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Are short-term goals really necessary?
If goals are our vision of an ideal future, shouldn’t we just focus our attention on achieving our long-term goals?
However, short-term goals are just as important as long-term ones. In fact, without the former, there is a higher chance of failure to achieve our long-term goals.
In this article, we will give 57 short-term goals examples to inspire you to reach the success you envision for your own life.
What Are Short-Term Goals?
A short-term goal is an outcome you want to achieve in 12 months or less. A short-term goal is easier to accomplish than a long-term goal because it focuses on the immediate future. A short-term goal can be accomplished with simple milestones, broken down into daily goals and weekly goals.
For example, a great short-term goal would look like: “I will increase my salary by 10% in the next six months.”
Short-term goals allow you:
Let’s use the analogy of driving at night to an unfamiliar destination. The map to the place is the long-term goal. The car’s headlamps that allow us to see through the dark and to drive safely are the short-term goals.
RELATED: 21 Examples of SMART Goals
Want to set goals you can actually achieve? Then watch this video that provides a quick overview of SMART goals with 21 examples.
Short-Term Financial Goals
1. Set up a savings account this month
A savings account is a one of the more secure ways to keep your money safe. Moreover, the capital earns interest over time, especially if you open a high-interest account.
The money you have in the bank can be used for future projects, unforeseen expenses, or for funding your retirement cruise.
2. Reduce or eliminate your credit card debt this year
Paying off credit card debts can eat up a large chunk of your monthly income. Also, outstanding debts can negatively impact your credit score. More importantly, credit card debt has been linked to some health disorders.
By reducing or fully paying your debt, you’ll be less stressed, you will be able to spend your money on things you really enjoy, and you can improve your credit score. Eliminating your credit card debt this year can be your ticket to long-term financial security.
3. Start tracking your budget
We’re still talking about financial security in the near future. When you track how you spend your money, you become aware of your spending habits and stop spending unnecessarily.
One way to track your budget is to write down your daily expenditures (down to the last penny) in a small notebook. Another way is to use a money-saving app designed for this purpose. Head over to this post to check out our review of the best money-saving apps this year.
4. Set aside some money for a “rainy-day fund”
Apart from the savings account you’ve opened recently, setting up a rainy-day fund is also a practical short-term goal. This money, whether stored in your house inside a jar or deposited in the bank in another account, is what you’ll dip into when you need to pay for some minor emergency expenses.
The rainy-day fund had been used by others for home repairs, tire replacements, and buying the groceries in the event of a job loss.
5. Learn about stocks and investments
Even if you don’t invest in stocks this year, learning all you can about it can help you make sounder financial decisions in the future. Learning about it now gives you the knowledge about the stock market and how to maximize your investments.
Investing in stocks is considered one of the long-term ways to achieve financial security.
6. Save $1000
When it comes to savings, experts say people should have at least $1,000 in an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses. If you don’t have $1,000 saved, start by saving $50 from each paycheck until you reach your goal.
You can always get a fireproof safe to store any emergency cash you have in your home.
7. Invest in precious metal
Precious metals, such as gold and silver, are a great way to diversify your investment portfolio. Gold is a good hedge against inflation, and silver can be a good investment in industrial growth.
If you don’t have a lot of money to invest, you can start with just a few ounces of silver or gold. You can also invest in precious metal mutual funds or ETFs.
8. Pay down student loans
If you have student loans, it’s important to start paying them down as soon as possible. The sooner you pay off your loans, the less interest you will have to pay. You can make extra payments on your loans, or you can refinance your loans to get a lower interest rate.
If you have private loans, you may be able to get a lower interest rate by refinancing. You can also consolidate your loans to get a lower monthly payment.
Certain professions qualify for loan forgiveness. If you are a veteran, teacher, nurse, etc., you may be eligible for loan forgiveness.
9. Open a checking account at a separate bank
The bank crash that happened a decade ago is a good reminder of why you shouldn’t keep all your eggs in one basket. If you have all your money in one bank and that bank goes under, you could lose everything.
To protect yourself, it’s a good idea to open a checking account at a different bank. That way, if one bank fails, you will still have access to your money.
10. Sell old items
You can increase your access to cash by selling old items you no longer need or want. Look around your house for things you can sell, such as clothes, furniture, electronics, etc. You can sell these items online or at a garage sale.
If you have a lot of old clothes, you can also take them to a consignment shop. Consignment shops will sell your clothes for you and give you a percentage of the sales.
Short-Term Goals for Your Career
11. Be early by 15 minutes for work or for an event
Getting to work earlier than most people gives you a certain edge when it comes to performance and productivity. The quieter work environment allows you to relax before the start of the daily grind. You are more receptive to ideas and are able to focus better.
