Short term vs long term goals – key differences + examples
August 23, 2021
Goal setting is a strategic definition of what goals you want to achieve and in what field of activity. And planning is essential to accomplishing both short-term and long-term professional and personal goals. It helps to match resources to implement them most efficiently. Having clear short-term and long-term plans will boost your life satisfaction to the highest possible point.
The goal-setting process helps you identify how to set goals that are specific, timely, and realistic. A key to achieve that is to make plans, including short term and long term goals. Without plans, even strong will and high motivation probably won’t be enough to achieve your goals.
Table of Contents:
Benefits of setting goals
Setting goals is also one of the methods of controlling the direction of self-development, a necessary factor on the way to success, as well as improving your life in terms of organization. After doing so, your career and personal life take on meaning and increase your self-esteem.
Setting your goals will allow you to:
- take control of the direction of your life or work;
- create a vision of what your life/business could be like;
- fuel your ambitions;
- keep yourself moving;
- make specific decisions and actions;
- get tangible results;
- keep yourself focused;
- increase your happiness.
Goals change with age, life stages, finances, and even health. It’s important to understand that the plans at age 25 will not be the same as at age 45 or 65. In fact, they may have the same structure, but they will be different.
For example, at 25, you can focus on becoming a leader and climbing the career ladder. At 45 – to become the best leader, remaining true to his own work style and consistently moving forward. However, you can always change your goals and reset your perspective.
Short term goals vs long term goals – key differences
Depending on the time needed to achieve a given goal, they can be:
- short-term – may take one to several months or a year;
- long-term – may take from one to three or five years.
The most obvious difference is the amount of time and resources it takes to complete each goal.
Short term goals consist of needs that can be met today, in a given week, month or even year. For example, you can set a career goal like completing a skills improvement course or a short-term savings goal like putting money into an emergency fund. Short-term goals can also be springboards or practical steps to achieving a long-term goal and frankly, they are often inherently necessary to achieve them. By contrast, the short-term ones are intrinsically temporary and flexible. The biggest mistake you can make is planning only in the short term and expecting that everything will work out in the long run.
Long term goals require more time and patience. Usually, these goals consist of several mini-goals or small steps, so it is essential to define short-term goals in addition to long-term goals. It is said that short-term ones are usually used to support long-term goals that are more complex. For example, a long-term goal might be starting your own business, saving a goal in a retirement account, etc. Clear, long-term goals can sometimes seem overwhelming and even impossible. But when you complete each short-term goal along the way, you’ll finally get where you want.
Goals in different areas of life
Understanding the goal-setting process will help you define where you see yourself for example in five years. Goals can be set in all areas of your life, depending on what is of value and importance to you. We divided them into the following categories:
Health – we do not always have influence over it, but try to create small rituals that will keep you in good shape. A goal in this category may be, for example, to bring a proper work-life balance and to maintain an adequate amount of sleep.
Family – healthy family relationships help bring order to life and maintain peace of mind. Where do you see yourself in a few years? As a single climbing up the career ladder or as a parent? Or maybe both? What actions can you take to improve your current relationship?
Learning & personal development – what competencies will you need to achieve your goal? What skills do you want and should develop? Remember that in a highly competitive market, whoever stands still moves backwards.
Career – define where you want to work in a few years and what you can do now to start following the career path.
Finance – the implementation of non-work plans (travel, hobby, study) involves expenses – the earlier you start organizing your finances, the sooner you will enjoy financial independence.
In each of these categories, it is worth defining a long-term goal and then planning a path to reach these goals, i.e. define short-term goals. Then, after some time, the set goals should be validated, i.g., it is necessary to assess whether the chosen ones are the most important or whether something has changed or happened over time.
Prioritizing means that it’s up to YOU to decide what is the most significant to you at any given time. All goals are important, but you can’t work on them all at once. With that in mind:
- Choose what is most important now.
- Focus mainly on this goal.
- Set additional goals when you feel comfortable with your efforts.
- Change your focus on goals as your life changes – flexibility is always relevant.
