals examples
If you are having a hard time visualizing your goals, here are a few examples to inspire you. Each follows the guidelines described above.
1. I want to run a half marathon in a year. I currently jog only casually. My short-term goal is to add five minutes to my run each week until I reach half-marathon length.
2. I want to buy a house within five years. I saved half of what I needed on my down payment because I didn’t plan ahead. My short-term goal is to boost my monthly income and savings.
3. I want to finish writing a book in a year. I have 50 pages so far. My short-term goal is to write a page every day until I finish my first draft.
4. I want to be a video game developer within 4 years. I am currently a high school student entering college. My short-term goal is to get an A in a course so that I can do an internship at a university.
5. I want to play guitar in a band by next year. I am currently a beginner. My short-term goal is to practice for 30 minutes per day until I can memorize six complete songs.
6. I want to get financial security in the near future. My short-term financial goal is to pay off my credit card debt in the stipulated time.
7. I want to quit social media in the next three months. My short-term goal is to track my social media time and reduce it weekly.
Goals vs Aspirations
Try not to confuse your goals with aspirations. Here is the difference:
- Goals are specific and supported by action
- Aspirations are general and distant future
You can aspire to become someone great. But personal development goals help you visualize that future and become that person.
The Bottom Line
Short-term goals are your roadmap to achieving goals and dreams. With every step, you take your headway to a brighter future for yourself.
As a unique individual, you have certain aspirations that are all your own. We began this post by asking, “What is a short-term goal?” Now the ball is in your court.