Short Term Goals: Changing Your Life One Step at a Time

Short Term Goals: Changing Your Life One Step at a Time

Setting targets is akin to setting the GPS on a road trip. Just as you wouldn’t set off on a journey without a clear destination in mind, so too should your life have clear goals. And not just any goals. These targets need to be purposeful, realistic, and within your reach to help keep you on track and motivated.

As affirmed by a study from the American Psychological Association, chasing goals is much more than a mere hobby. It’s a game-changer, with the power to infuse your life with purpose, tame those lurking anxieties, give you control, and supercharge your motivation.

But here’s the catch: nailing the right goals isn’t a cakewalk. Without the right tools and understanding, you might find yourself swimming against the tide, unable to commit to a defined path. But take heart. With some determination and effort, you can shape your destiny.

By understanding the difference between long-term, medium-term, and short-term goals, you can arm yourself with the tools to carve your path to success. In this post, we’ll zone in on the short-term goal—what exactly is it, and how can it serve as a springboard for your success?

What is a Short-term Goal?

A short-term goal is something you want to accomplish soon, typically within weeks or months. These goals serve as milestones, guiding you toward long-term aspirations. They not only provide a clear roadmap to success but also keep you focused and motivated.

Short-term goals can take various forms. They can be as simple as completing tasks on your daily to-do list or organizing your living space. Also, accomplishing short-term goals can help you achieve one larger goal. For example, if your ambition is to become a lawyer, earning a degree is a necessary step toward entering law school and securing internships.

To obtain your degree, you must pass multiple courses with various assignments. A short-term goal, such as achieving an A+ on your midterm, directly aligns with your long-term goal of becoming a lawyer, albeit on a smaller scale.

However, not every goal needs to contribute to a larger purpose. If one day you wake up and desire to finish work early to enjoy the sunset during your evening stroll, that’s a perfectly valid goal. Each step you take, whether it’s related to your health or profession, shapes your life and career.

The Importance of Setting Short-term Goals

Imagine your life as a coloring book. The black and white outlines represent your long-term goals, while the vibrant hues represent your short-term goals. Just like selecting the best-colored pencil for your artwork, choose short-term goals that keep propelling you forward.

Setting short-term goals helps add vivid colors to your life’s canvas. These goals are like quick brushstrokes, adding excitement and variety to the overall picture. They are not just random strokes but purposeful choices that contribute to the masterpiece of your future.

Setting specific short-term goals has a range of benefits. Firstly, they are achievable within a short period, making them perfect for meeting tight deadlines. Selecting the right colors, or goals, ensures that each stroke contributes to the overall beauty of your life’s painting. Also, accomplishing these goals rapidly provides a sense of accomplishment and fuels your motivation. Just as completing a section of a coloring book page brings satisfaction, achieving short-term goals brings a sense of progress.

In the grand picture of your life, short-term goals serve as essential highlights. They are not distractions but integral elements that enhance the beauty and depth of your journey. These goals act as the bold and vibrant strokes that make your life’s artwork unique and captivating.

Short-term goals can also bolster your confidence and offer quick results. Checking off tasks from your to-do list is satisfying and boosts your self-belief. Each completed goal is like adding a burst of color to your life, making it more vibrant and fulfilling. They also help you beat procrastination by keeping you on your toes and nudging you towards your long-term objectives.

The Difference Between Short-term Goals and Long-term Goals

While both short-term and long-term goals play crucial roles in shaping your future, they differ substantially in terms of strategy, number, timeline, difficulty, and flexibility.

Strategy: Short-term goals are usually tied to your current performance and situation. These goals are immediate, tangible objectives that you can accomplish within a short period. On the other hand, long-term goals are highly tied to your mission and strategic vision for your life and career. They embody your aspirations and dreams that you hope to achieve over a prolonged period.

