One question that interviewees often hear at job interviews is, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Does thinking that far out make you nervous? Although long-term visions are important, they can be daunting. You can hold onto your big dream forever, but if you don’t create a ladder of goals to reach the loftiest one, you can get bored, distracted or discouraged along the way.
In this article, you’ll learn some short term goal examples that can be adapted to any lifestyle.
What’s the Difference Between Long and Short Term Goals?
Long term goals are typically those that would take at least one year to achieve. Short term goals take less than 12 months. You can accomplish some short term goals in a matter of minutes. Others can take weeks or months to reach.
Both types of goal are important. If you focus on setting short term goals without a vision for the future, you will probably feel busy plenty of the time. You will have lots of momentum as you check things off of your list.
However, where are those short term goals taking you? If you’ve set things up effectively, your short term goals are set up to help you reach your long term goals.
Picture the short term goals as rungs on a ladder. The rungs allow you to climb higher. But what if you reach the top and find that the ladder isn’t secured to something?
You’ll feel uncomfortable, at the very least. But the worst that could happen is that you exhaust yourself. If the top of the ladder isn’t resting on your long term goal, you might fall off and find yourself at the beginning. You might even get hurt.
Setting short term goals without stacking them to achieve a long term objective can be a waste of energy. However, you’ll learn a little later why setting small goals, or intentions, can align your desires and actions so that you can better achieve your long term goals.
What if you’re great at looking at the bigger picture but don’t set short term goals along the way? You may never accomplish your greatest dreams. You might be able to envision ultimate success, but you may get lost on the way because you haven’t set yourself up with a proper map.
Short Term Goals Are the Action Steps
One way to think about short term goals is by looking at them as action steps. Instead of considering what you can accomplish, think about what you can do to achieve it.
It’s almost always most efficient to work backward when setting short term goals. Otherwise, you’ll spend all of your time building that ladder to nowhere.
Begin by creating a solid vision in your head. Maybe this is the culmination of your life’s work. Perhaps it’s where you’ll be in five years. It doesn’t matter how big or far away this dream is. You’ll work backward from the vision to set up short term goals, breaking them down as though you’re writing an outline.
You can work through this process to create as many goals in any category of your life. For example, you might have a 10-year goal for your career and a different one for your personal life. Those would be two different ladders with separate endpoints. You could set up as many rungs on those ladders as you needed to achieve the objectives.
How to Create Short Term Goals
Here is one method for setting up your short term goals so that they relate to your long term goals:
Start with some meditation/vision work. Go somewhere with no distractions, and allow yourself an hour to complete this process. Get comfortable on a chair or lying flat.
Allow yourself to relax as you bring your awareness to your breathing. You may notice that you have a lot of thoughts going through your head. That’s completely normal. Every time that happens, just bring your attention to your breathing.
After a few minutes, ask yourself a question that relates to your life or career. Some examples might be:
- Where do I see myself in 5 years?
- Where am I?
- Who am I with?
- What’s around me?
- What do I see?
- What do I hear?
Let yourself sink into the vision. Notice the important aspects, and bring them back with you as you regain a sense of alertness and open your eyes. Write down what came to you in the vision.
Now, you can use this to create at least one long-term goal. Perhaps you saw yourself speaking to an audience of thousands of people. You were holding up a book that you wrote.
You could split this vision into two goals:
- Motivational speaking
- Writing a book
There is no right way to do this. Do it in a way that makes sense to you.
Once you have those larger goals written down, you can break them down. Ask yourself, “What are three goals that support the larger one?” Some examples of short term goals if you’re writing a book might be:
- Start a blog
- Reach out to agents
- Spend 30 minutes a day writing in a journal
From here, you can transform the supporting goals into action steps. Ask yourself, “What action steps do I need to take to achieve each of these short term goals?” That might look like this:
- Start a blog – Write 10 articles; decide on a domain name, hire a web designer
- Reach out to agents – Write a query letter; research agents in my niche
- Spend 30 minutes a day writing in a journal – Buy a journal; schedule a 30-minute chunk of time in my calendar
You can continue breaking down the goals to make them smaller. This is especially helpful if you’re the kind of person who gets easily overwhelmed. Setting short term goals should make your life feel more manageable, not more complicated.
Best Practices for Setting Yourself Up for Success
Experts say that you can get the most out of this practice by following the golden rules of goal setting. These are:
- Set goals that motivate you – Throughout your life, you’ll be inundated with ideas of what success means. However, your parents’ or boss’s definition of success may not be the same as yours. Make sure that your goals are in line with your personal values, beliefs and desires. If you’re not excited about your goals, you probably won’t end up achieving them.
- Set SMART goals – SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. This is a helpful acronym to remember when you’re breaking down larger goals into smaller ones. For every short term goal example, make sure that it’s clear, manageable and doesn’t make you feel overwhelmed. Consider adding a time frame to it so that you have a deadline to keep yourself on track.
- Write them down – You already have plenty of information swimming around your head at any given time. If you don’t write down your goals, they’ll just hover in your brain space, where they can get lost. Writing your goals down helps you clarify them, clear your mind to work on more creative tasks and hold yourself accountable for achieving them.
