Short-Term, Long-Term and Realistic Goals


“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the star.” – Les Brown.

I can still remember when I first discovered this quote. It was a gloomy, overcast morning. I was sat at school, in the library, staring at the blank computer screen, wondering what the hell I was to do with my miserable life. What could I do that would be significant enough to make a difference? To not just be another nobody, to become rather, the exact opposite: a somebody. Oh yes, it was one of those days. I didn’t know in which direction I wanted my life to steer towards, I just knew that it wasn’t the direction in which it was currently heading. I was in many ways, lost. I needed to find something which I had a passion for, something which I had a burning desire to do each and every day. I needed to set goals.

And I first did so on the very same day that I first discovered this thought-evoking, beautiful quote.

When first setting short-term goals one should steer more towards simplicity rather than perfection. These first few short-term goals are the predecessors of your future short-term goals and over-complicating them can lead to disappointment- this is where part of the ‘realistic goals’ bit comes in.  For example, my short term goals started out as: train hard and eat right. And then, as my experience in my long-term goal- which was to be a competitive bodybuilder- increased, my short-term goals looked more like this: increase my bench press by x amount of lbs, increase my daily carbohydrate intake by x grams or to bring up a certain lagging body-part.

Notice the pattern? All of my short-term goals lead to my ultimate goal (my long-term goal) which was to be a competitive bodybuilder. So that is one thing which I would heavily recommend: when setting your short term-goals, take your long-term goal into consideration and ask yourself “Will this bring me closer to achieving my ultimate goal?” If the answer to that question is no, then it’s probably not worth setting that particular short-term goal in the first place. Your short-term goals should always work towards bringing you closer to your long-term goals.

I like to sort my goals into segments. What this means is that if you have more than one long-term goal- for example, mine are: self-betterment in competitive bodybuilding and to be a published novelist- the best thing to do is to split your short-term goals up into segments. Some which work towards one long-term goal and some to work towards the other. Now we’re being specific. My short-term goals are split into bodybuilding related and writing related goals both of which are geared towards achieving my ultimate aspirations. With techniques like these, it is easy to maintain a high level of organisation when carrying out your daily activities. And it also makes it easy to stay on track, making sure that you are doing something each and every day which brings you closer to your dreams.

How short is short-term?

As short as you want it to be. I have some goals which I set out to achieve by the end of that same day. I keep track of these with a journal app on my phone. At the start of the day I set the goals and tick them off as I go. These are my daily goals.

Some short-term goals can take longer to achieve. As I’m sure that you’re already aware of the fact that I couldn’t bring up a lagging body-part within a 24 hour period. But what I could do is set a daily goal to train that body-part on that particular day.

The same goes with my writing. I’m not going to be able to improve my writing drastically within 24 hours but what I could do- and what I make sure to do- is set myself daily goals of reading and writing. Whether it be working on my novel, an article or reading the book which I am currently reading. These are the things which I can do on a daily basis, which will lead me to achieving my short-term goal of bettering my writing, both in fluency and articulateness. This short-term goal then brings me closer to my long-term goal: becoming a published novelist. This may sound confusing, but take your time and read it thoroughly, it will all add up once you do so.

Short-term goals can be reached in a day, a week, a month and even a year. It all depends on what your long-term goal is. If yours are similar to mine, then it is easily possible to have a short-term goal which may take you a year to reach. This is because my long-term goals are things which could take a lifetime. So in comparison, a year is quite a short period of time when it could take anywhere from 5 years to forever, to achieve said long-term goal.

To summarise, daily goals are a type of short-term goal. They lead to your longer short-term goals, the ones that may take longer than a day to achieve. And then, these short term goals lead to your long term goals, or your ultimate goals.

Realistic goals:

Don’t let this part fool you. This isn’t the time where I’m going to tell you to “be realistic” or to “get out of your farcical dreamland”- no, I’m not your mother. To me realistic goals are your dreams. They are the very dreams which some might tell you are hopeless. The ones that, when you tell someone of their details, cause them to shake their heads and laugh, as if it’s some sort of joke.

Well let me tell you something, those same people who make a mockery of you, the ones who satirise your character, the ones who belittle your dreams and are jealous of your passion, will be the same people who you are going to prove wrong. They will be the people who- when you conquer your dreams and fulfil your deepest, burning desires- you must thank. Because without their laughter, you wouldn’t be able to find your smile. Never allow the true notion of happiness to become corrupted by the pessimistic values of today’s society.

The key to setting a realistic goal/dream, is having the ability to truly believe that you can achieve it. With that ability, you’re halfway there.

So set goals and achieve them, with a smile on your face – your lifetime of success awaits you. But you must first climb the colossal, perilous mountains of hard work and dedication, in order to reach it.

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