Being early for work-related events also gives you the chance to spend extra time with the presenter or trainer. You might gain some insight that won’t be discussed during the event.
People appreciate it if you arrive early. It means you care enough to hear what’s going to be said. And leaders usually notice the early birds. Being early can positively impact your career.
12. Keep your workstation organized and free from clutter
When your workstation is organized, you’ll increase your productivity. Furthermore, having an organized area for working boosts your morale. You will be more inspired to work.
The tidy office also denotes professionalism. It shows your boss, clients, and colleagues that you are dedicated to your job and capable of taking care of details.
13. Earn a professional certificate
Employers usually hire or promote individuals working for them based on their skills and knowledge. Furthermore, they like to see employees who continue to improve their competence.
It shows that one has ambition and is willing to work harder than most to achieve results. Even if you were motivated for purely personal reasons to obtain a professional certificate, eventually your efforts will be noticed. Many employers use professional development, especially if self-motivated, as the basis for promotions and pay raise.
14. Strengthen your communication skills
Having good communication skills in the workplace is advantageous in many ways. Foremost, it helps to resolve conflicts whenever they arise.
In addition, being a good communicator is a big plus when it comes to establishing client relationships, engaging in customer service, ensuring the unity of a team, and provides a room for others to express themselves and share their ideas for the good of the company or the work you do.
Feeling shy to reach out to others? Here are some suggestions on how to overcome shyness.
Have trouble communicating your strengths to potential clients? Read our tips and examples on professional goal statements.
15. Improve your networking opportunities
Many career experts say that networking leads to success. It contributes a large part to the development of your career. When you meet with people within your company, in the industry where you work, or even in areas outside of your usual interest and expertise, you give yourself the opportunity to improve professionally.
Through networking, you can meet new advisors and mentors. Supervisors will take notice of you. It also gives you the chance to work on your soft skills.
Interested to know more about soft skills? This post gives over a hundred examples of soft skills you can develop for the workplace.
16. Get a job in my field of study
If you just graduated or are working in an unrelated field, you may need to take extra steps toward getting a job in your field of study. This could involve sending out resumes, attending job fairs, setting up online profiles, or getting an in-house transfer.
The company you are currently at may allow you to transition to your relevant department if something opens up.
17. Start my own business or side hustle
Even if you have an amazing day job, you can start a small business in your off time. Many side hustles become so successful that they eventually lead to quitting your day job.
Don’t be afraid to start small. If you dream of running a bakery, start by baking and selling some cakes or cookies on the weekends as you grow clients.
18. Learn more about the company
You may be surprised by how much you can learn about a company by simply doing some research. You don’t need to be on the inside to understand the company’s mission, values, and goals.
This research can come in handy during a job interview or performance review as you’ll be able to relate your goals to the company’s. Keep up with company info even after you get hired. Staying on top of things may lead to a promotion, raise, or knowledge of discounts others may not know about.
19. Make a career change
A career change can happen by switching to a new company or industry, getting promoted, or taking on a different role within your current company.
You may want to consider changing careers if you’re unhappy with your current situation, are interested in a new challenge, or want to earn more money.
The side hustle option mentioned above is one way to embark on a career change.
20. Get a pay raise
Do some research to see how much people in your field and region with your experience level are making. If you find that you’re significantly underpaid, start looking for a new job. If you’re just a little underpaid or think you could be making more, have a conversation with your boss.
You may be able to negotiate a pay raise by sharing your research, discussing your accomplishments, and having a solid case for why you deserve more money.
21. Revamp my work wardrobe
A new wardrobe may not seem like a career goal, but it can actually help you succeed in your job. Dressing for success can give you the confidence you need to tackle tough projects, make important decisions, and network with clients.
If you don’t have the budget for a complete makeover, start with a few key pieces that will help you feel your best.
22. Learn a new language related to career
Many jobs require at least some knowledge of a second language. Even if another language is not required, it can enhance your career and networking prospects.
For example, if you work in customer service, you may need to be able to speak Spanish to communicate with clients. If you’re in the business world, learning Mandarin may help you network with international clients and partners.
Start by taking a class or downloading a language-learning app. Then, practice using the new language as much as possible. If you are short on time, a language app allows you to study anytime, anywhere. You can also take classes with a live online tutor.
Short-Term Study Goals
23. Improve your overall academic performance
Doing well academically has several positive benefits. It can help you qualify for scholarships. You may not have to worry about money for college.
With good grades, you are usually more confident and more opportunities open up for you when it comes to social life and future career prospects.
24. Spend more time in the library this term
One surefire way to develop the mind is through reading. It helps you grasp the basic requirements in order to function in society.
Moreover, reading is a vital skill when you start looking for a well-paying job. In addition, it helps you discover interesting things about our world and develops your imagination. Reading also sharpens your creativity. Lastly, reading is essential in developing a healthy self-image.
