Short term goals are awesome. That’s not sarcastic. I’m all about short term goal setting.
Because if you’re feeling a little stuck, a little frustrated with where you’re at, short term goals are a great way to get yourself out of that funk.
I’m a big, big fan of short term goals and this post explains why that is and how to set short term goals of your very own.
Jumpstart Your Future With Short Term Goals – Here’s What You Need
Short term goals, long term goals, medium term goals. What’s the difference?
Well, if you didn’t already decipher from their names, short term goals are goals that you can complete in the short term. Generally they can be accomplished within 12 months, but personally the short term goals that I set all fall within the 3-6 month range.
Long term goals on the other hand are goals set out a little further.
Technically, long term goals are anything that take longer than 12 months to accomplish, but again, long term goals for me start at around the 18-24+ month range.
And then medium term goals are there to fill in the gaps.
So if short term goals are between 3-6 months and long term goals are 18-24+ months, medium term goals fall within that 6-18 month range.
Here’s really what you need to know about the timeline of goal setting though… it’s dependent on you.
If you set a goal to complete something by next week, that’s short term. From that perspective, if you set another goal for 6 months from now, that’s more of a long term goal in comparison.
So the whole short, medium, long term thing is flexible and based around the timeline that you set.
Short term goals vs medium term vs long term
Here’s a quick example of how short term, medium term, and long term goals work:
- Short term: save up $10,000 within 6 months
- Medium term: save up $30,000 within 15 months
- Long term: purchase a condo within 24 months
As you can see, each level denotes a different amount of time required to achieve that goal – 6 months, 15 months, and 24 months.
That could’ve easily been 6 days, 15 days, 24 days. Or 6 weeks, 15 weeks, 24 weeks. The time doesn’t matter, just the perspective that it’s set in.
6 months comes before 15 months comes before 24 months. So from that perspective you have short, medium, and longer-term goals.
Don’t get too caught up on the timing, just recognize that short term goals are the ones that you are immediately working towards, long terms goals are the furthest out, and medium term goals fall somewhere in between.
Why are short term goals important? The benefits of short term goals
As I touch on in my goal setting course, short term goals are extremely important. In fact, short term goals are generally the only kind of goals that I set for myself.
And I set A LOT of goals. Probably too many if I’m being honest.
I’ve set goals to:
- Have a one-on-one meal with each member of my immediate family once a month (ACCOMPLISHED – continued this one for a number of years, actually)
- Read one to two books/month for a year (ACCOMPLISHED)
- Golf twice/month for six to twelve months (ACCOMPLISHED)
- Plus way more than just these three
And the nice thing about these kinds of goals is that while some lasted for one or more years, they were all initially goals set in the short term. In other words, they were all goals that I initially set for a year or less, but I enjoyed doing some of them so much that I then extended them into something longer.
Other goals on the hand, I was able to discontinue when I realized they weren’t for me.
Take golf for instance. I set a short term goal to golf at least twice per month. And golf twice per month is exactly what I did.
But somewhere along the way, I realized I don’t enjoy golf.
Maybe it was the long 20 hour games (I’m exaggerating. Playing a round of golf is time-consuming though). Maybe it was standing out in the hot sun waiting for someone else to hit. Or maybe it was the constant money you have to pay every time you want to play (as opposed to basketball where all you need is a ball and an open court).
Either way, a few months in I realized golf wasn’t for me.
But I’m not a quitter. In fact, when I have decided to stop doing things in the past, it’s normally in a very dramatic fashion because I don’t like the feeling of letting myself down. Of giving up.
In the case of golf though, because I set a goal based in the short term, I only needed to do it for a handful of months to really feel like I gave it my all.
Could you imagine if I set that goal for six years instead of six months? I’d be miserable! I’d be unhappy playing the sport and equally unhappy if I quit. It’s the perfect Catch-22.
Long term results
Luckily I set a short term goal for myself. A goal where I only had to stick with it for a handful of months.
And then when I crossed that finish line, I had the option to decide whether to keep going – like in the case of the one-on-one meals with my family – or I could stop doing it, but as a winner, not a quitter.
And that makes all the difference in the world.
Short term goals are great because they allow you to test a hypothesis. To try out a better, more ideal future for yourself without committing the rest of your life to the cause.
And here’s something else to keep in mind: short goals lead to long term results.
If you test out a short term goal for a few months and decide that it’s one you’d like to continue, you can extend your timeline and continue to work on that goal. Long term then, you will have a collection of goals you are working towards that you know are a good fit because you already tested them in the short term.
Whereas if you set long term goals, you’d be locked into a future that you hadn’t tested yet.
Short term goals are like dating someone for five years, evaluating the relationship along the way, and then getting married.
Setting long term goals is like matching with someone on Tinder and then immediately proposing to them. It may work out, but I don’t like the odds.
Short term goals, long term vision – the importance of short term goals
Goals are exact, but the future is not.
A goal could be that you want to read 30 pages each day for the next seven years. But the future at that time could be a completely different place than what you are anticipating it to look like right now.
