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Goal Getting

Short Term Goals And How to Make Them Your Secret Weapon (With 60 Holistic Examples)

Written by Leon Ho
Founder & CEO of Lifehack
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Setting clear goals is essential for achieving success in both personal and professional aspects of life. For anyone seeking fulfillment, goal-setting represents one of the most pivotal life skills.

But despite understanding its importance, most people fail at setting and achieving impactful goals. This typically stems from two shortcomings:

  • Vague Intentions: Not having clarity on what specific objectives they want to accomplish across different life domains like career, health, relationships. This lack of specificity makes it impossible to plot a course towards success.
  • Inability To Turn Into Action: Even when intentions are well-defined, being unable to break down big goals into executable steps hinders progress. Grand visions feel uninspiring without tangible milestones.

As Tony Robbins says,

People are not lazy. They simply have impotent goals—that is, goals that do not inspire them.

When objectives feel too imposing or abstract, inertia takes hold leading to inevitable failure.

The winning skill is therefore being able to codify clear intentions for your future self while turning them into achievable milestones and bite-sized tasks. This provides the structure for inspiration, accountability and consistent progress.

In this article, we will emphasize why short-term goals matter, how they ladder up to bigger life objectives, provide diverse examples and recommend strategies to craft and accomplish them effectively on a daily and weekly basis.

What Are Short-Term Goals?

Setting clear goals provides direction, motivation and a benchmark for success. But not all goals are created equal. Depending on timeframe, goals can be categorized into North Stars, Milestones and Short Term.

North Star Goals

These represent your major life missions – the grand audacious goals that drive your life forward. North Stars are anchored in your values and beliefs around career, relationships, fulfillment and legacy. They provide directionality for decisions big and small.

However, due to their scope, North Star Goals can take years or decades to achieve. They include visions like doing nonprofit work, writing a book, generating multi-million dollar businesses, maintaining a happy marriage or raising kids grounded in values.

Milestone Goals

To bridge the gap between today and those big visions, you need milestone goals. These are significant achievements that mark concrete progress on a yearly or quarterly basis related to your North Star.

For instance, to enable a North Star of nonprofit work, 2-year milestones could include volunteering consistently, fundraising for causes you care about and learning from social impact leaders. Each milestone gets you dramatically closer to your North Star.

Short Term Goals

This is where short term goals come in – as stepping stones to ensure you achieve each milestone, which collectively build towards your North Star. Short term goals have a timeframe of days, weeks or months.

  • Using the above example, monthly short term goals would involve steps like:
  • Volunteering 8 hours this month for a local shelter
  • Reading a book on effective altruism this month
  • Reaching out to 3 social entrepreneurs for informational interviews

This ties the goal spectrum together – short term goals achieving milestones that ultimately ladder up to your North Star ambitions. With this alignment, you build momentum each day while keeping your eyes on the horizon.

In fact, a study published in Frontiers in Psychology[1] found that when people focus on both superordinate (long-term) goal and subordinate (short-term)) goals, they are more likely to achieve their long-term success.

Why Are Short Term Goals Important?

While long-term goals provide the vision, short-term goals drive tangible progress. Here are the important things that short-term goals fill into the goal setting spectrum.

  • Practical Progress: Though you can see the summit, without taking practical steps daily, you won’t get there. Short-term goals manifest incremental progress.
  • Motivation and Momentum: Completing a daily task like practicing guitar for 30 minutes or sticking to a budget gives you a sense of accomplishment. String enough of these together through S.M.A.R.T short-term goal setting, and you build unstoppable momentum.
  • Maintaining Focus: They also maintain momentum and motivation through small wins. This laddering effect keeps you focused singularly on the next milestone or task. By having a clear target and timeline for specific actions this week and next month, you stay centered on what matters most right now.
  • Flexibility: Short-term goals are a lot more flexibile than milestone and north star goals. If your long-term vision needs to shift given new inputs, that may derail entirely new plans. But short-term goals can easily be changed to adapt to the situation without losing steam.
  • Daily Purpose: Most importantly, short-term goals give daily purpose instead of just going through the same repetitive patterns and motions. Whether career objectives, health targets or relationship habits, well-designed short-term goals make each day count towards something meaningful while you inch towards the bigger vision.