Number: You can have several short-term goals in multiple categories running simultaneously. These may span different areas of your life, such as personal, professional, and health-related goals. Conversely, you will likely have a limited number of long-term goals in your life as they often represent bigger dreams or milestones.

Timeline: Short-term goals are likely measured by weeks, months, or quarters. These goals have a definite end point, making them easier to plan and manage. In contrast, long-term goals can be measured by years and may have an undefined timeline. They require a more extensive commitment and strategic planning.

Difficulty: It is much easier to achieve short-term goals because you can easily see progress. The satisfaction of achieving these goals boosts your morale and motivates you to reach for more. Long-term goals, however, are difficult and require patience as there is no immediate, obvious payoff. They require a consistent effort and a strong determination to stay committed to your dreams.

Flexibility: Because short-term goals have clearer and closer deadlines, they’re fairly inflexible. You need to stay committed to these goals to achieve them within the stipulated timeframe. However because long-term goals have a broader timeline, they are easily impacted by life circumstances or changing passions. They offer more room for adaptation and modification as and when needed.

Goals vs. Aspirations

Often, we use the terms “goals” and “aspirations” interchangeably. However, it’s important to understand the distinction between them. Goals and aspirations differ in terms of specificity, actionable steps, and timeline.

Goals are specific and actionable. They are the targets we set for ourselves, accompanied by a clear roadmap to achieve them. Goals are tied to measurable outcomes and have concrete timelines. For example, a goal could be to increase quarterly revenue by 15% or to lose 10 pounds in two months. These goals are achievable, clear, and actionable.

On the other hand, aspirations are more general and future-oriented. They represent our desires and dreams that we strive for in the long term. For instance, aspiring to be a successful entrepreneur or to lead a healthy and fulfilling life. Aspirations inspire us and provide direction, even if we don’t have a concrete plan yet.

Let’s take the example of aspiring to be a renowned author. It’s a big, ambitious dream. However, to become that person, it’s essential to set and achieve specific development goals. For instance, committing to writing for an hour every morning or finishing a chapter each week. These specific goals help us visualize our future selves and take concrete steps toward becoming that person. Personal development goals act as stepping stones to reach our aspirations.

How to Set Goals For the Short Term and Achieve Them - Brad Sugars

How to Set Goals For the Short Term and Achieve Them

Setting and achieving short-term goals is no easy task; it requires focus, clarity, and a solid action plan. Whether it’s about progressing in your career, fostering personal growth, or enhancing your health, every successful journey begins with a well defined goal. In this section, we’ll guide you through a simple and effective process to set your short-term goals and offer practical tips to help you accomplish them.

1. Identify What You Want to Accomplish

Start by reflecting on what you want to achieve shortly. This could be anything from learning a new skill, improving a specific aspect of your business, or even personal objectives like reading more books. Be specific about what you want. Instead of saying “I want to get better at business”, you might say “I want to increase my sales by 20% in the next quarter”. This clarity will help you develop a strong action plan later.

2. Work Step by Step

Once you know what you want to achieve, break it down into manageable steps. If your goal is to increase sales, identify the steps needed to achieve this. You may need to improve your marketing strategy, reach out to more potential clients, or offer better customer service. Each of these becomes a step in your plan. Create a timeline for each step, and stick to it. Each small success will bring you closer to your ultimate goal.

3. Use the SMART Goal Method

The SMART goal method is a proven technique for setting actionable tasks. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. Let’s put this into context. Suppose your goal is to increase sales. Make it Specific by stating how much you aim to increase. Make it Measurable, for example, by setting a 20% sales growth target.

Ensure it’s Achievable; don’t aim for a 100% increase if that’s unrealistic. It’s Relevant if it aligns with your broader business strategy. Make it Time-based by giving a deadline, say, in three months. Thus, using the SMART goal method helps you to clearly define, track, and achieve your short-term goals.