- Create an action plan – If you’ve created outcome-based goals, you have to determine the action steps that are necessary for achieving them. If you followed the steps outlined above, you have already outlined your action plan. As you go through your short term goals, ask yourself, “How can I take action on this ASAP?”
- Be persistent and flexible – Even if you’ve created a detailed outline and timeline for your action steps, short term goals and long term objectives, things may not go according to plan. Make sure that you allow for some flexibility. Be patient, and stick with it. You need to be willing to make adjustments, noticing what’s not working and what might work better.
Are Short Term Goals the Same as Intentions?
When looking at short term goals, you might wonder, “How can I make sure that I achieve them?” That’s a tough question to answer because life can always get in the way. However, breaking them down and focusing on action steps, as described above, can keep you on track.
Still, if your goals are outcome-based, you don’t have total control over them. When life happens, the entire plan can change.
Therefore, some experts recommend setting intentions instead of goals. Intentions are ways that you can be, show up and act to stay in alignment with what you want.
Think of it this way: You can’t always predict or control the circumstances that life throws your way. But you can control the way that you respond, the choices that you make and the things that you do.
Intentions are often based on your values. They define who you want to be and what you want to give to the world.
Some examples of intentions are:
- I intend to demonstrate acts of kindness today, at home and in the workplace.
- I intend to be open to information that can help me reach my goals.
- I intend to express gratitude for what I have.
- I intend to focus on the ease instead of the difficulties.
- I intend to send love out when I’m feeling frustrated.
Intentions could be the same as your short term goals. However, they’re more likely to be the states of being that allow you to achieve your short term goals.
How Setting Micro Goals Keeps You Aligned
You can set all of the goals that you want, but if you don’t take action toward them, you won’t achieve them. That part seems obvious.
But there’s another danger to setting goals that you don’t intend to reach—you teach your subconscious self that you can’t trust yourself.
Think about it this way. You have desires. Although you can probably voice many of your desires, some are deeply embedded in your subconscious. Your psyche is always trying to give you clues to your desires.
Some people call this your intuition. Some people are also adept at tuning into their intuition and trusting it to guide them. Those are usually the people who make success look like something easy to achieve.
That’s because they trust themselves. They know that they can analyze a situation, think as logically as they want and weigh the pros and cons, but if they get a gut feeling that it’s not the right thing to do, they’ll make the right choice.
These types of people are usually efficient decision-makers because they don’t get caught up in stories, old patterns or drama. They just listen to their instincts.
Everyone is born with intuition. We all have the capacity to let it guide us.
But if you say that you’ll do something and then go against it, your subconscious learns that you’re not going to do what it tells you to do anyway. It’s like any relationship. If someone tells you to do something and you never listen, that person is going to stop communicating with you.
When you set goals or intentions without following through, you create a block between your inner wisdom and what you rationalize in your mind. You stop paying attention to messages that come from your deep desires.
When you do this repeatedly, you end up feeling a lot of friction. That’s because you might be going against what your subconscious knows is best.
Conversely, think about what could happen if you repeatedly follow through on your intentions. Your subconscious learns that it can keep sending you messages because you’re the type of person that listens.
What Are Some Examples of Micro Goals?
You can practice your goal-setting muscles by setting micro goals. A micro goal can be as small as saying, “I’m going to drink two sips of this water,” and then doing it.
Try stating what you intend to do right before you do it. You’ll create a connection between your conscious and subconscious mind, and those two aspects of your psyche will begin to communicate with one another more often. Then all you have to do is go with the flow.
How are micro goals different than intentions? They’re fairly similar. Micro goals should be things that you know that you can attain. However, whereas intentions can be large scale, micro goals are accomplishable in seconds or minutes.
Some other examples of micro goals are:
- I’m going to write down three things I’m grateful for right now.
- I’m going to eat a fresh fruit.
- I’m going to study for 15 minutes before I check my Facebook page.
- I’m not going to look at my phone for the next 30 minutes.
If this sounds silly to you, then maybe you’re already good at setting micro goals. Or maybe you have never thought about doing this. Imagine what could align for you if you brought your attention to the most minuscule tasks. When you can do those with mindfulness and flow, you can easily expand what you’re able to handle.
What Are Some Examples of Short Term Goals?
Shawn Lim says that short term goals are like the headlights on your car. They let you see what’s immediately in front of you. Long term goals are like the map that shows you the route from where you are now to your ultimate destination.
Here are some examples of short term goals that you can set for your career, finances, health or personal life.
Examples of Short Term Career Goals
Let’s say that you want a promotion. Your five-year plan is to be a department supervisor at your firm. Right now, you’re one among thousands of customer service reps. How can you set short term goals to align with your five-year plan?
- Show up for work 10 minutes early every day.
- Find out exactly what a department supervisor handles.
- Ask if you can take on some of those responsibilities.
- Learn what it will take to get promoted.
- Schedule ways to accomplish those things at work every week.
- Make a list of what you’ve accomplished in your position so far.
- Keep a running list of new achievements.
- Make sure that you schedule regular assessments and reviews with your boss.