In summary, short-term goals provide the roadmap to make big dreams a reality through purposeful and pragmatic action each and every day. They inspire through progress.


How to Set And Reach Your Short-Term Goals

In essence, short-term goals serve as checkpoints that allow us to track our progress and fine-tune our strategy as needed. Here’s a step-by-step method to breaking down your long-term goal into short-term goals so you can achieve your objectives successfully:

1. Define Your Long-Term Goal

Prior to identifying short-term goals, it is important to have a clear long-term goal in mind. This will give you a direction to aim toward and will influence your short-term goal-setting approach.

I’ve written another article on this topic, check out How to Set Long Term Goals to Achieve Big Things.

2. Break Down the Goal

Once you’ve defined your long-term goal, divide it into smaller, more manageable short-term goals (milestones). Each short-term goal should represent a specific accomplishment that moves you closer to your long-term goal.

Make these short-term goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound): Ensure that each short-term goal is SMART, meaning it should be:

  • Specific: Clearly define what you want to achieve.
  • Measurable: Include a quantifiable outcome or metric to track your progress.
  • Attainable: Ensure the goal is achievable, within your current resources and constraints.
  • Realistic: Challenging but possible to achieve, considering your abilities and external factors.
  • Time-bound: Assign a deadline or time frame to complete the goal.

Consider further breaking these short-term goals down into actions or activities that you can carry out on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to make them more actionable.

3. Take Action and Keep Track of Your Progress

Once you’ve established your short-term goals, start to work toward them by completing the tasks or activities assigned to each milestone.

Track your progress on a regular basis to ensure you’re on the right path. To keep track of your progress, use a goal planner or one of these goal tracking apps.


4. Celebrate Small Wins

Acknowledging and celebrating your accomplishments is necessary for keeping motivation and momentum.

Take the time to acknowledge your hard work and success whenever you reach a milestone or complete a short-term goal. This could be as simple as rewarding yourself with a small treat or sharing your accomplishment with friends and family.

When you regularly celebrate your small victories, you’ll stay motivated and inspired to keep working toward your long-term goal.

5. Be Flexible Along the Way

When working toward a goal, it’s inevitable to run into roadblocks or challenges that impede your progress. In such cases, it’s critical to rethink your strategy and make the required changes to overcome these roadblocks and keep going forward.

For example, if your goal is to exercise for 30 minutes after work every day to improve your fitness, but you now have less time in the evenings to fit your exercise routine due to a change in your work schedule, you may need to adjust your approach by waking up earlier, breaking up your workout into smaller sessions throughout the day, or even exploring alternative exercise options such as opting for home-based exercises.

You will be better equipped to face problems and maintain momentum toward your goals if you are adaptable and flexible.

By following these steps, you can develop and achieve short-term goals that contribute significantly to your long-term goals, ultimately positioning yourself for success in both your personal and professional lives.


If you’re looking for some ideas, here are some short-term goal examples to get you started.

60 Examples of Impactful Short Term Goals

The best way to develop short term goals is to align them with your bigger objectives in key areas of life. Here are 60 examples categorized across the 6 major life missions:

Work & Career Goals

  1. Dedicate 1 hour each Friday this quarter to browse openings for roles you’re interested in to propel a career pivot.
  2. Email 3 professionals you admire every Monday for informational interviews to grow your network.
  3. Start a professional blog this month sharing industry insights to build personal brand awareness.
  4. Commit to arriving 15 minutes early to each meeting this month to enhance punctuality.
  5. Complete an Excel modeling class in the next 8 weeks to strengthen analytics skills.
  6. Volunteer for the planning taskforce of your company’s annual fundraiser this quarter to expand leadership experience.
  7. Shadow a product manager this month to gain insights useful for a future transition.
  8. Outline key talking points before performance reviews to better communicate accomplishments and growth areas.
  9. Read 5 industry publications weekly to stay abreast of emerging trends useful for innovation.
  10. Take 30 dedicated minutes every Tuesday to organize your calendar and prioritize key project work for better time management.

