We all want to achieve something great one day. Maybe it’s a promotion, visiting other countries, or saving up for your dream house. How we get there is a journey that requires planning and strategy. However, before you even begin, you need to know where you are going. Without a destination in mind, you will either keep moving aimlessly – wasting precious time – or get lost altogether.
Likewise, when you want to achieve something in life, you need to set goals. Goals are crucial in our lives, and they help to keep us on the right path to success. Having no goal is like driving a car blindfolded.
Have you ever asked yourself how your life will be five years down the road? There can only be three predictions for your life in the future: you will be the same, you will be worse, or you will be better.
If asked, most of you would choose the third option. However, you can’t achieve that if you haven’t set a destination for your journey. That’s why you need to set short-term and long-term objectives.
What Do ‘Long-Term Goals’ Mean?
Goals are motivational tools that help keep your eyes on the bigger picture. Without them, you will lose focus somewhere along the way.
A long-term goal is what you plan to achieve in the far future. These are goals that you cannot achieve right away and may take a considerable amount of time (often years) and effort to accomplish. We are talking about two or more years. Long-term objectives require that you plan your life’s approach to systematically work your way towards getting to that important milestone.
The thing with long-term goals is that they don’t happen overnight. For example, let’s say you want to create a million dollars’ worth of assets. The first step would be to set a series of short-term objectives that will act as stepping stones to attaining your objectives. So, you may first want to clear your debts, and then learn how to save money and invest in profitable ventures. If you are employed, you may want to find ways to be more productive to get a raise, hence save more.
Difference Between Short-, Medium-, and Long-Term Goals
There is no straight definition of short-term, medium-term, or long-term goals. Goals differ from one person to another. What you may view as a short-term objective, might be viewed as a medium-term goal by someone else.
Generally, short-term objectives are specific and take less time to accomplish compared to medium-term goals. On the other hand, the latter takes less time to achieve than long-term goals.
For most people:
- Short-term objectives are those that take three to six months to accomplish.
- Medium-term goals take 6-18 months to accomplish.
- Long-term goals are those that take 18 months and more to accomplish
The Power of Short-Term Goals
Short-term objectives are a step-by-step system or a series of milestones, that pave the way towards your long-term goals. If formulated correctly, they give you a clear path into accomplishing something that would otherwise seem impossible.
Short-term objectives have several benefits, which include:
Achievability – If you set short, attainable goals, you always get motivated to move forward. For instance, you can say, “I’ll go for a run after work today or when I wake up every morning.”Meanwhile, you can say, “I want $300 by the end month so I’ll save $10 every day.” These are short-term goals that you can achieve without waiting too long.
Focus – With short-term objectives, the path is clear, and you can easily stay focused on one thing at a time. Doing so will help you stay motivated and push you to become more productive. You will less likely get discouraged midway because the results of your efforts come sooner than if you set long-term goals.
Vision – Short-term objectives keep reminding you the purpose of all the effort and hard work that you put in. If you set valid short-term objectives, you are assured of success. Every time you complete a short-term objective, you become motivated to move towards your long-term goals.
Kill Procrastination – Since short-term objectives are small, clear, and specific, you don’t need much effort to achieve them, reducing the need to procrastinate.
Short-Term Goals Examples
- Get a job for the summer
- Paint the porch and living room
- Lose six pounds
- Develop a morning routine
- Learn one good habit each month
Tips to Help You Create Short-Term Goals
- Identify long-term goals. First, you need to identify your long-term goals, which you will then break down into smaller, bite-sized goals that you can work with. These are short-term objectives that will push you towards reaching your end game.
- Set SMART goals. Your goals must be specific, measurable, achievable/attainable, relevant/realistic, and time-based.
- Commit to one or two goals at a time. Having too much on your plate will leave you confused, and you might start to lose focus. Committing to a few objectives at a time will make you more accountable.
