Understanding the Distinction Between Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

BY Marbenz Antonio2 years ago22 MINS READ
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It's easy to become overwhelmed by your daily duties without thinking about what the future has in store for you, especially when considering financial goals or charting out your career path. Some people are working hard each day but have the impression that they are wandering through life. Learning how to develop reasonable and valuable goals for yourself is perhaps the best method to overcome feeling lost in the world. 

Goal setting is a necessary and effective means of taking charge of your life and steering yourself on the right path toward your desired outcome. You likely have a number of short and long-term goals throughout your life, whether you recognize them or not. They could be specified in a five-year timetable or noted particularly in your notebook. 

Without goals, you're depending on luck to lead you where you need to go. People that are already successful realize the importance of setting goals and dividing them into smaller targets that will allow them to keep focused and motivated. 

However, meeting your goals isn't always simple—according to studies, about 8% of people fulfill their New Year's Resolutions. Regardless of whether your ambitions are professional or personal, life will throw challenges in your path. 

Understanding How Do Short-Term Goals Differ From Long-Term Goals is essential, particularly when it relates to defining your own. Although each sort of objective serves a different purpose, they sometimes collaborate to produce long-term answers. In this post, we'll look at their differences as well as provide examples to help you structure your personal goals.

What is a short term goal?

Short-term goals are modest goals that can be accomplished now or a year from today. The main objective is to ensure that you get something done soon. These goals fill the gap between your current status and the following step toward reaching something more in a defined and quantifiable way.

Most of your short-term goals are contributing factors to a much longer-term goal. These smaller, more realistic objectives allow you to make steady progress toward the life-changing dreams you desire.

This might range from acquiring a new skill set to improving one's form in shooting a basketball. These types of objectives are excellent for keeping you focused. Due to their short timescales, you can cross items off the list fast.

This will offer you a sense of accomplishment, which will increase your self-assurance and assist you to proceed forward from one objective to the next.

Short-term goals often serve as checkpoints on your path to achieving your long-term goals. It can assist you in tracking achievement, allowing you to see how far you've gone and how long you still have to go to attain your long-term goals.

Why are Short-Term Goals Important?

  1. It helps to eliminate procrastination. Are you a procrastinator? Creating short-term goals and pairing them with dedication can help you. If your goals are short, clear, and defined, the work required to achieve them decreases significantly, reducing the temptation to procrastinate repeatedly.
  2. It keeps you focused. Reaching a long-term goal may appear unachievable at times. You could easily lose concentration while you strive to complete the task. There will be several distractions, and you will have to return to the correct path. But, when you have established your short-term goals which are quantifiable and practical, you will be more focused.
  3. It will show you a clear picture of whether it is working or not. Receiving feedback, whether good or negative, may simply serve as an encouragement to create short-term goals. Establishing short-term goals might help you coordinate your other duties so that you can focus on the larger picture. That way, you'll get immediate feedback in a short period of time to assist you to advance toward your goals.

Short-Term Goal Examples

Boosting your productivity

If you wish to thrive in your work, reach your professional goals, and complete tasks on time, you need to double your performance. When you are successful in increasing your productivity, you will be able to stay in front of your colleagues, you will be more engaged at work, and expand your professional skills.

Trying something new

Every day, learn something unique to test your inner strength. Develop new skills; become familiar with different phrases and words, and attempt to incorporate them into your everyday discourse. When you adopt this practice, you will train your brain to gain new knowledge fast and easily.

Getting rid of your bad habits

You must evaluate yourself and choose which habits you should abandon. Useless activities should be avoided if you intend to abandon certain typical poor habits linked with a massive waste of time. These hobbies differ depending on the individual, but some frequent examples include digital platforms, drinking, and any other activity.

Writing a journal

Writing is a therapeutic practice that might finally lead to the resolution of your troubles. It can help you formulate and organize those disorganized thoughts you're having into possibly fruitful ideas. It allows you to stay in the present moment by noting down your ideas as a type of meditation.

Creating a daily routine

A structured morning routine can assist you in being disciplined in how to connect your working time and the day forward. Beginning your day early, exercising in the morning, and eating a nutritious meal will help you develop your daily routine.

Benefits of Setting Short-Term Goals

Provides Immediate Direction

Short-term goals serve as immediate waypoints that guide you through daily or weekly tasks. They help you figure out what needs to be done right now.

Builds Momentum

Achieving short-term goals fuels your enthusiasm and self-confidence, giving you the momentum to continue pursuing your long-term objectives.

