It can be frustrating and even monotonous to go through life directionless and without defined goals. Setting long-term personal and career goals are important to give yourself a sense of purpose and something to which you can aspire.
However, not every goal needs to be so ambitious. Setting and achieving more attainable short-term goals can give you the confidence you need to attack long-term aspirations and improve your life measurably. Below are some of the benefits of setting short-term goals, as well as specific examples.
It can be easy to get sidetracked and lose focus when pursuing a long-term goal. The path isn’t always direct; rather, it may involve unexpected detours and might take much longer than anticipated. Setting a clearly defined short-term goal that can be completed within a reasonable time frame allows you to focus on measurable actions that can be taken to achieve that goal. This goal can even be a task or obstacle you need to overcome to ultimately achieve a greater objective.
You might have trouble getting motivated or knowing where to start if your goal is to lose 50 pounds. Chances are, you’ll have to exercise regularly and maintain improved eating habits over a sustained period of time. This could take years, and it will be difficult to see progress on a daily basis, which can be discouraging. You may even find it to be such a daunting task that you don’t know where to begin.
Setting smaller, more attainable goals that contribute to your ultimate goal will not only lessen the possibility of procrastination, but also increase your confidence going forward. For instance, you might instead aim to run three days per week on the treadmill and eat plant-based dinners twice a week. These are much more attainable than dropping a significant amount of weight, but they also contribute to that bigger goal.
Setting short-term goals aligned with larger aspirations can also give you insightful feedback in regard to your progress and the changes you need to make. Consider the example above. If you exercised more and ate healthier meals for a week and lost your target of two pounds, you’ll be inclined to continue on that path for another week to see the results. If the exercise and diet changes haven’t made a difference, that’s still useful information. It might indicate that you need to cut back on certain foods or increase the amount of time you exercise to achieve your target weight.
Similarly, you might find that running on the treadmill or working out at the gym isn’t for you. Riding a bike or hiking might be more enjoyable, which is perfectly fine considering spending time in nature is associated with various physical and mental health benefits.
Not all short-term goals have to be aligned with ambitious life-altering aspirations. The following are personal goals that can be implemented into a daily or monthly routine to enhance your productivity and establish good habits for long-term success.
Keeping a daily journal is a relatively easy goal to accomplish and one that can not only be cathartic, but help present solutions for particular problems. Aim to fill at least one page with your thoughts and feelings that day or write about ideas that might support your larger aspirations.
“When you give yourself frequent permission to explore the ‘adjacent possible’ with no restrictions on where it leads, you increase the likelihood of a creative breakthrough in all areas of your life and work,” notes author Todd Henry in his contribution to the book Manage Your Day-to-Day.
Goal: Learn Something New Every Day
Learning something new every day is a great way to inspire creativity and open yourself up to new possibilities. Trying to do so can also serve as a motivator to break from what might be an otherwise monotonous day-to-day routine. Moreover, it helps train your brain to be able to comprehend new information more quickly and helps stave off cognitive decline.
You don’t have to spend much time on this short-term goal, either. It can be as simple as reading a chapter in a history book, visiting a museum, attending an educational presentation, or just reading up on specific topics online.
Goal: Drop One Bad Habit Every Month
Bad habits are impediments to achieving your ultimate goal. While it isn’t realistic to drop all your bad habits simultaneously in pursuit of your dreams, it is possible to eliminate one or two a month with persistence and dedication. Write down all the things you do that you believe are time-consuming with little to no benefit, or those that don’t make you happy. Consider which habits you can drop to make yourself more productive and happier. Some might be harder to quit than others, but removing these barriers will give you more time to focus on the bigger picture. For example, if you feel like you spend too much time mindlessly scrolling on your phone, try to limit your screen time per day or consider setting it aside after a certain time of day.