How to Set a Short Term Goal

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What is a Short Term Goal

A short-term goal is any goal you want to accomplish relatively soon, generally in 12 months or less.

When you define your short-term goal, it helps you reduce procrastination and focus on the actions that will achieve your desired outcome.

How to Define Your Goal

The SMART goals framework is a great tool to help you set yourself up for success. It helps you define the details of your goal so you can achieve it more easily and effectively.

Here’s how to use it for your short-term goal:


Be specific about the outcome you want to achieve.

For example, instead of a goal like “be healthier this year” which is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, drill down until it feels directly actionable, such as “eat a paleo diet every day this year” or “run the Los Angeles marathon in 8 months”.


Decide how you’ll measure your progress. If you’re not sure how to measure it, your goal might not be specific enough.

For goals that you want to work towards daily, like doing a Whole30 or walking every day, you can track your progress in a bullet journal, a habit tracker app, a spreadsheet, or a simple grid on a note card. Just check off each day that you do the thing.

You can also set milestones to measure your progress. If you want to write the first draft of a book, you can set word count objectives for each day or week. If you want to run a marathon, try setting mileage milestones and sign up for smaller races to coincide with your milestones.


Set a goal that is is realistic for your situation and time frame.

If you want to become an Art Director at a branding agency in 6 months but are still learning the basics of design, that goal likely isn’t going to be achievable.

Instead you might make that goal a long-term goal and find short-term goals you can set to get you there, like building a design portfolio with 10 pieces or finding a mentor.


Make sure your short-term goal is in alignment with your long-term goals.

You also want to make sure your goal makes sense for the current you in your current life.


Set a target date or time frame for your goal. This helps make sure your goal stays at the forefront of your focus and won’t get pushed aside by daily tasks or less important things that might come up.

If you’re not sure what a realistic time frame might be, try using your milestones as a guidepost.

For example, if you’d like to write a first draft of a novel that’s around 60k words, use your weekly word count milestones to set a tentative deadline.

Check-in Regularly

Depending on your goal, schedule time to do daily or weekly check-ins with yourself.

Evaluate your progress and be honest with yourself if you’re struggling or experiencing a setback. It’s okay to change your deadline or time frame if your progress is slower (or faster) than you initially planned.

The important thing is that you keep progressing towards your goal, however slowly or quickly.

Focus on the Process

To make reaching your goal a more enjoyable and fulfilling experience, make sure to focus on the process just as much, if not moreso, than the goal itself.

When you focus only the goal or outcome, you end up with a short-lived happiness. The moment of success is a great one, but it doesn’t last long – the notion of hedonic adaptation means that we return to our level of happiness after a major positive or negative event. Often this results in our chasing that fleeting feeling of success like a drug.

The process is the driving force behind your outcomes. If you focus on the process and entirely forget about your goals, you’re likely to still reach them.

A consistent process also helps you develop good habits that can compound over time and completely change your life.

Goals can give direction to your processes and can be a tool by which to actively design your lifestyle. Try to find a healthy balance between setting goals and focusing on the process.

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