Facilitates Measurability

With short-term goals, you can quickly measure your progress, allowing you to adapt your strategies as needed.

Reduces Procrastination

Well-defined short-term goals offer a clear pathway, making it easier to take action and reduce procrastination.

Aids in Resource Allocation

Short-term goals help you identify what resources you need in the immediate future, thereby allowing for efficient resource allocation.

Encourages Accountability

By setting achievable and time-bound short-term goals, you hold yourself accountable for taking the actions that will lead you toward your longer-term ambitions.

Enhances Focus

Short-term goals keep you focused on immediate tasks, ensuring you don't get sidetracked by less important activities.

Strategies for Setting and Achieving Short-Term Goals

1. S.M.A.R.T Criteria

Ensure that your short-term goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. These parameters help in making your goals more structured and actionable.

2. Prioritize

Pick the most important goals that will have an immediate positive impact on your life or that serve as stepping stones for long-term goals.

3. Create a Timeline

Set clear deadlines for each short-term goal. A visual representation can be helpful, perhaps in the form of a Gantt chart or a simple calendar.

4. Break it Down

If the short-term goals are complex, break them into smaller tasks. This will make it easier to tackle them one by one.

5. Regular Monitoring

Set aside time to review your progress. Make adjustments as necessary but aim to stick to your original timelines as much as possible.

6. Celebrate Small Wins

Once you achieve a short-term goal, take time to celebrate. This keeps you motivated for achieving the next goal on your list.

7. Seek Feedback

Share your goals with someone you trust and ask them for regular feedback to keep you on track.

What is a long term goal?

Long-term goals are ones that you want to achieve in the far future. They will not be completed by today or the following month. Long-term goals are the big aspirations that offer you direction and meaning in life. 

Since these goals may take some years to complete, they must be adaptive. Life will almost certainly bring you challenges at some point down the road, so you'll need to adjust.

You may also decide to rethink your strategy or your aims entirely at some point. That is totally fine, It all comes down to doing what you must do to achieve a meaningful and purposeful life.

For example, suppose you want to brand yourself as a remote company. Where do you begin? How do you proceed from your status right now to where you want to be? In any goal, the solution is always the same: take one small step at a time. Your short-term objectives dictate how you begin to make your dreams a reality.

Why are Long-Term Goals Important?

  1. They Provide Direction and Purpose. Long-term goals act as a compass in the vast sea of life's opportunities and choices. They help you understand where you're headed and give a sense of purpose to your journey. If you're feeling adrift or aimless, establishing long-term objectives can anchor you and give your actions meaning.
  2. Promotion of Forward Thinking and Future Planning. Investing time in setting long-term goals forces you to think about the future and what you truly want from life. Whether it's career goals, financial goals, or personal aspirations, long-term goals encourage planning for the future, ensuring that you're not just reacting to life but actively shaping it.
  3. Motivation for Continued Growth and Learning. With a clear long-term goal in mind, there's always something to strive for which encourages constant self-improvement and learning. Whether you aim to master a new skill, climb the career ladder, or save for retirement, having that distant target motivates you to push through challenges and continue evolving.
  4. Improved Decision Making. When faced with difficult decisions, knowing your long-term objectives can guide your choices. If you're clear about where you want to be in the next 5, 10, or 20 years, you can evaluate options based on whether they help or hinder progress towards these objectives. This clarity can prevent detours and keep you on the right path.
  5. Boosted Resilience and Determination. Life is full of setbacks and challenges. Having long-term goals can give you the resilience to face these obstacles head-on. When things get tough, remembering the bigger picture and the rewards waiting at the end can help you muster the determination to continue.
  6. Enhanced Accountability. Long-term goals, especially when shared with others, create a sense of accountability. You're not just making a promise to yourself but declaring your intention to achieve something significant. This can create a commitment mechanism, pushing you to stay on track.
  7. Optimized Resource Allocation. Whether it's time, money, or energy, we all have limited resources. Knowing your long-term goals helps optimize the allocation of these resources. Instead of spreading yourself thin or wasting resources on unfruitful endeavors, you can channel them efficiently towards achieving your major objectives.

Long-term goal-setting strategies

Make your goal specific

Be as clear as possible while creating long-term goals for your work and your life. Think about what you desire in-depth and in very clear words. The benefit of having precise long-term goals is that you can assess them. You'll be able to determine how you will meet certain goals or if you'll need to make slight adjustments.