Life is more interesting and exciting when there is something to wait for
6 rules to achieve your goals
- Make a commitment;
- Set realistic goals for yourself;
- Define goals;
- Think in favourable terms;
- Plan in writing;
- Set a specific completion date.
The daily lifestyle you create for yourself matters more than anything else. You can do anything. Really. You just need to prioritize
Short term goals – characteristics + examples
The short term goal is something you want to do soon, which could mean this week, a month, or even a year. At the same time, you must have your goals in mind in the long run.
Therefore, it is worth starting at the end, i.e. visualizing your long-term goals and building a plan from the “wrong side”. Short goals are, e.g.:
- daily jogging to maintain physical fitness;
- learning a new skill, e.g. time management, company management etc.;
- attending a language course once a week;
- creating a personal development plan;
- postponing a certain amount every month.
Long term goals – characteristics + examples
The long term goal is something you want to do in the far future. As you can probably guess, long-term goals take time and planning. It usually takes 12 months or several years to achieve them. It could be:
- running a marathon;
- going for a trip around the world for several years;
- obtaining additional education, getting a diploma;
- opening your own business;
- deepening of professional development (e.g. annual participation in soft skills courses);
- building a house.
What’s important while making a plan for long-term goals is to be clear about your future. Then, after defining the direction, it is worth considering the details, like answering the questions about what resources and how much time you need.
Long-term success will not happen unless you start working for it early enough
How to set goals in 7 steps?
The process of setting goals step by step
1. Think about the results you want to get
Before you set a goal, take a closer look at what you want to achieve and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this goal something I really want?
- Is it important enough to devote my precious hours and effort to it?
Use the questions above to determine which goals are most important to you right now, then focus on a few.
2. Create SMART goals
Goals become easier to achieve when they’re SMART goals.
The most important part of setting SMART goals is to specify them. This way, you can clearly track your progress and know when your plan is completed. The more specific you can be about your destination, the more likely you will achieve it.
3. Write down your goals
When you write down your goals, they become real and tangible, not a vague idea that only resides in your mind. After writing down plans:
- keep them prominent – place personal goals on a mirror or near a computer screen;
- place team goals on walls next to everyone’s desks;
- include company goals in internal presentations.
4. Form an action plan
The action plan should include the overall goal you want to achieve and all the steps you need to complete it. Write your purpose and make it stand out, for example, with crayons, markers or colored pencils. You can also use mind mapping as a visual action plan. Creating an action plan in this way activates another part of the brain and cements goals in your mind.
5. Create a timeline
As part of your action plan, use the timeline builder to help you visualize the steps, tasks, and deadlines for achieving your goal. Once you’ve set the dates, try to stick to them as strictly as possible. The timeline creates a sense of urgency, which, in turn, motivates you to stick to your schedule and achieve your goal.
6. Take action
Now that you’ve got everything planned, it’s time to take action. You haven’t done all this work just to forget your purpose. Each step you take should lead to the next one until you reach your goal.
7. Re-evaluate your progress
You need to be highly motivated to achieve your goal. Consider scheduling a weekly assessment, which may include measuring progress and going over the schedule. Once you see how close the finish line is, you will feel more motivated to break through to the end.
If you are a little late with the schedule, make the necessary adjustments and continue. Don’t let this block you or demotivate you. A tool like TimesheetKiller can help you evaluate your progress and measure your efforts perfectly. For example, if you decide to spend an hour a day learning a new language, you can use TSK to check if you managed to achieve it at the end of the week or month.
All your unfulfilled goals are a chance to find out more about yourself and where you want to be
If you did everything in your power to achieve the goal, but you are not achieving it, then: the circumstances could have been against you, you went to the hospital, the car broke down, and you missed some critical opportunity, you agreed to unrealistic deadlines or just at the last minute you changed your mind. Or maybe it was just not the right time to achieve that particular goal.
Make use of the present time and verify the effects of your work. Slow down to consider why you did not achieve the set goal and how to do it in the future. We hope that with a new dose of knowledge from this article, everything will go your way.