Why Long-Term Goals Are Important
Sure, long-term goals may seem so far away and unreachable. However, they motivate you to set short-term goals that will culminate in that one big goal. That’s not all. Long term goals also:
- Force you to evaluate your priorities in life and focus on projects that really matter
- Enable you to live a fulfilled and happy life
- Motivate you to work towards achieving the short-term objectives
- Motivate you to become a good planner
Long-Term Goals Examples
- Become a public speaker
- Retire by age 50
- Buy my own property
- Acquire a master’s degree
- Travel to Europe for leisure
- Lose 20 pounds by working out, and of course, develop abs
- Save up for retirement
- Increase my earnings by learning new skills
Tips to Help You Create Long-Term Goals
- Create a personal mission statement. This is a short, one- or two-sentence statement that captures your core values, priorities, objectives, and purpose of life.
- Break long-term goals into smaller attainable steps that you can manage.
- Categorize your goals based on different areas of your life. For example, you can have career, personal, business, financial, education, family, and health goals, to name a few. With that in mind, adjust your plans accordingly to match those priorities.
- Create long-term goal deadlines. This will give meaning to each goal, and you can focus on finishing them before the deadline.
- Revisit your goals every year and edit accordingly to reflect the changing priorities.
- Track your progress. The key to ensuring that you are headed the right way is to keep monitor of your progress. You can do so by writing in a journal what you have completed for your goal every day or use a printable planner. By tracking your progress, you will get excited every time you hit a target, further increasing your motivation.
How to Set and Reach Your Long-Term Goals
Your commitment, effort, and hard work will play a prominent role in your success. Therefore, you need to formulate your intentions the correct way to avoid obstacles along the way. The reality, however, is that no matter how well you have structured your goals, barriers are inevitable. Sometimes, we just lose focus and motivation, we get too busy, or we simply forget about our plans.
So, when setting short-term and long-term goals, here are a few steps to consider:
1. Set Specific Goals
You must have come across the question, “What are your long-term goals?” several times in your lifetime. You may have heard it either from your teachers, parents, or during an interview. When you were a kid, you had straight answers to that question – policeman, president, doctor, engineer. These are very specific roles.
So, it is important to think about your long-term goals in concrete terms. Don’t just say “In five years I want to be rich.” Instead, say, “In five years, I want to own my own house and my dream car,” or “I want to be making enough money to take a two-week vacation in Maldives.”
2. Be Flexible
Learn to overcome barriers and obstacles along the way. You may need to modify your plans from time to time, but the secret to reaching your objectives is not just to keep moving. It is to keep moving according to your plan. Flexibility means letting go of goals that are not realistic and focusing your energy on achievable goals.
3. Take Action
When you set a specific goal, pair it with an actionable plan. For instance, if your goal is to become a life coach, start by taking coaching and project management classes. You need to learn as much as possible about your new career path, but you also need to know how to manage your time and projects.
4. Write Down Your Goals
A goal that is not written down is just wishful thinking. The majority of people have a lot of wishes and dreams, but not concrete goals. When you write down a specific goal, then you will develop a different perspective towards life, and chances of achieving your goals will increase tremendously.
5. Avoid Setting Negative Goals
Your goal should be something you want to become or achieve rather than something you want to avoid. For instance, if you are employed, don’t say, “I don’t want to be stuck in this company for the next three years.” Rather, say “I want to own my own business in the next three years”.
Ready to Start Pursuing Your Goals?
While long terms goals might seem unattainable at first, breaking them into smaller tasks that are easily achievable allows you to create your roadmap to success. Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back from becoming successful.
Start by having a destination, and then set a clear path that defines how you want to get there. Admittedly, you will encounter obstacles as you try to achieve your goals. Don’t give up. Envision what life will be like once you get to accomplish what you’ve planned, visualize that achievement now and let it guide your next steps.
Here’s the thing. You stand a better chance of achieving your goals if you become better at time management. When you plan your time well, you get more done, become more efficient, and subsequently, boost your performance and productivity.
To help you out, try a time management and time tracking app like Traqq that tracks all your hours and monitors the progress of your projects. The program lets you know how many hours you’ve worked and when you need to take a break.
Traqq records crucial data like your activity levels, and those of your employees. That type of data can come handy when you want to analyze your business’ profitability and gauge your employees’ overall performance. As such, you can easily identify areas of weakness and act accordingly.