One of the most effective ways to achieve important goals in your life is to break those big, seemingly insurmountable goals up into smaller ones. Long-term, medium-term, and short-term goals are all necessary in a successful goal setting strategy – and can provide you with just the road map you need to be successful.
Using enabling, or supporting goals will ensure that you’re consistently taking those small but necessary steps toward achieving the life you desire.
The best way to achieve those complex, multi-layered goals is with a mix of short, medium, and long-term goals. Each of these has different benefits and can help launch you forward toward the end result that you ultimately are seeking.
What ties the whole process together are enabling goals. These are goals that are intentionally created as stepping-stones – helping you build on them and the success of achieving them, to energize and encourage you to achieve your medium and long-term goals.
Try this step-by-step goal setting strategy to move your dreams into the realm of reality:
1. Set your long-term goals first. What do you want to achieve in the next few years? These are broad, sometimes scary, audacious goals that will take some time to achieve. They are ‘stretch and grow’ goals, like buying a home, losing a significant amount of weight, or starting your own business. Your long-term goals are the foundation for goal setting as they define where you want to be in the future, and they are currently out of reach, forcing you to get stronger, smarter and more focused in order to achieve them.
NOTE: Long-term goals should be obtainable within a set number of years – don’t give them a “someday” timetable. Try to give your goals a specific time frame, such as buying a home in five years or achieving your goal weight in two years. Putting that definite timetable on them helps light the fire of motivation and keep you moving in a positive direction.
2. Set your medium term goals next. Let these act as large stepping-stones to help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if your goal is to lose 100 pounds in two years, let a medium-term goal be to achieve a 50 pound loss in the next 9 – 12 months, building toward your long-term goal. Setting a reasonable goal between where you stand now and the ultimate goal you hope to achieve will help to keep you motivated during the times when your long-term goal feels much too far away.
NOTE: Medium term goals should also have specific time frames in mind – the success of your long-term goals and aspirations build on the achievements in the medium term.
3. Finally, focus on your short-term goals. These are goals that you can achieve more readily, within a shorter time frame – like months instead of years. Set short-term goals for each month of your weight loss program, for example. Or start with setting a goal to get rid of all the junk food in your kitchen, and a goal to meet with a coach or trainer so that you can outline your fitness plan. These goals guide you along the path toward medium and long-term goals by helping you ‘sweat the details’, making the initial steps toward success.
NOTE: Short-term goals can be anything you want them to be, but they should be enabling goals. This means that they should be small, but definite, steps toward your long-term goal. Don’t get distracted by setting goals that will not move you toward your ultimate result.
Follow the SMART goal setting strategy for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely short-term goals that you know you can achieve – the success you experience will help to keep you motivated.
Long-term goals tend to be the most meaningful and important, which is why they take so much time to achieve. But don’t just focus your attention on the big picture goals, when it is medium and short-term goals that will allow you to get there. Focus on all three types of goals – drawing a picture of how they all fit together – when planning for your future.
The intentional you are in creating a plan to reach your goals, the better the results are likely to be, but don’t get bogged down. Set some action steps in place and then start making things happen. Planning and forethought can go a long way in helping you achieve what you really desire in your life – giving you a specific direction for your actions and your energy.