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Short-Term vs Long-Term Goals: How to Set In 2024?

Updated on June 24, 2024By
short-term vs long-term goals

Goal-setting keeps us motivated and driven to achieve more—be it in our personal or professional lives. Whether you want to switch careers, learn a new language, or move to a new country, all goals can be categorized into short-term vs long-term goals.

According to Stacey Barr, a performance measure specialist, one way to achieve your goals better is to add sensory-specific language to it—or words that describe what you see, hear, touch, smell, or taste—instead of using intangible words like efficient, effective, capable, engaged, and more. 

Another way is to use goal-setting software like Nifty to productively tackle your short-term and long-term goals (more on that later). In this advanced guide, we’re covering everything you need to know about short-term and long-term goals. Let’s go!

What Are Short-Term Goals?

Short-term goals are the stepping stones to your bigger aspirations. In terms of the constitution, they can stand alone or be part of a larger plan. They generally have a timeframe of one year (not more). 

What Are Long-Term Goals?

Long-term goals are the blueprint of your future. You set an intent to achieve an outcome in your personal life or career. However, unlike short-term goals, which are typically accomplished within a year, long-term goals can be achieved within three to ten years or more.

Think of these goals as your guiding stars, providing direction and a sense of purpose. They’re more futuristic in scope and empower you to transition from a passive role to an active one where you proactively work toward your aspirations.

Short-term Goals or Long-term Goals, Nifty is the ideal choice. Know why!

Short-Term vs Long-Term Goals: An In-depth Comparison

Is there a difference between short-term vs long-term goals? Yes!

While both these kinds of goals help you to accomplish tasks, both differ from each other in numerous ways:

CriteriaShort-Term GoalsLong-Term Goals
1. Time takenTakes anywhere between a few days to, at most, a year to achieve, depending on your current situation and performance.

It is measured by days, weeks, months, or quarters
Takes at least 12 months or several years to achieve, depending on the goal type, strategic mission, and vision for your career and life in general
2. Number of goal-settingIt’s possible to set multiple short-term goals across categories due to the shorter duration of the goalsIt is recommended you stick to no more than three long-term goals; otherwise, you risk getting overwhelmed by the sheer complexity of the goal
3. Strategy-makingRequires less amount of planning and strategizing; you need to embrace the right strategy based on current performance instead of evaluating your future performance Requires more in-depth planning and strategizing to achieve; you may need to make smaller changes in your everyday life to achieve them.

Greater need to reflect on where you are now and how you intend to achieve your long-term goal in the future.

Motivates you to think about how your personal mission and values align with your long-term goals
4. Level of motivationEasier to stay motivated for short-term goals as you’ll be able to see the progress and ‘wins’ more quickly, boosting confidence in the processStaying motivated is more challenging as long-term goals are far off in the future
5. Chances of flexibilityAs goals need to be completed within a tighter deadline, flexibility to change the goals is lessIt’s possible to exercise greater flexibility with long-term goals because the deadlines are typically longer
6. Level of multi-taskingMulti-tasking and achieving multiple short-term goals simultaneously is possible as the goals comprise simpler and smaller tasks that are more manageableIt is possible to multi-task with long-term goals as well; for instance, if your goal is to get a promotion at work, you may need to work on several short-term goals together, such as:
– Attending accredited workshops
– Earning a certification
– Getting feedback from your manager
– Practicing skills with hands-on projects

3 Best Examples of Short-Term Goals

Short-term and long-term goals help you visualize your desires—whether for yourself, your teams, or your organization. 

The biggest advantage of using short-term goals is that they allow you to break down big aspirations into concrete, more achievable tasks. This allows you to channel your focus and redirect resources better toward achieving goals.

1. Improve your efficiency 

Short-term goal: Try a new time management method to increase productivity by 25% in the next three months.

For this short-term goal, you can break it into the following smaller tasks:

  • Identify tasks that are time-consuming and distracting in your daily routine.
  • Research a time management method that suits your work style—it could be the Pomodoro Technique or Eisenhower Matrix.
  • Use a task management tool like Nifty to create a prioritized task list.
  • Set aside specific blocks of time for focused work using time tracking software.

