Effective goal setting can be a powerful way to motivate yourself and to get you where you want to be in life.

We all set goals – whether it be a personal goal such as running a marathon or learning a new skill or a professional goal such as getting promoted or making professional connections, you’re sure to benefit if you set the goal correctly.

However, it can be difficult to set goals. Many people make the mistake of using the same goal-setting methods for short, medium, and long term goals.

Keep reading to learn more about goals, including how to set short, medium, and long term goals effectively.


What Are Goals?

A goal is essentially a desire or outcome that you plan on achieving. The difference between a goal and a wish is that you should have a plan of action to achieve a goal.

Unless you have a plan, then your goals are just ideas. If you want the best chance of reaching your goal, then you should write down your objectives and give yourself a timeframe, as well as a clear plan of action.

If you write your goal down, you’re far more likely to reach the goal. By placing your written goals in an accessible place, you’re constantly reminding and motivating yourself.

However, you’ll also need plenty of ambition and willpower to ensure that you stand a chance of achieving your goal.

All goals should be SMART goals – the letters stand for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant/ Realistic
  • Time-bound


How Do I Set Goals?

Everybody is different and has different ambitions and goals unique to their own personality – and even if you have the same goal as others, your approach will likely be different.

When it comes to goals, you should consider how they are going to set and reach their goal – and the method in which you set a goal will vary depending on your vision, your lifestyle, and your personality.

After all, a goal is a vision that you plan on making a reality – so you should commit yourself to reaching the goal.

However, the way you set goals may differ depending on whether it’s a short term goal, a medium-term goal, or a long term goal.

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Short-Term Goals

Short term goals are typically classed as goals that you plan on achieving within a few months – however, this depends entirely on the goal itself.

A short term goal may be a milestone of a longer-term goal or be its own goal. For example, a short term goal as a milestone could be running 5k in a week, whereas the long term goal would be running a marathon.

A short term goal as a sole goal could be to finish a painting or a novel or to make 10 new professional connections.

You should always apply the SMART framework to short term goals – so first things first, ensure the goal is specific.

Generic goals can be difficult to reach so you should narrow down exactly what you want to achieve.

You should be able to measure a goal – so your specific goal should have some figures in it if relevant- For example, if you plan on taking up running, how far do you want to run, and what time do you want to reach?

Your short-term goal should also be achievable – although it can be motivating to set an unrealistic goal, it can also be discouraging if you struggle to reach the goal.

Set a goal that you think you can achieve if you work hard enough. For example, making £100,000 in a month may not be achievable, whereas £100,000 may be more realistic.

Relevance is also important when it comes to setting short term goals – or any goal for that matter. If you’re happy with your career path, would you set a goal of getting a new job in a new industry?

Be sure that the goal you are setting is relevant to your ambitions, and that you will benefit from it.

Setting a deadline can motivate you to reach your goals – if you don’t have a time limit, then you may not ever get around to achieving your goal.


Medium-Term Goals

A short term goal is generally a goal that you can aim to reach in a few months, whereas a medium-term goal is a goal that can take from a few months up to a few years to reach.

You may set a medium-term goal once you’ve reached a short term goal.

For example, if your short term goal was to learn how to cook five dishes, then you may want to set a goal that would further your skill, such as create a cookbook or be able to cook a whole menu, or even becoming a chef.

When you set a medium-term goal, you may also set small-term goals or milestones for you to reach in order to stay on track and remain motivated.

It’s also important to stick to the SMART framework with medium-term goals – otherwise, you may lose structure and struggle to reach success.


Long-Term Goals

You may be able to reach short term and medium-term goals in a few years, but you should typically aim to reach long-term goals within around 5 to 10 years.

It can be difficult to plan anything ten years in advance – as you can change, your ideals may change, and your situation, in general, may change. If you set a goal to earn a million pounds in 15 years, you most likely won’t reach it as there are some things you can’t control.

You may lose your job, you may change your priorities, you may start a family, you may get sick – pretty much anything can happen that can change the path of your goal.

Although you can always adjust the goal and your plan of action if and when you reach obstacles, it’s still not recommended to set goals too far into the future.

When it comes to long term goals, you should aim to achieve them within a decade – and they should have milestones in between (e.g every year or every 6 months) to keep you on track to reaching your goal.

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