Maybe your work responsibilities change, maybe you have a kid and your free time goes to zero, maybe books no longer exist. You don’t know and that’s the problem with long term goals (and is something I focus on, help you understand, and work through in my goal setting course).
So instead of setting long term goals, I set a long term vision for myself – an idea of where I’d like to see myself down the road, but it’s not too specific or concrete.
In other words, I leave room for variability.
With that in mind, I primarily set shorter goals within that long term vision.
Why? Because short term goals allow me to work towards that long term vision today while also giving me the flexibility to correct course if needed.
Here’s an example of setting a long term goal versus setting short term goals within a long term vision.
The concept of a long term vision
Let’s say that you set a long term goal that within two years you need to be running your own successful bakery and need to be making $25,000/month.
A solid goal.
But what happens if four months in you realize you hate baking? Well then you’re stuck either pursuing something you don’t enjoy or you have to scrap your long term goal and start over as a failure.
On the other hand, let’s say that your long term vision is to run your own business.
So you set a short term goal to launch a bakery within six months and get to work. But four months in, you realize you hate baking.
No problem, your future isn’t set in stone. You can correct course. So instead of baking, you decide to pivot into the restaurant space and find it much more enjoyable.
With that you’re back on track pursuing your long term vision.
That’s why short term goals are so great – they allow you to work towards your long term vision, your ideal life, while giving you the flexibility to learn and change course along the way.
Short term goals examples
With all that in mind, it’s probably helpful to give you a few examples of short term goals that you could potentially set for yourself. Well, here you go:
- Career: Look for a new job by applying to one new job posting each day for three months.
- Financial: Save up for a future home by tracking your expenses every day for the next six months.
- Social: Build up your current friendships by FaceTiming a friend once a week for the next four months.
- Health: Be healthier (and maybe lose a little weight) by eating “healthy” four to five days per week for the next three months.
- Education: Go through one lesson of an online course once per day for the next month.
As you can see, these goals are all based in the short term and are focused in different areas of your life. One thing that you may not have noticed though, is that they are all within your control.
When I say control, I mean that you have a direct say as to whether or not you achieve your goal. Look at example #3 for instance regarding your health.
Now, I could’ve used a more common example and said: Lose 10 lbs over the next three months. BUT you can’t actually control that.
Maybe you workout every single day and eat perfectly healthy, but your body decides not to lose the weight. Instead it chooses to convert that fat into muscle – making you even heavier.
Sure, you may look amazing, but you won’t see that. When you look in the mirror you’ll just see someone that weighs too much.
That’s not cool!
So instead, you need to set goals that you can directly influence.
To provide another example, you can control how much you save, but you can’t control what home prices will look like later this year.
So if you base your goal around buying a $400,000 condo in six months, but prices are at an all-time high and are much higher than what you were hoping for, you’re going to be upset and feel like you failed.
You didn’t fail. Especially if you saved up enough for a down payment in only six months. That’s amazing!
What failed you was the thing outside of your control – home prices.
In this case then, the actual goal you should set for yourself is one based around how much you can save each month. Not on what you may or may not be able to afford at the end of your journey.
You can control how much you save, you can’t control what something will cost in the future.
Outside of your control
Here’s another one.
You can control how much you read each day, but you can’t control how much your coworkers read. So if you set a goal to read more than them, you have no idea how often they read, how fast they read, what kinds of books they read.
They may be reading kids books while you’re reading novels. It’s outside of your control.
So instead, you could set a goal to personally read one to two books each month by reading around 30 pages a day. You can control that, and therefore, influence your goal setting success.
Trust me. Goal setting can be tough and you want to make sure you have as many things going your way as possible. So when setting goals for yourself, be sure to set ones that you can actually influence and control.
Implementing your short term goals
So, you’re ready to set some short term goals for yourself. Great! I have a few options to help you do so.
If you’re serious about goal setting, I highly encourage you to check out my goal setting course.
I know you’re excited and ready to start changing your life for the better. My course will give you what you need to actually set and achieve your goals. No fluff, just results.
You can check it out here.
If you want to check out my free posts before enrolling in my course, works for me! I recommend the following posts:
- Learn how to set goals in this post
- Explore how to achieve your goals here
- Recognize the various goal tracker tools you can use along the way
- Understand how to achieve your daily goals in this how-to
- Oh and also be sure to check out my goal setting guide
If you feel like you’ve got the goal setting process down, but want some additional resources to help you better manage your time, check out these posts:
- Learn about some awesome productivity hacks here
- Check out my post on time management skills
- Find out what my favorite productivity apps are
- Learn about the Pomodoro technique here
- Discover my top time management strategies in this post
Moving forward with your short term goals
Use short term goals to your advantage. Start setting them and start working towards your long term vision.
It will take time, but it’s better than the alternative of making no progress at all.
You just need to take one step forward each day and with time, you will have a mountain of amazing results to show for it.
You got this!