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2. Improve your fitness level

Short-term goal: Complete a 20-week strength training program to increase muscle mass and strength. 

Here’s a breakup of the smaller tasks for your short-term goal:

  • Schedule a consultation with a certified fitness trainer that specializes in strength training. Discuss your fitness goals, exercise experience, and health.
  • Get a personalized strength training program that is focused on squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. Commit to working out three to four times per week.
  • Gradually increase weights and intensity as the program progresses, ensuring proper form and technique.
  • Keep a detailed workout journal to track performance and take body measurements at regular intervals.
  • Use a fitness app to chart progress and keep yourself accountable.

3. Master a new recipe 

Short-term goal: Learn to make traditional Indian vegetable biryani from scratch and make a homemade biryani spice mix by the end of May.

For this short-term goal, you can break it down into smaller tasks such as:

  • Research traditional vegetable biryani recipes to understand the key ingredients and cooking techniques. 
  • See if you have all the ingredients at home, such as basmati rice, potatoes, carrots, peas, yogurt, and spices. If not, go to the shop and buy.

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3 Best Examples of Long-Term Goals

Moving on, let’s look at a few long-term goals in action:

1. Become a mentor

Long-term goal: Become a mentor to five junior professionals within the next five years. Develop a mentoring program with regular meetings, goal-setting sessions, and skill-building workshops to support mentees in their professional development.

Key action steps for this long-term goal would be:

  • Enroll in a robust certified mentor training program within the next 3 months.
  • Attend training sessions, workshops, and seminars. Participate actively in group discussions, case studies, and role-playing exercises.
  • Identify and connect with at least five potential mentees through networking events, industry conferences, and professional organizations within the next year.
  • Create a mentoring schedule and communication plan with each mentee to ensure regular contact and support. Include bi-weekly meetings and monthly progress reviews in said plan.
  •  Provide regular feedback and resources to help mentees achieve their career goals.

2. Start your own business

Long-term goal: Launch a successful online eCommerce business selling sustainable home goods and generate $500,000 in annual revenue within the next five years.

Key action steps for this long-term goal would be:

  • Conduct market research to identify what your customers want within the sustainable home goods space within the next three months.
  • Define the product line for characteristics such as design, features, and pricing.
  • Conduct a competitive analysis to understand your competitors’ strengths.
  • Calculate startup costs, revenue forecasts, and profit margins. Secure funding of $50,000 within the next nine months.
  • Launch a professional website to showcase your products within the next 12 months.
  • Implement a multi-channel marketing strategy to drive sales within the first year of business.
  • Investing in reliable software is essential for building a sustainable business in the long term. For instance, selecting the right web hosting service is crucial; a popular choice for e-commerce is Hostinger.

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3. Write a book

Long-term goal: Publish a bestselling self-help book on personal finance. The target is to sell 100,000 copies within the next three years.

Key action steps for this long-term goal would be:

  • Research personal finance topics that readers want to read about for a unique angle for the book.
  • Write a detailed outline and chapter summaries to organize your ideas.
  • Dedicate at least five hours of deep work each day to writing and set specific word count goals to complete the manuscript on schedule.
  • Hire a professional editor to review the manuscript. 
  • Develop a comprehensive marketing plan, which includes book signings, media interviews, and online promotions.
  • Collaborate with publishers to secure a killer book deal.
  • Evaluate various money tracker apps to pick the best one that works for you.

How to Manage Short vs long-term Goals?

Sure, you could use a pen and paper to write down your goals, but this process can become complex and time-consuming over time. 

Why not track your professional goals digitally with project management software like Nifty?

Here are two interesting features Nifty offers to help you advance in your career like a pro:

1. Nifty Goals Helps Categorize Your Goals Neatly and Add Specific Details Along the Way

Nifty Goals is a great feature to use if you know what’s important to you and how you want to proceed within your career:

You can add high-level tasks to your goal, as well as the target date, metrics, and progress status. So, whether you want to establish clear timelines and realistic OKRs or automate your progress-tracking process, Nifty delivers on all accounts.