Break it into smaller goals

Once you've settled on your long-term objectives, you'll need to divide them into short-term objectives. The smaller the portions are, the quicker it is to complete.

Set goals rather than wishes

When setting a long-term goal it should be something that you're able to inspire yourself to achieve over time, rather than something that comes into your life by chance.

Write it down

A goal that isn't written down is merely a desire. We are prone to fantasizing and blind optimism. We must take tangible actions to achieve our objectives. Simply performing this step increases your chances of success significantly. And besides, it now acts as a reminder. A motivation to head out and achieve your goals.

Long-Term Goal Examples

Lose some weight

Numerous people have attempted diet plans in order to reduce weight rapidly. These diets frequently fail and many gain the weight back when they stop. If decreasing extra weight is one of your health goals, follow a healthy route to guarantee that the extra fat remains off permanently.

Purchasing your own home

Property ownership is a crucial indicator of one's financial success. It's also among the most financially sensible investments you can make.

Starting a business

Starting your own business great way to earn a living while pursuing your true passion. Being a company owner allows you to appreciate everything life has to give without worrying about having enough money to fulfill your necessities.

Learning a musical instrument

The skill of playing a musical instrument enhances brain function. It helps to improve long-term memory. Furthermore, playing music elevates your mood, making you feel happy. It also reduces stress and depression.

Earning your first million

An excellent long-term financial objective is to set a precise amount to attain in your wages or savings. This encourages you to use all of your resources to attain your goal.

Benefits of Setting Long-Term Goals

Offers a Sense of Purpose

Long-term goals give your life a sense of direction and purpose, providing a framework that shapes your short-term decisions.

Facilitates Strategic Planning

Long-term goals allow you to think strategically about your life's path, helping you align your actions with your overarching objectives.

Promotes Sustained Growth

Having long-term goals in place encourages continuous self-improvement and learning, as you're always aiming for something beyond your current state.

Enhances Decision Making

Knowing your long-term goals can make decision-making easier, as it offers a benchmark for evaluating opportunities and challenges that come your way.

Builds Resilience and Determination

Long-term goals enhance your ability to cope with setbacks and challenges, providing a bigger picture that keeps you motivated in difficult times.

Supports Resource Optimization

Knowing your long-term objectives helps you allocate resources like time, money, and energy more effectively, ensuring you're investing in activities that align with your goals.

Fosters Accountability

Sharing your long-term goals with others can create a stronger sense of commitment and accountability, as you're not just making promises to yourself but declaring your intentions to those around you.

Strategies for Setting and Achieving Long-Term Goals

1. Vision Board

Create a vision board or a detailed description of what achieving this long-term goal will look like. This serves as a daily reminder and source of inspiration.

2. Yearly Review

While short-term goals may require weekly or monthly check-ins, long-term goals might be reviewed less frequently. However, it is good to evaluate your long-term goals at least annually.

3. Flexible Planning

Long-term goals are often affected by life changes. Be prepared to adapt your plans without losing sight of your ultimate goal.

4. Resource Allocation

Ensure that you have the necessary resources—whether it's time, money, or support from others—to make your long-term goal a reality.

5. Milestones

Set significant milestones that serve as significant progress points towards your long-term goals. Achieving these can offer the motivation boost needed to continue.

6. Resilience and Adaptability

Be prepared for setbacks and have a contingency plan. Adaptability is crucial in achieving long-term goals.

7. Accountability

Share your long-term goals with someone who can hold you accountable. Regular check-ins with this person can keep you motivated and honest.

8. Skill Acquisition

Long-term goals often require new skills or knowledge. Plan for the necessary education or training and incorporate it into your timeline.

Difference Between Short and Long-Term Goals

Short-term goals and Long-term goals differ in the amount of time required you need to achieve each goal. While a short-term might be accomplished in a matter of days, a long-term can take years to fulfill. Let's look at How Do Short Term Goals Differ From Long Term Goals.


Long-term goals are essentially strategic, and as a result, they affect your life's path. They need extensive thinking and preparation in several aspects of your existence in order to be fulfilled. Your long-term achievement is a measure of how successfully you've been capable of living in accordance with your principles and adhering to your particular purpose.

On the other hand, short-term goals concentrate on what you are able to achieve right now. They are about dealing with the resources you have right now or in the foreseeable future.

When you achieve a long-term goal, you can simply look back and see the value of defining and evaluating your short-term goals in order to move forward.


