Goal-setting takes focus and intention.
Setting goals—both small and large—is vital to your success, and that of your business. — Getty Images/chee gin tan

It’s easy to get caught up in your day-to-day tasks without considering what you want the future to bring. Many people work hard every day but feel as though they are drifting through life. The best way to combat feeling adrift in the world is to learn how to set achievable and meaningful goals for yourself or your business.

Whether you are trying to pay off personal debt, grow your team or build a business empire from scratch, knowing how to set both long-term and short-term goals, and then acting on them, is the key to your success. These tips will help you create both long- and short-term goals so you can bring your vision to life.

[Read: 5 Simple Steps to Finding a Mentor]

The difference between short-term and long-term goals

While there are many different types of goals, the two overarching categories are short-term and long-term goals. In general, short-term goals can be finished within a six-month to three-year time frame while long-term goals may take anywhere from three to five years (or even longer).

In many cases, a long-term goal requires and consists of many smaller, short-term goals. These smaller goals break the “big picture” vision down to bite-sized tasks. For example, you may have to clear a few short-term goals, such as researching a niche market, creating a landing page and auditing your brand strategy, before the long-term goal: launching a new marketing campaign.

Short-term goals can help you work towards that long-term goal or they can be goals you’ve set for isolated milestones in your life.

Tips to create short-term goals

Here are three steps to take when planning your short-term goals:

Identify long-term goals

Knowing your long-term goals will help you break them down into smaller, bite-sized goals to work through before you reach your end game. Evaluate and identify a goal that would take a considerable amount of time and effort for you to reach, such as opening a brick-and-mortar store.

Set SMART goals

The SMART formula is a system designed to help you achieve your goals faster by getting as specific as possible on what it is you’re wanting out of your goals. The SMART formula has you go through your goals to ensure they are:

  • Specific.
  • Measurable.
  • Achievable/Attainable.
  • Relevant/Realistic.
  • Time-based.

For example, a good SMART goal is, “I will create a new landing page tailored to this specific niche audience in 15 days.”

[Read: 6 Tips for Setting Employee Goals]

Create short-term goals for the intermittent steps towards your long-term goal’s bottom line.

Keep track of your progress

There are many ways you can track your progress on your short-term goals and see how they’re leading you to your long-term goals. Examples include:

  • Writing in a journal on what you have completed for your goal each day.
  • Keeping a running tally of days in a row you have worked on your goal.
  • Share your progress with a mentor or trusted friend to help keep you accountable.
  • Visualize yourself already completing this goal or working towards your goal either before you go to bed or as soon as you wake up.

Tips to create long-term goals

In addition to your short-term goal list, here are some methods to help you envision your goals across the long term:

Think of where you want to be in 10 years

You can break your goals down into different categories from financial to personal. It's also helpful if you align your goals to your values and what means the most to you. This makes them more personal, giving you greater drive to completing them in the long run.

Work backwards from that goal

It may seem counterintuitive to work backwards. However, starting at the finish line — as though you’ve already completed your goal — allows you to create tangible steps without becoming overwhelmed and losing sight of the long-term vision. Working backwards allows you to already feel the accomplishment and give you a boost of insight in how to reach it.

Break long-term goals into small, attainable steps

Create short-term goals for the intermittent steps towards your long-term goal’s bottom line. An example would be writing 100 words a day (short-term goal) towards writing a novel (long-term goal).

Create monthly, short-term goals

Sit down with yourself monthly to go over your plan to reach your long-term goal. Create short-term goals based on what’s going on that particular month.

Adjust goals as priorities change

As time goes on, your goals may change. Check in with yourself as often as you can and don’t be afraid to adjust, tweak or even scrap your plans to start anew in your long-term goal’s journey. Use your monthly check-ins to make sure your goal is on the same page as it was when you began.

[Read: 10 Well-Known Businesses That Were Started With Less Than $10,000]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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