When you click on each task, the corresponding window allows you to add more granular details such as assignees, dependencies, attachments, comments, etc.:

That’s not all. Here are a few of its super-handy features:

  • Goal-tracking: Track goals by tasks, entire task lists, or specific data such as custom tags, fields, and assignees.
  • Communication: Identify and address issues and foster team collaboration with all the information in one place.
  • Performance monitoring: Use custom tags to create goals (which automatically get updated) and measure a team or individual’s performance.
  • Greater organization: Leverage goal groups to create folders and organize goals around company, team, and personal objectives.
  • Access: Choose whether to make your goal public to your organization or share it with specific team members as needed.

When setting your goals, always ask the 3 “W” questions:

  • What do you wish to accomplish? (This will help you to understand whether your goal is practical or not)
  • Why do you want to achieve said goal? (This will help you to measure its importance and prioritize accordingly)
  • When do you want to achieve the goal? (This narrows the timeframe)

As long as your goals are realistic, you’ll be one step closer to achieving them. Plus, always maintain a positive attitude when working on your goals.

2. Milestones View Allows You to Automate Your Progress All the Way

The thing about creating short-term and long-term goals is the ability to tie them to a specific timeline. And Nifty literally showcases the timeline in an easy-to-understand Milestones View:

In essence, Milestones serves as your visual project guide.

It automates the milestone progress depending on how and when you complete your goals. You can also get a real-time overview of in-progress, completed, and overdue goals based on how well you are able to complete the tied tasks (if any).

Moreover, you can view the goals in three different views: timeline, Swimlane, and Master Overview. Each view allows you to pilot your objectives more efficiently by intersecting project milestones with tasks. You can also visualize milestones in a Gantt chart to align your personal or professional goals with time.

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Long story short, if you want to get a bird’s eye view of all your goals along with increased visibility into your deadlines and priorities, the Milestones View can help.

Using the feature, you can clearly understand when the goal should begin and end at one glance. So, use this feature to:

  • Schedule your goals and set reminders
  • Experiment with the time frame, moving the goals around using the drag-and-drop functionality
  • Visualize dependencies and ensure you hit all your goals without any roadblocks

5 Tips to Set Your Short-term vs Long-term Goals in 2024

1. Set your vision

Think – where do you see yourself in five years? This will give you a clear direction for your goals. Pick your brains on what you truly want to achieve and why.

2. Keep them measurable

Make sure your goals are measurable so you can track progress. So, instead of saying, “I want to move to a sustainable data center,” say, “I want to move to a sustainable data center in three months.” The more defined your goals, the easier it’ll be to measure them.

3. Break it down

Break your long-term goals into smaller, bite-sized chunks to make them less intimidating and easier to tackle. 

4. Be realistic 

Be honest with yourself about what you can achieve. Setting goals that are too ambitious can be frustrating and cause you to jump ship mid-way. So, make sure your goals are achievable with the resources, patience, and time you have.

5. Track your progress

Keep track of your progress to stay motivated and see how far you’ve come. Celebrate the smallest achievements to keep the momentum going!

Get the Most of Your Work with the Right Goal-Setting Tool

Setting short- or long-term goals is second nature to everyone. Whether you want to learn a new language, be more productive, read more books every year, or develop a robust professional network, people are always aspiring to be a better version of themselves.

Depending on how complex or simple your goal is, you need to spend enough time and effort planning and strategizing. To help you plan your path to success, invest in a tool like Nifty that ticks off wins from your to-do list without missing a beat. Sign up now!

FAQs about Short term goals vs Long term goals

What is the time difference between a short-term and long-term goal?

Short-term goals are achievable within a few months to a year at most. In contrast, long-term goals can span several years, typically three to ten years or more.

What are short and long-term career goals?

Short-term career goals are objectives you want to achieve within the next few months to a year, such as gaining a new skill.

Long-term career goals, on the other hand, are aspirations you strive to achieve over an extended period, like advancing to a leadership position. They span three years or more.

How can long-term and short-term goals work together?

Long-term and short-term goals work well together. You can break the long-term goals into smaller, manageable short-term goals.

In other words, short-term goals are more like milestones that help you achieve your long-term aspirations and help you stay focused and on track.

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