25. Submit all your class requirements (research paper, projects, etc.) a week before their deadlines
Submitting your term paper, book report, projects ahead of time has certain advantages. It frees you from the stress of cramming to meet the deadline.
Finishing class requirements ahead of time is a reflection of your ability to manage your time wisely. Furthermore, once you’ve handed in your assignment, you’ll have peace of mind and you can spend your free time having fun.
26. Enhance your note-taking abilities
Taking notes in class has several benefits beyond the obvious recording of what transpired during a lecture. It actually heightens your alertness and helps you stay awake in class.
Effective note taking engages your brain and helps you organize the information you’re receiving. You are able to highlight the important parts of a lesson. Reviewing for an exam is easier with notes you’ve taken during class.
You can choose to write your notes by hand or use a note-taking app. Check out our review of the most effective note-taking apps currently available.
27. Get to know your professors
For a student whose long-term goal includes doing well in school, getting to know your lecture professors is one of the best short-term goals to help you achieve this. Keeping in contact with your professors can be an opportunity for getting higher grades because you are in the position to ask them further information about class materials.
Professors can be a source of inspiration that will be able to point you in the direction of the right career path. Moreover, they can inform you of available internships or career opportunities, considering that college professors are usually involved in various fields of research.
28. Spend less time on the TV
A 2016 Nielsen report revealed that American adults are glued to the TV screen on an average of 5 hours per day. This time could be used for studying or expanding your social circle.
When you watch less TV, you will increase your productivity, establish and strengthen meaningful relationships, and have sharper focus. Check out this post for the other positive benefits of lessening or stopping your TV habit.
29. Stop procrastinating
Procrastination can lead to stress, poor grades, and unfinished work. If you want to be successful in school, you need to learn to stop putting things off to the last minute. While cramming for exams is common, it is not the most effective way to learn.
30. Find a partner or form a study group
An accountability partner will help keep you on track with your studies. Find someone who is also taking the same course as you and agree to study together for a set amount of time each week.
If you can’t find a partner, try forming a study group with other students in your class. You can meet up to discuss the material and help each other prepare for exams.
31. Create a set study period at home
Set aside a set time to study at home each day. This will help you develop a routine and make time for studying in your busy schedule. Even if you finish your homework early, you can use your home study period to study something extra like a new language or topic.
Short-Term Health and Fitness Goals
32. Enroll in a fitness program at the gym
Exercise benefits you in so many ways. It keeps your endorphins up, thus improving your mood.
A regular fitness regimen can also help keep your weight down, and strengthens your muscles and improves your bone density. When done right, it can help you live longer. Now, isn’t that the long-term goal for most of us?
33. Buy new pair of running shoes
Keeping your motivation high when it comes to exercising can sometimes become a challenge. When you feel your commitment to exercise flagging, you might want to get yourself a new pair of running shoes or other exercise gear.
34. Get up between 5:30 and 6:00 am
Waking up earlier can help jump start success in other areas of your life. When you get up earlier than most people, you have the chance for “me” time.
Take this time to do some self-care before being swept away with the busy-ness of the day.
35. Cut back on eating out at restaurants and fast food joints
Unhealthy eating habits usually involve eating too much fast food. When you avoid dining out and prepare home-cooked meals as much as possible, you will see an improvement in your health, as well as in your pocket book.
Check out our suggestions on healthy slow-cooker meals you can try this week.
36. Weigh closer to your ideal weight
The closer your numbers are to your ideal weight, the happier you will be. It also means that you have a lower risk of developing health problems.
For more examples, check out our post on short term fitness goals you can focus on next.
37. Add green smoothies to routine
Green smoothies are a great way to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet. They are also an easy way to make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals. If you’re not sure how to make a green smoothie, there are plenty of recipes online.
To make a green smoothie, start by adding some spinach or kale to a blender. Then, add a banana, apple, and some water or juice. Blend everything together until it’s smooth. You can also add other ingredients, such as flaxseed or chia seeds.
38. Quit smoking
If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your health. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, wrinkles, and other health problems. It can also help you save money.
When you’re ready to quit smoking, there are plenty of resources to help you. You can start by talking to your doctor. There are also many quit-smoking programs available.
39. Leave the car keys behind
Try walking or riding your bike instead of driving all the time. Walking and biking are good exercises that can help you save money on gas and contribute to an eco-friendly life. A scenic walk to work or school may also help you relax and reduce stress.
If you live in a city, you may be able to take public transportation instead of driving. This mode of transport can also save money and keep fewer cars on the road.
40. Get a skin exam
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Early detection is key to treatment and survival. That’s why it’s important to get a skin exam every year.
If you have a family history of skin cancer, you may need to get more frequent skin exams. You can talk to your doctor about how often you should get a skin exam.