Short-term goals are more strict. They arrive fast and have shorter deadlines, making them more challenging to adjust to afterward. Alternatively, when it comes to long-term ambitions, you occasionally need to take a beating. Your objectives may alter as your life situation changes.


Short-term goals are focused on certain aspects of your life. For example, fitness ambitions are focused on your physical well-being. However, the benefits of achieving a short-term goal spill over to other areas. Working out on a regular schedule can provide you with greater energy and concentration.

Long-term goals affect several aspects of your daily life at the same time. A professional shift, for example, might alter your complete life, affecting your job happiness, salary, work patterns, and perception of life fulfillment. The focus is on the big picture.


Many people struggle to keep motivated and concentrate on their long-term goals and accomplishing them feels so far away. On the other, working on your short-term goal might be easier to keep inspired since you can notice fast progress, which could help you remain motivated until the objective is finished.

This is why establishing short-term goals is really essential: it provides you with the sense of pleasure you need to continue pushing, so you don't think that you're not progressing or are lost on your trip.


Long-term goals, by definition, will take a longer time to fulfill than short-term ones. "Short" and "long" might be relative according to your purpose. a long-term goal may take a few months or multiple years to complete. But regardless of what your primary objective is, your short-term goals will consume a lesser amount of time than it's going to take to fulfill your long-term goal.


Your ability to accomplish short-term goals is significantly influenced by your current life. On the other hand, Long-term goals are dependent on your short-term actions. Each milestone, if well planned, will move you pretty close to your ultimate goal.

Tips for Effective Goal Setting

Goal setting is an invaluable skill, but it's only effective if done right. The path to achieving your goals can be fraught with challenges, and how you set them can often dictate your success or failure. Here are some tips to set yourself up for success in your short-term and long-term goal setting:


Remember to set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This gives you clear milestones and deadlines to strive towards, making the goal less abstract and more actionable.

2. Know Your Why

Understanding why you're setting a particular goal gives you the motivation to stick to it. Whether it's a personal or professional aspiration, knowing the purpose behind it can keep you focused when obstacles arise.

3. Visualize Success

Visualization is a powerful tool for achieving your goals. Imagine how achieving the goal will feel, look, and change your life. This can make it more tangible and motivate you to take action.

4. Prioritize Your Goals

Often, we have more than one goal, and they may compete for our time and attention. Prioritize them based on their importance and impact on your overall life plans. This can help in allocating resources and time more effectively.

5. Break it Down

A big goal can be overwhelming. Breaking it down into smaller, manageable tasks can make it easier to tackle. Each small win brings you a step closer to your larger objective.

6. Write it All Down

Documenting your goals, the steps to achieve them, and the timeline can be highly effective. Not only does this make your plans clear, but it also serves as a source of motivation and a point of reference for future review.

7. Share Your Goals

Don’t underestimate the power of accountability. Share your goals with someone you trust or even a larger community. When people know what you're working towards, you’re more likely to commit to achieving it.

8. Monitor and Adjust

Goals are not set in stone. Life happens, and it's important to adjust your plans as needed. Periodically review your goals and the progress you've made, and be prepared to make adjustments.

9. Celebrate Small Wins

It's important to celebrate the small victories along the way to your bigger goals. This can provide the necessary motivation and positive reinforcement to keep you going.

10. Learn From Failures

Setbacks are inevitable, but they're also great learning opportunities. Instead of dwelling on failures, analyze what went wrong, adjust your plans accordingly, and move on stronger than before.


Having both short-term and long-term goals can help you succeed in both your career and personal life. Your short-term goals assist you in managing your time by focusing on what you can achieve right now, and even though they appear minor, achieving them adds up to much larger successes.

Establishing your long-term goals to know your purpose and thereafter creating your short-term goals to offer you a path to realizing this purpose is a wonderful strategy to prioritize your goals. Focusing on achieving short-term goals and completing them on schedule can help you sustain the momentum needed to reach your long-term goals.

Edworking is an online collaboration software that can help your team reach your short-term or long-term goals. You have access to a project management tool as well as a collaboration tool; you may structure and manage projects as well as save, exchange, and download files. Within the app, you may chat or video conference with your colleagues without restriction. Try Edworking for FREE!


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

On Quizlet, a short-term goal typically refers to objectives that one intends to achieve within a short timeframe, such as within a year. These are smaller tasks or milestones that are steps towards bigger objectives. In contrast, long-term goals are ambitions that take longer to achieve, often spanning multiple years, and require sustained effort and planning.