4. Distinguish Between Process Goals and Outcome Goals

It’s crucial to differentiate between process goals and outcome goals when setting your targets. An outcome goal is the result you want to achieve, like increasing sales by 20% in the next quarter. It is the final result of your efforts and can be influenced by factors beyond your control. In contrast, a process goal focuses on the actions you need to take to reach your outcome goal.

For instance, improving customer service or enhancing your marketing strategy can be process goals that contribute to your outcome goal. By focusing on these process goals, you directly influence your daily activities and actions, which ultimately leads to achieving your outcome goal. Although we can’t always control the outcome, we can control the process.

5. Start Small

Begin with manageable objectives. It can be tempting to aim high and set lofty goals, however, this can lead to frustration if they seem unreachable. Smaller, achievable goals not only boost confidence but also keep you motivated in your journey.

If you aim to increase sales, start by targeting a realistic 5% increase. Once you’ve achieved this, you can gradually aim higher. Small victories accumulate over time, leading to significant achievements. So remember, start small and stay consistent to reach your bigger targets.

6. Review Your Progress

Regularly reviewing your progress is key to achieving your short-term goals. Check-in weekly or monthly to reassess your strategy and make necessary adjustments. This allows you to spot any issues early and to stay on track toward your goal. Evaluating progress also offers a chance to celebrate your small wins, keeping you motivated and energized for the journey ahead. Remember, it’s not about speed, but consistency. Stick to the plan, and you’ll see your efforts pay off.

7. Reward & Motivate Yourself

Rewarding yourself is a vital part of reaching your short-term goals. When you reach a milestone, take a moment to celebrate. This doesn’t mean breaking the bank. A simple treat, like your favorite meal or a day off, can do wonders for your mood.

These rewards motivate you to keep pushing towards your bigger goals. To stay motivated in the long run, keep your goals visible. Write them down and place them where you can see them every day. This way, you’re reminded of what you’re working towards.

8. Schedule Your Goals

Scheduling plays a crucial role in achieving your short-term goals. Having a clear timetable helps you stay on track and manage your time effectively. For example, if your goal is to increase sales by 20%, schedule daily or weekly tasks focused on achieving this.

This might include allocating time for client meetings, marketing activities, or sales training. Make sure your schedule is realistic and flexible, allowing for unexpected challenges. A well-structured schedule keeps your goals at the forefront, enhancing your focus and dedication.

Using Short-term Goals for Professional Development

Short-term goals play a crucial role in your professional life. They are like the rungs of a ladder, each representing a milestone that leads to the ultimate career objective. For instance, if becoming a department manager is the end goal, short-term goals could include attending leadership training, enhancing public speaking skills, or gaining experience through small team projects.

To effectively utilize short-term goals for professional development, it is important to align them with your long-term career ambitions. Each short-term goal should serve as a stepping stone that brings you closer to your ultimate professional objective. Incorporating a range of skills, from technical expertise specific to your profession to soft skills like communication and leadership, is essential.

Remember to set measurable goals. Instead of having vague goals like “improve leadership skills,” set clear objectives like “complete a leadership course within the next three months.” This provides a specific target and a deadline, making it easier to focus and measure progress.

Don’t hesitate to adjust your goals as needed. The professional landscape is dynamic, and what may have seemed like a worthwhile goal a year ago may not hold today. Regularly review and update your short-term goals to ensure they remain aligned with your long-term career aspirations and the ever-evolving business environment.

Lastly, keep in mind that professional development is not solely about career advancement. It is also about personal growth, job satisfaction, and making a valuable contribution to your organization. By setting and achieving short-term goals, you continuously improve, grow, and make significant progress in your professional journey.

How to Track Short-term Goals More Effectively - Brad Sugars

How to Track Short-term Goals More Effectively

Keeping a keen eye on your short term goals is crucial to your success. How do you know if you’re on the right track? How can you adjust your sails if you don’t have a clear view of where you’re headed? In this section, we’ll take a closer look at effective methods to track your goals, helping you stay focused, adjust your plans as necessary, and ultimately, reach your target.