Examples of Short Term Online Business Goals
If you run an online business, you’re probably familiar with different types of goals. For example, securing new followers on social media is just as important as getting those targets to purchase from you. However, the conversions are the larger goals, and getting followers might be considered a short-term goal.
Some short-term goals for online businesses are:
- Getting more newsletter subscribers
- Obtaining registrants for a webinar
- Securing more followers on social media
- Reach out to 5 influencers per day
- Write a new blog post every week
- Get 10 links back to your website this week
Examples of Short Term Financial Goals:
Many people set goals that have to do with their financial success. Although you may have your eye on some property or a fancy car, you have to work up to those big goals. Some short term goals that you can set to achieve your financial visions are:
- Setting up an investment account
- Putting a certain amount of money in your investment accounts every week
- Talking to your spouse about budgeting
- Writing down all of your income and expenses for the next week
- Make sure that your assets are insured
- Make a plan for paying down debt
- Cut back on spending until you’ve saved up $1,000
- Cut costs on one of your bills by reducing your extras or negotiating a lower fee
Examples of Short Term Health Goals:
At some point in your life, you’ve probably set a health goal. Many people set fitness goals around the new year. We all know that New Year’s resolutions don’t usually stick. One mistake that people make when setting fitness goals is trying to do too much at once. Creating short term goals can make you more successful whether you’re trying to lift heavier weights or shed pounds.
Some examples of short term health goals include:
- Move your body for 10 minutes a day every day this week
- Go to the gym three times this week
- Weigh yourself every day
- Eat at least two servings of fresh vegetables with every meal
- Make an appointment for a physical exam
Examples of Short Term Personal Goals:
Do you set personal goals for yourself? Many people are productive when it comes to their careers or finances, but they forget to give the same attention to their personal lives. Setting personal goals may be the key to living a meaningful, purpose-filled life.
Most people don’t live to work; they work to live. They want career success in hopes that they can achieve financial freedom. They want to feel connected to other people. They want to love and be loved in return.
One way to ensure that you have this kind of balance in your life is—you guessed it—setting goals.
Some examples of short term personal goals include:
- Reach out to one friend you haven’t talked to in a while
- Schedule a vacation this year
- Spend an hour in nature every week
- Take a cooking class
- Read one book this month
What Are The Benefits of Setting Short Term Goals?
Just as a piece of paper can be torn into smaller shreds, any goal can be broken down into smaller segments. Short term goals can be overlooked because of their short deadlines. For example, if you tell yourself, “I plan to eat a healthy dinner tonight,” you might not think that you just set a short term goal.
But if you pay attention to the fact that you just set a short term goal, you can start to see the patterns that you tend to fall into. You can trust that you are in charge of your success. You just have to pave the path with micro and short term goals.
Short Term Goals are Motivating
Many people don’t think short term goals are important. Fulfilling a small goal may not be as rewarding as achieving the big vision. But if you don’t accomplish the small tasks, you may never get to your big dreams.
Plus, celebrating the small goals keeps you motivated. When you see that you can accomplish anything that you set your mind to, you’ll make your ladders longer. They’ll reach higher until you feel like you’re limitless.
If you’re a procrastinator, try setting the smallest goals possible. Make them easy to achieve. Put a few of them on your to-do list every week.
You’ll be more likely to take on a project if it’s broken into achievable, stress-free chunks than if it’s an overwhelming, abstract ideal. Short-term goals are great for people who tend to procrastinate when they feel stressed.
Short Term Goals Are Realistic
If your big vision isn’t practical, you might get discouraged when you attempt to accomplish it. You may even start to believe that success happens to other people, you aren’t the type of person who will ever be wealthy or you don’t have what it takes to make it big.
When you break down your goals, your lofty aspirations become workable tasks. You might not be able to see how you’ll end up with a mansion in Bali right now, but you can make that goal practical by cutting it down into smaller chunks.
Short Term Goals Show You The Next Step
If you have trouble figuring out how to get from point A to point B, try setting smaller goals. When you have accomplished the first goal, you’ll likely see the path to the next task. If you’re used to establishing short term goals, you’ll know that the route is a short one. You don’t have to be able to envision the entire route to the destination if you can easily plan to move one step at a time.
Creating short term goals gives you the confidence to keep moving forward. You realize that you’re making progress even if you’ve only completed a minor step. As you continue to advance, you gain trust in the fact that your short term goals will stack up to make the long term objectives happen.
Short Term Goals Let You Fine-Tune Your Plan
If you’re working tirelessly toward a huge goal, what happens when you realize that you’re on the wrong path? You’ll have to create a major diversion.
It’s like getting lost on a long highway with no exits. By the time you realize that you’re heading in the wrong direction, you don’t have too many options to travel a different route. You can either keep moving toward your destination. If you can make a U-turn, you can backtrack for miles until you get back to the beginning, where you can start over.
Now imagine that your short term goals are the exits. If you line the highway with them, you have plenty of options for rerouting your path if you need to. Your short term goals give you feedback along the way. You can use them to gauge whether you’re on the right track, and you can use them to adjust the route if necessary.