Short-term Goals

  • A short-term goal is something you want to achieve soon.

  • That could mean today, this week, or this year.

  • Short-term goals can be steps towards bigger, long-term goals.

  • Short-term goals can also stand alone.

Short term goal examples written on paper Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Long-term Goals

  • Long-term goals are things you want to accomplish at some point in the future.

  • Long-term goals typically take 12 months or more to achieve.

  • They are big goals that often need to be broken down into smaller steps to be reached.

  • Long-term goals require patience, perseverance, and consistent action.

Long-term goals visualized Photo by Matt Noble on Unsplash


Sofia just started her final year of high school. She has a lot of goals, which are listed below. Which of these would be a long-term goal of Sofia's?

Short-term and Long-term Goal Examples

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Short-term Goals

  • Enroll in a language class

  • Buy a guitar

  • Write my resume

  • Attend a concert

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Long-term Goals

  • Become fluent in another language

  • Graduate from college

  • Have deep & meaningful friendships

  • Start my own school


From the list above, which of the short-term goals listed is a step towards one of the long-term goals listed?

Short-Term vs Long-Term Goals: Similarities and Differences

While short-term and long-term goals may differ in time frame, they share some similarities and differences:


  • SMART Goals: Both short-term and long-term goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Setting SMART goals ensures clarity and increases the likelihood of success. For example, a short-term goal could be to run a 5K race within three months, while a long-term goal could be to complete a marathon within two years.

  • Sense of Direction: Both short-term and long-term goals provide guidance and purpose. Short-term goals offer daily, weekly, or monthly targets that contribute to the overall achievement of long-term goals. They serve as stepping stones along the path to success.

  • Interdependence: Short-term goals are often milestones or building blocks for long-term goals. Achieving short-term goals helps measure progress towards long-term goals and provides motivation to continue on the journey.


  • Time Frame: Short-term goals are achievable within a relatively short period, usually within a year or less. Long-term goals, on the other hand, require more time and planning, often extending over several years or even a lifetime.

  • Complexity: Long-term goals tend to be more complex and require greater commitment, effort, and resources. They often involve significant life changes, such as pursuing higher education, starting a family, or changing careers. Short-term goals, while important, are usually less complex and can be accomplished relatively quickly.

  • Flexibility: Short-term goals offer more flexibility, allowing for adjustments and adaptations as circumstances change. Long-term goals, however, require a more structured and adaptable approach to account for potential obstacles and shifting priorities over an extended period.

  • Number of Goals: Individuals typically have multiple short-term goals at any given time, as they focus on various aspects of their lives. In contrast, long-term goals are usually fewer in number, representing broader aspirations that encompass multiple short-term goals.

Setting and Keeping Your Short-term and Long-term Goals

To effectively set and achieve your goals, consider the following tips and strategies:

Work Backwards: Start by envisioning your long-term goal and then break it down into smaller, manageable steps. Determine what you need to accomplish in five years, one year, and six months to progress towards your long-term goal. Create a timeline that outlines the necessary actions and milestones.

Prioritize: Prioritizing your goals is essential since it's impossible to work on all of them simultaneously. Identify what is most important to you at the current moment and focus primarily on that goal. As you make progress and become comfortable with your efforts, you can add additional goals to your focus.

Regular Review: Periodically review your goals and assess your progress. Celebrate achievements and adjust your goals as needed. Life is dynamic, and circumstances may change, requiring you to adapt your goals accordingly.

Flexibility: Be flexible and open to change. Sometimes, unexpected opportunities or challenges arise that may alter your initial plans. Embrace these changes and adjust your goals accordingly. The ability to adapt and pivot is crucial for long-term success.

Balance Between Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

To find the balance between short-term and long-term goals, consider the following strategies:

Align with Long-Term Vision: Ensure that your short-term goals are aligned with your long-term vision. Each short-term goal should contribute to the overall achievement of your long-term goals. This alignment helps maintain focus and prevents short-term goals from derailing long-term aspirations.

Break Down Long-Term Goals: Divide your long-term goals into smaller, actionable short-term goals. This approach allows you to make progress incrementally while staying motivated. Celebrate each short-term milestone as a step towards your ultimate long-term goal.

Maintain Focus: While short-term goals provide immediate gratification, it's essential to stay committed to your long-term goals. Avoid getting caught up in short-term achievements at the expense of long-term progress. Balance short-term wins with a long-term perspective.

Reevaluate and Adjust: Regularly reassess your goals and adjust them as necessary. As circumstances change, your priorities and aspirations may evolve. Be open to adapting your goals to align with your current needs and aspirations.

Take Action

Now it's your turn!

List out 2-4 long-term goals that you have.

Remember, long-term goals are usually more than a year away from being achieved.

Now list out 2-4 short-term goals that you have.

Short-term goals are things you think you can accomplish anytime between now & one year from now.

Your short-term goals may very well be smaller steps towards your bigger, long-term goals.


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