What Are Short Term Goals and Why Do You Need to Have Them?

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You’ve got big ambitions to change your life. That’s admirable, especially if you have long term goals. But without short term goals, you’ll never get there.

Short term goals are the aspirations for what you want to achieve within the next day, week, month, or quarter. They are the building blocks for long term goals that let you create a plan to make your biggest dreams become reality.

Although they seem pretty straightforward, there’s more to understand about short term goals if you want to unlock the power they have to change your life. I’m going to get into that starting with some word math.

Word Math

Let’s dive right in with some definitions to get us started:

Short: lasting or taking a small amount of time.

Term: a boundary or limit, especially of time.

Goals: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.

To start with a word equation, we have:

Short Term Goals


A boundary or limit for the small amount of time it will take to accomplish the object of a person’s ambition or effort, aim, or desired result.

Now to simplify even further to get a deeper understanding, we get:

How long are, and what should you do with the small amounts of time you have to accomplish the big results or aims of your ambitions and efforts?

Or thinking of it another way, this is the step of taking a big thing, like long term goals, and breaking it down into smaller pieces that you can handle. 

As they say, if you want to eat an elephant, do it one bite at a time!

What Are Short Term Goals?

Short term goals are the small action steps and milestones you need to take to reach your bigger ambitions. They usually happen on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly timeline. A few examples of short term goals include:

  • Running a 5k
  • Losing one pound a week for 12 weeks
  • Applying for a new job this week to get hired this quarter
  • Making three sales calls a day to get a new client this month
  • Saving $100 a month to a travel fund

Here are a few checks to make sure your short term goals are actually short term:

  • It’s a daily or weekly action step with a specific result on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly timeline.
  • You can combine these and similar efforts over a year or more to help you reach a long-term goal.
  • They seem a little monotonous, but you know that if you stick with them, you’ll see significant changes in your life.

While that last one might tempt you not to set short term goals, it’s an essential factor to be aware of. The daily action steps you’ll take to reach your big ambitions aren’t going to be extravagant or easy. 

It’s the consistent, boring, everyday steps that lead to reaching great things. Olympic athletes, NBA champions, and anyone that achieves their biggest goals knows this little secret and works hard even when they don’t want to. 

By knowing about this before you begin, you’ll be ready for when it gets tough to continue. This increases your chances of advancing through the messy middle to complete your objectives!

Now that we know what short term goals are let’s get into how they’ll help you reach your dreams!

Short Term Goals Let You Break Down and Accomplish Your Long Term Goals

As I mentioned before, if you want to eat an elephant, take one bite at a time. The problem is, most of us only focus on the whole elephant. 

This means you often end up overwhelmed at just the thought of setting a big goal. You end up paralyzed by worrying about how much you have to accomplish. This makes it a huge struggle just to begin, let alone finish.

When you unleash the power of short term goals, on the other hand, you cut through all of these problems and set yourself up for success. 

This is how I’ve reached some of my biggest goals. When I wanted to run a marathon, for example, I had to break it down into manageable chunks. 

At first, I could only run two miles, but I committed to the short term goal of running three miles consistently. This concrete objective removed the anxiety I had when I was only looking at my bigger goal.

Not long afterward, I’d reached a point I could do three miles without any problems. Then I could set another goal to get to the next level. I continued this process all the way until I ran 26.2 miles.

Consider your big ambitions. How likely are you to accomplish them if you just keep focusing on how difficult they are? Breaking them into digestible chunks by setting short term goals will shatter the overwhelm and lead you to success.

Short Term Goals Help You Plan How You’ll Change Your Life

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

When you plan and prepare adequately, you smother the fear that keeps you from performing well. That’s because you’re ready for anything that might come your way, no matter how it threatens your progress.

Setting short term goals is a powerful form of preparation that will destroy the anxiety you have about trying to accomplish your most massive life goals. 

You’ve already seen this with how they annihilate the feeling of overwhelm you get when considering the mountains of your long term goals. 

But short term goals are also helpful because they give you concrete steps to getting where you want in life. If you only set long term goals without a short term plan, you’d never get there! 

When I was younger, I loved playing with Legos. Honestly, I still love playing with them, especially with my children. But I’m a lot better now at following the instructions than I was as a kid. 

I did look at them, but they weren’t very easy to interpret. The excitement at getting my first Lego set when I was around seven is still fresh in my mind. I even got up early in the morning on a Saturday to build it. But my joy quickly turned to frustration when I finished and it didn’t look right. 

I soon discovered it was because I didn’t understand the instructions and made a few mistakes in the beginning. 

Short term goals are like your instructions for building the life you want. If you miss a step or don’t make your action steps clear in the short term, you’ll end up with a mess in the long run.

But don’t worry if you’re already in a place you’re not happy about. Find some big aspirations to motivate you and start utilizing the power of short term goals to improve your situation today!


Short term goals may seem like a small component of life. But they are powerful and provide a plan, and the building blocks necessary to complete your biggest aspirations.

You’re far more likely to achieve your dreams when you break them down into manageable pieces by setting short term goals. To start finding your own, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are my biggest ambitions in life?
  • How far can I progress with those goals in the next year?
  • What needs to happen in each of the next four quarters for me to get there?
  • What action steps can I take daily and weekly to make those things happen? 

Those action steps and results each day, week, and quarter are your short term goals. Set them, and you’ll be well on your way to a happy, fulfilling life that you’re proud of!