The Difference Between Short Term and Long Term Goals

Short term goals and long term goals are both important, and the truth is that any successful person has both short term AND long term goals that they are working towards.

You can set your goals according to what you want, but in the end your progress in these goals is up to you.
You can read a lot of examples of long term goals and examples of short term goals, but your goals are probably unique from all the other goals around.

Both types of goals are very important, and you can’t really have one without the other.

What are Long Term Goals and How Can I Set Them?

Long term goals are the overarching objectives that you want to achieve over a longer term.

It could be a goal that you want to accomplish throughout the course of your life, or it could be something that you want to do by the end of the next year.

The truth is that the long term goals are more the general goals that you are working towards, and there is no real length of time that distinguishes the long term and short term goals from each other.

A long term goal will fall into one of the following categories:

Financial – Are you working towards saving up a certain amount of money over a length of time, or are you trying to earn enough to spend on something?

Physical – Are you working towards achieving something in the realm of athletics or your physical condition, or are you trying to overcome a specific disorder or illness?

Career – What is your goal in your professional life? Are you trying to become a CEO, start your own company, or become an expert in your specific field?

Education – Your education will continue long after you leave school, so what are your educational goals that will help you to build up your knowledge for the rest of your life?

Family – Everyone has some kind of family goals that they are working towards, and you must have a number of children that you want to have, or at least a goal of getting married, right?

Pleasure –What are the things that you want to do to enjoy your life? Are you interested in travel, vacations, or certain hobbies?

Public Service – Are you interested in making your world a bit of a better place? If so, how do you want to do it, or what aspect are you interested in?

Attitude – Is there some aspect of your current mindset or attitude that you want to change? If so, what?

These are the most common categories of long term goals, and all of the goals that you set will fall into one of these categories.

You will need to examine each of the goals that you are considering, and you need to think about which of them fall into each category.

It is important that you make progress in all of the areas of your life, and you need to be certain that you are setting some long term goals from each of these categories.

Overall personal development is more important than just being financially and personally successful – but with no family or pleasure to show for it.
If you set goals in each of these long term categories, you will find that you will improve in every area of your life.

What are Short Term Goals and How Can I Set Them?

Short term goals are goals that you can start working on right now, and they are the smaller steps that will make up the larger long term goals.

You can usually start putting short term goals into practice right now, as they are simple goals like “I want to start cutting back my monthly food shopping expenses,” “I want to start eating less food,” or “I want to save more money every month.

You can start working towards these goals immediately, as they are shorter term and thus easier to achieve.

The purpose of short term goals is to have a goal that you can work towards now, while keeping the long term goal in mind as you make progress.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” a wise man once said, and these short term goals are simpler goals that you will start working towards with that single step.

You won’t need to try so hard to reach these short term goals, but it will be just as important that you reach them in order to reach the long term goals.

Think about it:

Say your goal is to save $120,000 over the next 10 years. That long term goal will break down into a shorter goal of $12,000 per year, which is exactly $1,000 per month.
For those who want to start making shorter term goals, you can break it down into $250 per week (more or less), or even $35 per day.
This will make things a bit easier for you to start working towards, as you will have a step that you can take today that will make it possible for you to reach that far off goal in the distant future.

Setting SMART Goals

Setting goals is important, but it is important that you set your goals intelligently. If you are going to be able to achieve that goal, it has to be something that you can do, right? SMART goals are goals that are:

Specific – A goal that is specific is one that you will be able to work towards immediately, as it is something that you can quantity. If you only say, “I want to be a better person,” you’re not really working towards anything specific, so you may end up making progress towards goals that you weren’t even thinking of. If you say, “I want to handle my anger more effectively,” all of a sudden you have a specific goal that you can start working towards today.

Measurable – How measurable is the goal that you are setting for yourself? Do you want to save a lot of money, or do you want to save $100 every month for the next 15 years? If a goal is measureable, you will be able to see how much progress you have made, as well as the areas in which you have failed to reach the goal that you have set. Being able to measure goals not only helps you to see where you have slipped up, but will build your confidence in your ability to reach goals – even when they are a challenge.

Actionable –A goal that is actionable means that you can start working on it right now. How actionable are the goals that you are setting for yourself? Are you going to have to wait for conditions to improve, change, or become perfect? Can you start making small steps of progress towards your overarching goal right now, or do you have to wait? There isn’t a single goal that you can’t start working towards right now – in some way or another, at least.

Relevant – Is this goal really something that matters in your life? Is it really relevant to the person that you want to become, or the person that you are now? If you are an accountant, how relevant is a goal that you set in order to get your degree in acting? What is the course that you want your life to take? The goals that you set now should help you to reach the ultimate destination that your life’s journey will culminate in, so it’s important that you set a goal that is relevant to the person you are now and the person that you want to become.

Time-Bound – A goal that is open ended is one that you will never really make progress on, as you always feel that you have more time. The truth is that you only have so many days, months, and years in order to make any kind of progress, and some goals will not be possible sooner than others. If you are serious about achieving these goals, you are going to have to set a deadline on the goals. It is the only way that you will actually force yourself to continue making progress – no matter what.

Tips for Setting Solid Goals

Setting solid short term and long term goals is easy, but reaching them is always the hardest. Here are some tips to help you as you set and work towards your goals:

1. Prioritize Your Goals –Which of your goals really matter the most, and which are not as important? Obviously you are going to be setting goals that will all be fairly important, or else they wouldn’t be SMART goals. However, there are always going to be some goals that are just a bit more important than others, and it’s imperative that you set these goals with the highest priority. Giving these goals priority will ensure that you get to them first, and will guarantee that they actually are achieved no matter what.

2. Write them down –Writing down a goal takes it from the drawing board into the implementation phase, and that is a very important step. You will never get started making progress on your goals if you don’t take them off the drawing table and start working on them, but putting them on paper helps you to crystalize the goals and make them clear. It will also make it easier for you to remember exactly what your goals are, as well as what each of the steps are that you will need to take in order to reach that goal!

3. Make positive goals –How many of us set goals like ‘I want to not be in debt’ or ‘I want to avoid this mistake’? The goal is good, but the wording is fairly negative. You want to focus on the positive aspects of the goals, as that will give you a positive outlook on the progress that you are making. If you focus on saving money rather than getting out of debt, you will be looking at physical evidence that things are good rather than bad, so set goals that will be positive!

4. Keep short term goals small – If you set short term goals that are too large, you will be giving yourself a short amount of time to make large steps of progress. It is going to be very hard for you to make a lot of progress in the short term, so it’s important that you keep the short term goals small. They have to be achievable, so break your goals into bite-sized chunks that you can work on one day at a time.

5. Focus on performance, not outcome – When setting goals related to your business or personal life, you can’t focus as much on the outcome of your achievements, but more on the performance. If you say, “I want to haul my company out of debt”, you may find that even your perfect performance may not be enough. You have to focus on your performance, as that is the only way that you will be able to realize that you achieved your goals – even if things didn’t go exactly as planned!

6. Check and evaluate – If you are serious about making progress, check over the goals that you have set, evaluate your progress, and determine if you are going at the pace you should be. You will find that this will help you to be smart about your personal progress, and will make it possible for you to see the areas of your life where you really are succeeding – as well as the ones where you need to step it up a bit in order to make as much progress as you should be making.

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