Short Term vs. Long Term Goals

Short Term Long Term goals

"A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true." - Greg S. Reid

I will assume that you, like me and most of the world, have a dream. What does it take to achieve that dream? A goal. After all..."a dream without a plan is just a wish" (Katherine Peterson)

You may be asking yourself what a goal is and what the difference between a short-term goal and a long-term goal really is. In this post I will explain all 3 of those terms and give you a few tools to help you get started.

Understanding Makes All the Difference

Believe it or not, this isn't a commonly understood topic. So if you've at times felt confused or frustrated, you are not alone! Thinking that you want a big house one day is very different from actually setting a goal to reach that dream. Many people spend their lives with a huge dream but never achieve it and the difference between those that do and don't comes down to whether you can set appropriate goals.

So lets start with definitions :)

  • Goal: "The object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result."

  • Short Term : "Occurring over or relating to a short period of time"

  • Long term: "Occurring over or relating to a long period of time."

So the goal is what you want and the term is when you get it, or rather...when you work for it. Short term goals will be things that you can work toward and achieve in a relatively short amount of time. This short amount of time can be a week, month, year, or even in the next 5 years. A long term goal will then be something that will take much longer to achieve and can be broken down into shorter term goals in order to achieve.

Using the "dreamhouse" example the long term goal is the house and the short term goal would be the steps needed to be able to get the house like; a good job, good credit score, down payment, savings. The long term goal is met by meeting the short term goals and those short term goals can be broken down into smaller short term goals (i.e. saving $400 a month for 7 years, paying off 3 credit cards this year, or applying for 3 new positions each week.)

A lot of the time we just want the end result but don't know how to get it and so we give up when it seems too impossible. On the other hand, we have to know the end result in order to set the steps to reach it. By creating smaller goals, we gain control over the massive amount of work ahead of us, by giving is smaller and more achievable tasks. This way we don't engage is a ton of random tasks that lead nowhere.

You Can Do It!

A long term goal is not defined by a specific amount of time, but rather by how many smaller goals can fit inside of the given time frame. So you can have a long term goal of retiring early and a long term goal of passing your chemistry class.

A short term goal is the specific steps that you can take and track! Ever heard of a SMART Goal? A SMART Goal is a guide for setting appropriate goals by ensuring that you are choosing the right goals for you.

S. Specific M. Measurable A. Assignable R. Realistic T. Time based

This formula can be used on both short term and long term goals. Look at the "T" for time based, regardless of the time it will take, a time has to be set (or else how do you know you hit the goal?)

For really short term goals like daily to-do lists you can use Eisenhower's Urgent/Important Principle to help you with deciding what activities are most important and in what time frame they must be taken care of. This same principle can be used to help you achieve your long term goals once you've taken the time to figure out what the steps to get there are.

Setting goals requires thought and commitment but it shouldn't feel like the worst thing in the world. When we are looking at it from so far away that the goal seems impossible to hit, it's natural to want to give up and just not set the goal in the first place but breaking it down and seeing how much easier it is to hit the short term goals should make it a much more exciting process! It your dream, after all, that you are working toward and anything that isn't leading you to it should be thought over again. I believe you can do what you set your mind to, as long as you set your mind to it. Don't skip that step! :)

I hope that this post helps you understand the difference between short and long term goals and how you can choose between them to set the appropriate steps towards the future you want. If you liked this post please give it a like and share it with your friends ! Also, make sure to subscribe and download Grow Into The Best You, in it I go into more detail about how you can achieve your goals :)

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