Bullet Journal

A bullet journal is an amazing tool for keeping track of your short-term goals. It’s a customizable organizing system that you can tailor to your needs. You can include daily, weekly, or monthly task lists related to your goals.

Each completed task can be crossed off, giving you a tangible sense of achievement. It’s a visual way to map your progress and helps you stay committed to your tasks. The beauty of a bullet journal lies in its simplicity and adaptability. You can make it as minimalistic or as detailed as you like.

Goal Setting & Tracking Apps

In today’s digital age, we’re lucky to have a wide variety of goal-setting and tracking apps that can help us make progress towards our short-term goals. Apps like Trello, Asana, or Evernote are fantastic tools for organizing our tasks, setting deadlines, and keeping track of our progress.

The best part is, that they have user-friendly interfaces that make it super easy to stay on top of our goals on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. And the best part? These apps are mobile, so we can keep tabs on our goals no matter where we are.

Buddy System

The buddy system is a fantastic way to stay accountable on your journey towards achieving short-term goals. Pair up with a friend, colleague, or mentor who is also aiming to reach their own goals.

This way, you can hold each other accountable, and check in regularly to discuss progress, hurdles, and successes. It’s not just about keeping each other on track, it’s also about providing moral support, sharing ideas, and learning from each other’s experiences. This mutual support can make the task of achieving goals more enjoyable and less daunting.

Examples of Short-term Goals

Let’s take a look at some specific short-term goal examples to get a better idea of what they might look like in different settings.

Short-term Personal Goals

Using short-term personal goals can benefit you in multiple ways. Below are several goal examples to help you get on track:

Exercise Regularly

One might set a goal to exercise for at least 30 minutes as part of the morning routine, five days a week. This tangible, measurable goal not only promotes physical health but can also improve mental well-being.

Improve Sleep Habits

Another short-term individual goal could be to establish a regular sleep schedule. This might involve going to bed and waking up at the same time each day to ensure a full 7-9 hours of sleep, which is crucial for overall health and productivity.

Read More Books

Reading can expand your knowledge and improve your understanding of the world. A short-term goal could be to read one book per month. This not only enhances your intellect but also develops your language and comprehension skills.

Learn a New Skill

From cooking to coding, learning a new skill not only provides personal satisfaction but can also open doors to new opportunities. A short-term goal could be to take an online course or watch instructional videos and practice regularly.

Save Money

Financial goals are essential for personal growth. A short-term goal could be to put a certain amount of monthly money in a savings account. This not only helps in emergencies but also paves the way to financial freedom.

Short-term Career Goals

If you want to advance professionally, you can use short-term goals to improve your workflow and increase output. Here are some common short-term professional goal examples:

Get a Certification

Depending on your industry, getting a new certification might be a worthwhile short-term goal. For instance, if you’re in digital marketing, you might aim to earn a Google Analytics or HubSpot Inbound Marketing certification. These kinds of certifications not only boost your resume but also enhance your skill set.

Attend Networking Events

In any field, knowing the right people can make all the difference. A great short-term goal might be to attend at least two networking events every month. This can help you meet new people in your industry, learn about new opportunities, and even gain new clients or partnerships.

Improve Public Speaking Skills

If you want to move up in your career, being a confident public speaker can be a big help. A short-term goal might be to join a local Toastmasters club or take a public speaking class. You could also aim to practice your skills in a real-world setting, like a meeting or speaking event.

Learn a New Software

If there’s a tool or software that’s commonly used in your industry but you’re not familiar with, make it a short-term goal to learn. Whether it’s Photoshop for designers, Excel for analysts, or Salesforce for sales professionals, gaining proficiency can help you stand out.

