Short Term vs. Long-Term Goals

When setting goals, you want to set both short-term and long-term goals. A short-term goal is a goal that is designed to be completed in a short period of time. Typically, short-term goals span a few days or a few weeks and never last longer than six months. Long-term goals span longer periods of time and can take six months or longer to complete.

Why is it important to have a mix of both short-term and long-term goals? As you set and reach short-term goals, you will be more motivated to reach your long-term goals. When you set long-term goals, you have something to motivate you and give you a sense of purpose.

Examples of Short-Term Goals

Some examples of short-term goals include:

  • Losing a few pounds
  • Saving a small amount of money
  • Getting a good grade on a test
  • Joining a school club or sports team
  • Picking up a new hobby
  • Making a new friend
  • Breaking a bad habit, such as biting your nails

What are some examples of short-term goals you have set before?

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If you have not set a short-term goal before, come up with a short-term goal you could start working towards today.

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Examples of Long-Term Goals

Examples of long-term goals include:

  • Losing 50 pounds
  • Saving up for a new bike or electronic device
  • Getting into a specific college
  • Getting perfect attendance for the year
  • Finding a job in a specific field
  • Raising a large amount of money
  • Running a 5K

What are some examples of long-term goals you have set before and/or are currently working towards?

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If you are not currently working towards any long-term goals, come up with one long-term goal you could start working towards.

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Enabling Goals

Sometimes you have to set short-term goals to help reaching your long-term goals more manageable. These are called enabling goals because they enable you to reach your long-term goal. For example, if your long-term goal is to get a new computer, some of your enabling goals may be:

  • Save $10 from every allowance
  • Get a job mowing lawns or babysitting
  • Research the best computers to buy

If your long-term goal is to get into an Ivy League school, your enabling goals may be:

  • Get a 3.5 GPA or above
  • Join at least two school clubs
  • Score at least a 30 on the ACT or a 700 or above on each section of the SAT

Think about a long-term goal of your own. Write at least three enabling goals to help you meet that goal:

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Once you have set your short-term and long-term goals, the next step is to start working toward meeting those goals.

Suggested Exercises
  1. What do you want to be when you grow up? Write out a plan to help you get there.
  2. Use the short-term and long-term goal-setting worksheet to come up with a mix of short-term and long-term goals for your life.

Discussion Questions
  1. How can breaking down a long-term goal into smaller enabling goals make it easier to reach that goal?
  2. What are some examples of short-term and long-term goals you have set?

Accompanying printable worksheet:

Short vs Long Term Goals - Worksheet