41. Cut down on alcohol
Happy hour is a fun way to socialize with friends and colleagues. You can enjoy this time without going overboard. Try to stick to one or two drinks. Sip your drink slowly and alternate with water.
Cutting down on booze will improve your health, help you save money, and may even make you more productive.
Short-Term Personal Goals
42. Write 2 pages in your journal every morning
Enrich your personal life and unleash your creativity with this new habit. Journaling allows you to be more present in your daily life.
The act of writing down your thoughts is a form of meditation that keeps you rooted to the present. If you’re a writer, this habit can help improve your craft immensely. For the non-writers, keeping a journal helps you develop self-awareness.
43. Establish a morning routine
Getting up early, your daily journal writing, and a fitness regimen the moment you wake up can all be part of a morning routine. A set morning routine teaches you discipline in how you go about your day.
The positive benefits of this short-term personal goal can spill over to other areas of your life, giving it a sense of order and harmony.
44. Develop one positive habit this month
You may never realize it but habits dictate our lives. Almost half of your actions during the day are not done by conscious choice but by force of habit.
Habits are such a powerful force that you must learn to develop positive ones. Head over to our post that lists over 200 good daily habits that you can apply in your own life.
45. Try something new every day
Embrace the unknown. Learn a new skill today. When you do, you are actually helping your brain become better at absorbing new information.
When you try something new each day, you will be a more interesting person. You’ll find that it’s easier to relate to others. There will never be a boring day if you have something new to look forward to each time.
46. Attend at least two local personal-development seminars this year
Personal development is not only limited to the workplace. We never really stop learning.
Attending personal-development workshops is a great way of improving yourself. It is also an opportunity to expand your network.
47. Find Inspiring media
Look for some inspiring podcasts, book series, or tv series that can help you on your personal growth journey. It can be really helpful to have some sort of motivation when working on bettering yourself.
48. Take yourself out on a date
Whether you are single or attached, treat yourself to a special date every once in a while. It doesn’t have to be anything big or fancy. Just something to show yourself some love.
49. Get back to an old skill
Do you wish you continued playing the flute, painting, or biking? It’s never too late to get back into an old hobby (even one from childhood), and you may find you enjoy it now more than ever.
50. Start a journal
Daily journaling is a great way to write down things you are grateful for, document your personal growth journey, and work through any challenges you may be facing. You can always look back through old entries to see how far you have come.
Short-Term Goals for Relationships
51. Create daily family rituals
Daily rituals give members of the family, especially the younger ones, a sense of belonging. These activities help bring the members closer to each other.
If you are a parent, the rituals can be the springboard for teaching family values such as responsibility, compassion, and kindness.
52. Make at least one new friend
You are never too old to make a new friend. Bringing new people into your life where you are now can help you learn and grow from different perspectives.
While those old friends are treasures, some may not be able to understand the point you are at now.
53. Have a weekly date night
If you are in a relationship, make time for a regular date night. This romantic evening can always be at home – just make sure you don't get disturbed. Date night is a great way to keep the romance alive and reconnect with your partner. If you have kids, you may need to hire a babysitter or trade-off with another couple.
54. Volunteer together
Volunteering is a great way to give back and it can also be a bonding experience for couples. Find a cause that you are both passionate about and sign up to volunteer together.
You can build houses with Habitat for Humanity, walk dogs at the local animal shelter, or serve meals at a soup kitchen. Help the environment and clean up your local park or beach.
55. Reconnect with an old friend or family member
With our busy lives, it's easy to lose touch with the people we care about. Make an effort to reconnect with an old friend or family member. You may be surprised at how much you have in common now. However, don't be alarmed if you don't end up close again – some people are just meant to be in our lives for a season.
Short-Term Goals for Spirituality
56. Create daily affirmations
Choose a few positive affirmations that resonate with you and write them down. Read them out loud to yourself each day, preferably in the morning when you wake up. Doing this activity regularly can help train your mind to focus on the positive and attract more good into your life.
57. Read different spiritual scriptures
From the bible, the Koran, to the Bhagavad Gita, there are many spiritual scriptures out there. Pick one that you are curious about and commit to reading a bit each day. You may find that it provides you with guidance and wisdom in your life.
Well, that’s it. Short-term goals are just as important as long-term ones.
As a reminder, your full commitment is necessary to achieve the goals you set for yourself, whether they are for intermediate, medium term, or short or long term. (To help you plan better, you can use one of these monthly goals templates.)
Rewarding yourself when you’ve accomplished a goal is a way to stay motivated. Check out our article on how to reward yourself after accomplishing a task or goal for ideas to try.
Which specific short-term goals examples resonate with you? We’d love to hear about your own experience of having goals that changed your life. Feel free to share it in the comments section below.
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.