Money & Wealth Goals

  1. Save $100 each week over the next 3 months by meal prepping to build your emergency fund faster.
  2. Achieve 10% returns this quarter on stock investments by applying dollar cost averaging and portfolio diversification strategies.
  3. Cut non-essential subscription expenses by $50 a month by critically evaluating each one’s value-add.
  4. Have $200 extra in fun money savings each month this year by negotiating a lower internet and cell phone bill.
  5. Boost income potential by obtaining an in-demand professional certification within the next 9 weeks.
  6. Schedule 30 dedicated minutes every Sunday this month to review expenses and optimize your budget.
  7. Read two bestselling personal finance books this quarter to absorb money-maximizing frameworks.
  8. Automate putting 15% of all bonuses/tax refunds received into a growth investment account for added returns.
  9. Meet with a financial advisor within a month to objectively assess progress on retirement planning.
  10. Tour 5 affordable homes slightly below your price range over the next 6 weeks to make a well-informed decision for your family.

Family & Relationship Goals

  1. Schedule a weekly date night with your partner every Friday to prioritize couple bonding.
  2. Institute a social media-free family dinner 3 times this week to nourish engagement with loved ones.
  3. Plan a picnic at your parents’ favorite park this weekend to show appreciation for them.
  4. Explore 2 new family-friendly hiking trails this month for quality time together.
  5. Research & book a simple weekend getaway 6 weeks out to reconnect with your siblings.
  6. Set aside 30 minutes every Wednesday to call grandparents this quarter for richer intergenerational relationships.
  7. Host friends for a potluck dinner twice this month to strengthen ties.
  8. Take your kids to volunteer over the weekend at a soup kitchen to teach altruism through action.
  9. Write 3 handwritten notes this week to meaningful mentors/teachers expressing gratitude.
  10. Establish bi-weekly family game nights for the next 3 months prohibiting devices to bond and laugh more.

Mental Strength & Resilience Goals

  1. Start a daily gratitude journal this week to write 3 things you’re thankful for before bed for more grounded optimism.
  2. Join a local book club meeting bi-weekly to read purposeful stories that provide new perspectives.
  3. Develop mindfulness by taking 5 minutes before meetings over the next month for mindful breathing.
  4. Seek inspiration by researching a role model’s story this week & noting takeaways.
  5. Strengthen self-talk by writing 3 daily affirmations to read aloud while looking in the mirror.
  6. Practice 10 minutes of guided meditation before bed for reduced anxiety.
  7. Register for a local public speaking workshop this quarter to overcome limiting fears.
  8. Implement a “no complaints” policy this week focusing conversations on solutions vs problems.
  9. Explore your core values by journaling what really matters behind decisions big and small.
    Commit to morning walks 3 times this week without devices to boost creativity from uninterrupted thinking.
  10. Identify an unhealthy self-limiting belief this week, write it down, and start a journal listing evidence against it. Review the list daily to overcome the belief.

Physical Health & Vitality Goals

  1. Establish a bedtime routine this week winding down 30 minutes before bed by dimming lights/reading to improve sleep quality.
  2. Drink a full extra liter of water today & move towards 8 cups daily over next 2 months for improved circulation, immunity & energy levels.
  3. Incorporate eating 2-3 servings of vegetables today & expand diversity over next quarter through seasonal selections.
  4. Stretch after waking up for 5 minutes this week to boost flexibility helping avoid minor muscle strains.
  5. Schedule walks outdoors before/after virtual meetings today to sit less and keep moving for small cardio gains that enhance focus when refocusing.
  6. Either digitally or by writing it down, start logging meals consumed today to increase nutritional self-awareness & balance.
  7. Select one unhealthy snack relied on too often today like chips to swap with nuts/fruits over next month to nurture body with food that nourishes.
  8. Establish consistent wakeup time this week synchronized with body’s natural REM cycles to leverage beneficial impacts of routine.
  9. Gradually incorporate core and low impact bodyweight training 2 times over next week building foundational functional strength with squats, lunges and planks.
  10. Assess ergonomics and posture today taking microbreaks when strain sets in and bring enhancements for pain prevention.

