Goals: The Long and the Short of It

Some people say that long-term goals are the kind you need to set if you really want to get anywhere. Other people say that long-term goals are too distant to get their arms around. Here’s another way to look at short- and long-term goals, and it’s backed up by research out of Stanford University as well as other leading edge studies.

The best kind of goals to have is a combination of short- and long-term. If you have only long-term goals, you may find it rough going. The realities of life are that most of us have many pressing goals in the present – things we must get done on a daily and weekly basis in order to avoid unpleasant consequences. These things often cause us to put off the long-term goals – and put them off, and put them off. Also, we may become demoralized because we don’t see ourselves accomplishing or achieving anything right now. It can seem very difficult to keep a long-term goal in focus, especially when it doesn’t seem like we are making much progress.

On the other hand, if you have only short-term goals, you may feel fragmented, or lacking in a sense of overall direction and purpose. Short-term goals become more of a “to do list” than the building blocks they can be. However, when you combine short-term and long-term, you have the best of both.

So by all means, set long-term goals. But set goals that you can accomplish in the near future, too. Your eventual goal may be to be financially independent. But what can you do today, this week, and this month to move you closer to that desired end-result? It may be having an extra $20, $50 or $100 to put into a savings account. Your long-term goal may be to graduate with honors, but this week your goal is to get an “A” on a math test.

You get the idea. Combine long- and short-term goals if you are really determined to make something happen. They work together to get you where you want to be.