Short-term Financial Goals

Good short-term financial goals can help you stay on track with your spending, saving, and investing. Here are some examples of goals you may set:

Create a Budget and Stick to It

Creating a budget and sticking to it is a fundamental short-term financial goal. A budget helps you understand where your money is going and how to control your spending. For example, you might plan to limit dining out to two times per week or limit your online shopping budget each month.

Build an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is a safety net that can cover 3-6 months of living expenses. This short-term goal can provide peace of mind in case of unexpected expenses like car repairs or medical bills. For this, you might aim to save a specific amount each month until you reach your target.

Pay Off Credit Card Debt

If you have outstanding credit card debt, paying it off can be a meaningful short-term goal. This might involve making larger monthly payments or using a debt snowball or avalanche method to reduce your debt faster.

Save for a Big Purchase

Whether it’s a new car, a vacation, or a down payment for a house, saving for a big purchase is a common short-term financial goal. This involves setting a target amount and a timeline, then saving a specific amount each month to reach your goal.

Invest in a Retirement Account

If you haven’t started investing in a retirement account yet, this could be a great short-term goal. Even small monthly contributions can grow significantly over time thanks to the power of compound interest. If your employer offers a matching contribution, aim to take full advantage of it.

Short-term Organizational Goals

Short-term goals are important stepping stones toward the achievement of a company’s long-term objectives. Setting short-term goals can help keep everyone aligned and focused. Let’s go through some goal examples:

Increase Sales Revenue

A common short-term business goal is to increase sales revenue. This may be done by a certain percentage or a specific dollar amount over a defined period. Tactics to achieve this could include introducing a new marketing campaign, improving sales techniques, or launching a new product.

Improve Customer Satisfaction

Organizations often set short-term goals around improving customer satisfaction. This might involve aiming for a specific increase in a customer satisfaction score or reducing the number of customer complaints received. Implementing improvements in customer service training, enhancing product quality, or better managing customer expectations may aid this goal.

Launch a New Product or Service

If your organization has been developing a new product or service, a relevant short-term work goal might be successfully launching it within a set timeframe. This could include goals around the number of units sold, the number of sign-ups received, or the revenue generated.

Reduce Operational Costs

Companies often aim to reduce operational costs as a short-term goal. This could involve making the company’s processes more efficient, negotiating better deals with suppliers, or reducing waste in production.

Improve Employee Engagement

A more internally focused short-term goal could be to improve employee engagement. This could be measured by an increase in an employee engagement score, reductions in staff turnover, or an increase in the number of employees participating in company activities.


What is an attainable short-term goal?

An attainable short-term goal is one that you can achieve within a relatively short period of time, usually within a year. These goals are specific, measurable, and within your capacity to achieve, considering the resources and time you have.

For instance, if you’re a small business owner, a realistic short-term goal could be to increase your social media followers by 20% in the next three months. This goal is specific (increasing social media followers), measurable (by 20%), and has a defined timeframe (next three months). By breaking down your long-term goals into smaller, short-term goals, you can make consistent progress and feel a sense of accomplishment along the way.

What are some short-term goals for a job interview?

When preparing for a job interview, it’s important to set some short-term goals that align with the specific field. You can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise, highlight your soft skills such as communication and teamwork, or even share a detailed plan on how you’ll contribute to ongoing projects within the company.

Another great goal could be to learn a new software that’s commonly used in your desired role, or commit to improving a specific skill that’s vital for the job. These goals not only show that you’re well-prepared, but also eager to make an immediate impact and add value to the company.

How can short-term goals best work towards accomplishing long-term career goals?

Short-term goals can help you achieve your long-term career goals. They act as stepping stones towards your bigger objectives, breaking down the daunting task into manageable parts.

For example, if your long-term goal is to become a marketing manager, relevant short-term goals could include getting certified in digital marketing, reaching specific sales targets, or taking on project lead roles to develop leadership skills.

Each accomplished short-term goal brings you closer to your ultimate career aspiration. Plus, they provide motivation and a confidence boost along the way. Keep pushing forward!

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