When it comes to goal setting, have you ever thought about if the goals you set are short-term or the long-term? And how are they going to affect you and your life?
In my opinion, both the short-term and long-term goals are important, and we need to set our goals in both time frame in order to move forward and live a better and more fulfilling life.
Short-term goals are anything that you want to achieve within a year, while long-term goals are the things that you want to achieve after that.
Long-term goals can be anything ranging from a year to ten or even twenty years. They may be vague, but that is exactly what long-term goals are meant to be – to serve as a vision for your future.
On the other hand, the short-term goals can range from weeks and months. Usually, most people will set their short-term goals within months. For example, to lose 10 pounds within 3 months.
Both types of goals have their own functionality, benefits, and drawbacks. And in order to achieve the goals you truly desire, learning how they work can be a great help because once you understood their powers, you can leverage them and unleash the true power of goal setting.
Short-Term VS Long-Term Goals: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
1. Specificity VS Vagueness
One of the best advantages of setting short-term goals is that they are short, meaning to say that you will be able to see the results faster. It is more like a result-based goal than a future-based goal.
A short-term goal is powerful when you are extremely specific and you understand exactly what it is that you want. For instance, if you want to lose 10 pounds within 3 months, you know exactly what you need to do and how to do it.
You can hit the gym twice and jog three times a day, and watch your consumption of unhealthy food and control your diet. If you are able to follow your plan, then your chance of achieving your short-term goal will be high.
Short-term goals are usually straightforward and they are crystal clear. Plus, highly likely, you already know the how-to and have a rough idea of what to do to accomplish them.
On the other hand, long-term goals can be vague. This is because you have to imagine the things that you want years into the future. And this creates vagueness. Long-term goals can never be specific because anything can happen as the time progresses forward. You can never guarantee what your future can be like, right?
Although you can have a clear direction in life, when it comes to envisioning your life ten or twenty years down the road, it may still be a challenging task.
2. Results VS Motivation
Short-term goals are good in getting you the results you want because they are specific and can be achieved within months. They give you the results you want faster and you are able to act on them immediately.
Long-term goals are totally different. Long-term goals are not really about the result, they are more about your motivation.
For instance, when you think about driving the dream car, living in your dream house, and traveling overseas, you feel excited, and these are long-term goals.
Long-term goals are good motivators because they allow you to imagine the future life that you want. You can visualize and see yourself living your dream lifestyle and enjoying all the fun.
Short-term goals are completely opposite because short-term goals focus on getting the results. When you stand on the weighing machine and see yourself losing 0.5 or 1 pound, yes, you may feel great and satisfied, but the result is still far from reaching the final target that you want.
This makes short-term goals less impactful when it comes to motivation. Let me ask you, do you think that earning additional $1,000 (short-term) sounds more excited, or do you think earning $10 million (long-term), running your own business, be your own boss, and living your dream life sound more excited? You know the answer.
3. Viability VS Creativity
One of the major drawbacks for short-term goals is that they are specific and the time frame you have to achieve them are relatively short, they limit your creativity.
They are not giving you enough time and space to think outside the box and to do something different. This forces you to think about the current resources you have at hand rather than helping you come up with a long-term plan to achieve your ultimate goals.
Conversely, long-term goals encourage you to think outside the box and do something different. This is because long-term goals are usually way bigger and bolder; hence, they force you to think creatively and outside the box.
Let me give you a great example. Usually, for people who set a short-term goal, they may ask, “How can I make $100,000 this year?” However, if you focus on the long-term, you may ask, “How can I make $100 million in 10 years?”
Can you see the difference? Short-term goals limit your thinking to what lies in front of you. And they are usually less bold because there is only so much you can do within a year or even months.
Bill Gates has a great quote about goals, he says:
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
4. Effectiveness VS Purposeful
Having short-term goals can be very effective. This is because you already know what to do and you can go through each day without wasting much time figuring out what to do. Short-term goals make you more effective and they help you in getting things done.
This is because short-term goals are more task-specific. You can break down the entire goal into actionable tasks. For example, filing your tax return or hitting the gym.
On the other hand, long-term goals may not be as effective as the short-term ones, but long-term goals are purposeful. Meaning to say that they decide the direction you are heading in life.
It can be an extremely challenging task if you want to break down your long-term goal say your twenty-year vision into actionable pieces. However, you already have a long-term vision and have a rough idea of what you want in the future, long-term goals give you a glimpse of what you want on the long road.
How to Make the Best of Both Short and Long Term Goals
Now that you understand the differences, benefits, and drawbacks of short-term and long-term goals, what should you do?
Should you set the long-term goals only and ignore the other, or should you do otherwise?
Obviously, we need to have both long-term and short-term goals to help us in our journey to success.
We need long-term goals to set a clear direction where we are heading in life and we need short-term goals to focus on our day-to-day operation.
The problem is that most people have only the long-term goals. They dream about what they want, but they never bring those goals into a solid plan where they can execute in the short-term.
There are also people who never want to think far into the future because they have succumbed to life and believe that whatever they do, they are not destined for success. And hence, they only have short-term goals that make them productive but may not be traveling in the right direction.
Working hard on the wrong thing is one of the worst things that can happen to you.
This is why you need to have long-term goals to ensure that you are efficient in working at the right thing, and short-term goals to make sure that you are being effective in getting things done.