Spiritual Wellness Goals

  1. Start each morning this week by writing down 3 things you feel grateful for to cultivate appreciation and positivity.
  2. Identify a personal hero and read their memoir this month to find motivation and meaning.
  3. Visit a serene nature retreat area this weekend for rejuvenation through quiet contemplation while hiking or sitting by a lake.
  4. Have dinner this week with a wise relative or elder asking for their guidance on life’s purpose and fulfillment.
  5. Volunteer once this month with a charity you feel passionately about to boost empathy and self-worth through service.
  6. Attend a local cultural festival showcasing global traditions to expand perspective and connectedness.
  7. Establish a nightly practice this week of writing in a reflection journal to strengthen self-awareness and growth.
  8. Seek out inspiring art/music this weekend that sparks joy and admiration for the beauty of human expression.
  9. Have an open-minded conversation this month with someone of differing ideology to practice empathy and understanding.
  10. Spend 30 minutes walking outdoors this week without devices to boost creativity from uninterrupted thinking time.

Final Thoughts

Setting both short-term and long-term goals is essential for achieving success in many areas of life. You can develop a roadmap that keeps you focused, motivated, and on track to attaining your aspirations by creating specific objectives and breaking them down into manageable steps.

Remember to make your short-term goals SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) to ensure their efficacy in contributing to your long-term goals. You can stay motivated and keep up the momentum by constantly tracking your progress and acknowledging your victories along the road.

Combining short-term and long-term goals enables you to approach difficult objectives with an organized strategy, ultimately positioning you for success, whether it’s something you want to achieve at work or in life.


Don't have time for the full article? Read this.

Short Term Goals And How to Make Them Your Secret Weapon (With 60 Holistic Examples)

Short-term goals are targets that you set for yourself to achieve in a relatively short period of time, often ranging from a few days to a few months. These goals are intended to help you focus on the present while also giving you a clear roadmap to reaching your long-term goals.

Short-term goals help you to monitor your progress, stay motivated, and alter your strategy as needed to guarantee you stay on track towards your ultimate goal by breaking down complex, long-term objectives into smaller, more achievable steps.

While a single short-term goal may not allow you to accomplish something monumental, a series of well-structured short-term goals can significantly contribute to the achievement of a long-term goal.

Long-term goals serve as your north star, directing your overall direction and desire, whilst short-term goals divide the job down into doable chunks, making it feel less challenging.

We are more likely to stay committed and engaged in the pursuit of our long-term goals if we maintain motivation through regular achievement of our short-term goals.

Setting short-term goals creates a structure that allows us to prioritize our time and energy. This allows us to more efficiently manage our resources, ensuring that we devote our efforts to activities that are consistent with our long-term goals and will get us closer to accomplishing them.

Having a clear focus through short-term goals helps us avoid distractions that can divert our attention away from our main objectives. When we know exactly what we need to do, we can more readily disregard irrelevant tasks or activities that do not add to our goals.

Prior to identifying short-term goals, you need to first define a long-term goal. Read How to Set Long Term Goals to Achieve Big Things.– Then, break down the long-term goal into manageable short-term goals (milestones) and actionable tasks.

Next, start working on these goals and track your progress. You can track your progress with a goal planner or a goal tracking app.

Celebrate small wins as you achieve a short-term goal or milestone. This can help you stay motivated.

Lastly, try to be flexible along the way and adjust your approach when circumstances change.

Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com


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