How to Set Short-Term Goals

by | Jan 2, 2023 | Self-Improvement

A lot of people are great at setting long-term goals. “In 20 years, I want to be this,” or “in 10 years, I see myself doing that.” For the most part, this is a good thing. Setting goals for the future is a healthy way to keep yourself motivated.  

But what about short-term goals? What about the things you want to accomplish by the end of the week, or even just the end of the day? What you do in the near future sets the stage for what you’ll be doing 20 years from now, so treat your short-term goals as if they’re just as important as your long-term ones. 

Here are a few easy ways to set realistic short-term goals that could end up changing your life. 

Be specific.  

A target stands facing to the left with three arrows in the bullseye.

When it comes to short-term goal setting, the first step is to be as specific as possible. Rather than just making a goal with your spouse to schedule a date night this week, break it down into actionable steps. For example, in this scenario your steps would be something like, “Call this restaurant and make a reservation for 7:30 p.m. on Friday night.” If you have a goal of finishing a project with a coworker, your steps would be to send them a calendar invite to make sure they’ve blocked out time in their schedule to focus on this with you. By turning your goals into steps, you’ll have an actionable plan for how you’re going to achieve your goal, making it more likely to happen. 

Write it down.  

A blank notebook and a silver pen sit on a white-washed wooden table. At the top of the image, almost outside the frame, are a purple vase and lavender flowers.

Award-winning author Greg Reid once said, “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.” 

The lesson here? Write down your goals … and not just the ones you want to accomplish over the course of your entire life. Write down the things you want to get done at work today, the workouts you want to do this week, and so on. Getting your goals down on paper in the form of a to-do list is an important step toward making them a reality. 

Getting a planner is a convenient way to organize the things you want to get done sooner rather than later. Read this article for some great ideas on types of planners that might work best for your lifestyle. 

Decide what’s important.  

Five cards sit atop a gold background. The five cards read, “Family” “Honesty/Integrity” “Simplicity” “Humor” and “Prosperity/Wealth.”

Trying to accomplish everything all at once can be overwhelming, especially if you’re staring at a to-do list that’s five pages long. That’s why prioritizing things by importance is key to your short-term goals. What needs to be done right now? Is there anything you hope to finish by the end of the week that doesn’t necessarily need to be taken care of right this instant? 

Use this system to get your priorities in order

  • Do: Complete the task now (this should be anything that will take you less than two minutes to finish). 
  • Defer: Complete it later. 
  • Delegate: Assign it to someone else. 
  • Delete: Remove it from your list. 

The goal of this method is to figure out the things that should be done, delegated, or deleted so that you’re only left with your “Defer” section. This is your true to-do list … and it should look a whole lot more manageable.  

Short-Term Goals = Long-term Success!

Having short-term goals is the best way to break down your long-term goals. They keep the things you can do in this moment at the forefront to get you closer to where you want to be in 10, 20, or 30 years. Follow these simple tips and you’ll be on your way to achieving your short-term goals in no time.  

For more tips from the Herschelmans, read our blog post on “Building a Stronger Mindset and Mentality.”