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

A short-term plan is designed to address immediate needs and tasks that are to be completed within a relatively short timeframe, typically a year or less. It focuses on the present and the immediate future. On the other hand, a long-term plan looks further ahead, often spanning several years or decades, and outlines the steps or strategies needed to reach more distant objectives.

What is the difference between short-term goals, medium-term goals, and long-term goals?

Short-term goals are objectives you aim to achieve in the immediate future, typically within a year. Medium-term goals are those set for a more extended period, usually between one to five years. They bridge the gap between short-term actions and long-term aspirations. Long-term goals, on the other hand, are set for a period of several years or even decades, focusing on substantial achievements or life milestones.

How do long-term financial goals differ from short-term financial goals?

Long-term financial goals are objectives set for extended periods, usually more than five years. These might include saving for retirement, buying a house, or building an investment portfolio. Short-term financial goals, on the other hand, are targets set for a year or less, such as saving for a vacation, paying off a small debt, or building an emergency fund.

Why is it important to list and prioritize your short, mid, and long-term goals ahead of time?

Listing and prioritizing goals provides clarity and direction. It helps in identifying what's most important at different stages of life or career. By having a clear roadmap, one can allocate resources effectively, avoid getting sidetracked, and make more informed decisions, ensuring that immediate needs are met while also working towards bigger life objectives.

How can short-term goals best lead towards accomplishing long-term career goals?

Short-term goals act as stepping stones towards achieving long-term career aspirations. By breaking down a long-term ambition into smaller, manageable tasks or objectives, one can focus on immediate actions that build momentum and create a foundation. Each achieved short-term goal provides a sense of accomplishment, keeps motivation levels high, and paves the way for subsequent tasks, ultimately leading to the realization of long-term career goals.

What are the essential steps to effective goal setting?

Setting effective goals involves several steps, such as determining what you want to achieve, understanding the reasons behind that desire, breaking the goal into actionable steps, monitoring your progress regularly, staying committed and persistent, and adjusting strategies as needed based on feedback and experiences.

How often should I review my short-term and long-term goals?

It's recommended to review your short-term goals weekly or monthly to track progress and make necessary adjustments. For long-term goals, a quarterly or biannual review can be effective to ensure you remain aligned with your overarching objectives and reevaluate as life circumstances change.

Can long-term goals change over time?

Absolutely. As we evolve, grow, and face new experiences, our perspectives and priorities might shift. It's essential to allow flexibility in your long-term goals and be open to making alterations based on new insights, challenges, or opportunities that arise.

Is it essential to write down my goals?

Yes, writing down your goals solidifies your commitment, provides clarity, and serves as a tangible reminder of what you aim to achieve. Studies have shown that individuals who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them than those who merely keep them in mind.

What do I do if I feel overwhelmed by my goals?

If you feel overwhelmed, it may be helpful to reassess and break down your goals into smaller, more manageable tasks. Take one step at a time, and celebrate small wins along the way. Consider seeking support or mentorship from someone who has achieved similar goals, as they might offer valuable insights and encouragement.

How do I balance between personal and professional goals?

Balancing personal and professional goals requires self-awareness and prioritization. Set clear boundaries, allocate specific times for personal and professional activities, and regularly assess your workload and commitments. It's essential to ensure that one area of life doesn't overshadow the other, leading to burnout or neglect.

Can goal-setting tools or apps help improve the achievement rate?

Goal-setting tools or apps can provide structured frameworks, reminders, and tracking features to help individuals stay on course. They offer a visual representation of progress, accountability features, and can make the process more organized and efficient, increasing the likelihood of goal achievement.

What should I do if I fail to achieve a goal?

Failure is a natural part of the growth process. If you don't achieve a goal, take the time to reflect on the reasons, learn from the experience, adjust your strategies, and recommit. Every setback offers valuable lessons that can guide you to better approaches in the future.

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About the Author: Marbenz Antonio Marbenz Antonio is a skilled content writer for Edworking's blog, producing high-quality articles in English on a daily basis. With a background in education and a passion for writing, he brings a unique perspective to his work, offering valuable insights and practical advice for readers in the education industry. As a Content Writer from the Philippines, Marbenz brings diversity to the Edworking team, helping to establish the brand as a global resource for educators and education professionals. Marbenz excels in task management, ensuring that he consistently meets deadlines and produces content that aligns with Edworking's editorial calendar. He also has experience in project management, adeptly juggling multiple assignments and collaborating with other team members to deliver comprehensive, informative content that drives engagement and supports the brand's objectives.
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