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How To Set Short, Mid, and Long Term Goals + Why You Need To

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We talked about setting goals for the year back in January (this post).

The goals that I set were all what I would consider short term goals, or goals that are to be accomplished in one year or less. You can read my latest goals update here.

But I’ve been realizing lately that it’s also important to set mid-term goals and long-term goals. I consider mid term goals to be things you want to accomplish in the next 3 to 5 years. Long term goals are for 10 years and beyond.

Why should you be thinking about all of these goals?

Well, some things take a lot longer than a year to accomplish.

If you want to make a career change that will take extra training and education, you need to be thinking pretty far in advance to be able to make that happen.

If you want to pay off your house early or be able to pay for your kids to go to college, that is going to take a lot of planning, years in advance.

In general, the things that we want don’t just happen because we hope that they will. It takes hard work and planning to make your dreams a reality. I don’t want to be sitting around wishing something good would happen to me when I could be out making sure it does! I want to live on purpose!

It’s important to make goals that are specific and realistic.

Specific: It is important that your goals are specific so that you know if you’ve achieved them or not. If you want to eat healthier, how will you know if you’ve done it? But if you want to eat at least four servings of fruits and vegetables and drink six glasses of water a day, then you can easily tell if you’ve done it or not.

Realistic: If you set unrealistic goals, you’re setting yourself up for failure. If you want to save $5000 for an emergency fund, but you usually only have $45 left at the end of every month to save, you most likely will fail (unless you have a specific plan for making extra income). I want to set a goal that I can realistically achieve so that I can succeed!

Some examples of short term goals

Remember, these are goals that are to be accomplished in a year or less.

  • Exercise 4 days a week
  • Pay off a few small debts
  • Save a specific amount of money for an emergency fund
  • Save money for a trip coming soon
  • Learn a new hobby
  • Lose 20 lbs
  • Take a class
  • Go on monthly dates with your special someone

Some examples of mid term goals:

These goals might take 3-5 years to accomplish.

  • Finish a bachelor’s or master’s degree program
  • Move to a new city
  • Change careers
  • Purchase a house
  • Pay off all debts (probably not including a mortgage)
  • Start a family

Some examples of long term goals:

Long term goals will take 10 or more years.

  • Retire early
  • Pay off mortgage
  • Pay for children to go to college
  • Be able to purchase a vacation home

How do you come up with short, mid, and long term goals?

Ask yourself, “What do I want my life to look like in 1, 5, or 10 years?”

By thinking about your future and what you hope you will have accomplished in the next “however many” years, you can create goals that will get you there.

Do you want to still have the exact same job, house, debt, fitness level, or skills that you have now? If not, then you can set goals for how you would like to grow and change through the years.

But setting goals isn’t enough

To really make your goals happen, you need to figure out what steps need to happen for you to accomplish those goals.

Just saying that your goal is to pay for your children to go to college won’t make it happen. You need to decide how much you want to save for each child and then break that up into a monthly or yearly savings goal.

If you want to change careers, figure out what training and skills you will need to get that new job. Create a schedule for how you will take classes that you need so that you will be ready for your new career.

If you want to purchase a house in the next 3 years, estimate how much of a down payment you will need to have saved up and start saving for it. Figure out how much you will need to have saved each month or year to meet your goal.

Don’t be like me: We have a goal to purchase a house on a lake by our 10 year anniversary. We’ve talked about this being something we wanted to do since around our first anniversary. Well, this year will be our 6 year anniversary, and other than the equity in our current home, we don’t have any extra money set aside to make our lake house happen. I just never really thought about it. But now that I’m realizing that 10 years isn’t that far away, this goal won’t happen unless we get saving! If we had been working on this goal for the last 5 years, we could have a good chunk saved by now!


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Friday 18th of March 2016

Thanks for the tips! I always set monthly goals and write them down in my little note book. At the end of the month I review and adjust them.

Linda Luke

Friday 18th of March 2016

Great tips. I list and review my goals every 6 months and set new intentions. The smallest shorter goals are usually baby steps leading to the large ones. Completing baby steps feels good and builds momentum so the long term goals evolve more easily. Great blog! I'm a simple girl too.


Friday 18th of March 2016

Thanks Linda! Completing baby steps towards big goals is so exciting and motivating. Sounds like you're a goal-setting pro!