Setting a List of Short-term Goals

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Many people have heard of ten-year plans and five-year plans. These long-term goals are a powerful tool to motivate yourself and reach the level you want to. But, while you're planning your future, don't overlook the benefit of setting short-term goals along the way.

What Is a short-term goal?

A short-term goal is anything you plan to achieve in less than a year. Most short-term goals will be set three to six months in the future. Usually, a short-term goal will be somewhat easier to attain than the big, multi-year targets like, “I want to be Chief Sales Officer (CSO) within the next ten years.”

Short-term goals are more likely to be along the lines of, “I want to increase my commissions by 25 percent within the next six months.” These goals aren't as major as the long-term ones, but they are just as significant—and the fact that you can attain them in less than a year is motivating in itself. You can also use short-term goals to propel you along the path towards achieving long-term ones. In other words, you need both.

Benefits of Short-term Goals

When you choose a goal and set yourself a time limit, you increase your odds of achieving that goal—otherwise, you can get sidetracked. Just setting a specific target for yourself helps to motivate you to put in those extra cold calls during your break, to churn out thank-you notes for every prospect, and to perfect your presentation. And, each time your extra efforts move you along your timeline, you get another big morale boost.

A short-term goal might also be a stepping stone on the way to a larger goal. For example, if you want to become a CSO, some reasonable short-term goals might be finishing courses in sales management, applying for sales management positions, and finding a career mentor. If your big goal is to become a millionaire within ten years, your short-term stepping stone might be to shadow your sales team's best performer and apply her or his strategies to your sales. Of course, your short-term goals can also be something unrelated to a larger goal, like saving enough money to buy a new car within six months.

Compiling Your List

If you're not sure what goals you want to set, sit down and write out some of your ambitions. Be as honest as possible even if you think your dreams are frivolous. There's nothing wrong with a secret desire to tour Peru by jeep or own a fire-engine red Ferrari. Write down anything and everything you can think of, and then set that list aside. After a day or two, read over your list. See if there are any items that you'd like to add or remove from the list, and you'll have your final list.

Don't try to accomplish all of your goals at once because you'll be splitting your energy in too many directions to get anything done. Pick out two or three goals that are your highest priority and start with those. Write them down and put that priority list someplace where you'll see them frequently, like your bathroom mirror. Next, on another sheet of paper, write down the steps you'll take to reach those goals.

For a career-oriented goal, these might be something like, “Attend five networking events per month” or “Send out fifteen emails to new prospects every morning.” If you're aiming for a major purchase like that new car, figure out how much money you'll need to set aside each week and decide how you'll squeeze out those funds. For example, switching to a cheaper cable package for a few months. Just by writing these things down, you'll make it easier to stick to your plans. There's something about the written word that makes it more serious; more concrete.