The importance of setting short-term goals (with examples)

Zdjęcie współautorki – Sarah LaoyanSarah Laoyan
5 stycznia 2024
7 min czytania
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Goals help you take action on larger ideas or visions. Short-term goals specifically help you to plan and take action on tasks that can be completed in the near future. In this article, get two strategies to help you create short-term goals more effectively. Then, check out some examples of short-term goals, plus how to track and use them so they have the highest impact.

We all have goals, both at work and in our personal lives. Buy a house, start a new company, manage a team—the list could go on. Now consider those above statements: Are they actionable goals or are they just a general dream you hope to achieve? In this article, we'll discuss how you can set good goals to help you with both personal and professional development.

Whether it’s launching a new product with your team, building your dream house, or achieving your big hairy audacious goals (BHAGs), it's easy to feel overwhelmed when your goal is a large, ambiguous idea. Setting short-term goals can help you reach larger objectives and make progress towards your desired outcome.

What is a short-term goal?

A short-term goal is a goal that you want to complete in the near future, such as within the next week or the next month. These are often stepping stones towards larger goals, though not always. You can also use short-term goals to take action on smaller projects or ideas. As a result, short-term goals tend to be easier to achieve. 

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20 examples of short-term goals

10 short-term professional goals examples:

  1. Manage the next quarterly project from start to finish in Q3.

  2. Get certified in a project management tool by EOY.

  3. Increase net promoter score by five points this quarter.

  4. Build social reach with five LinkedIn posts a day for the next 30 days.

  5. Schedule three networking lunches this month.

  6. Call 50 new prospects this quarter.

  7. Log off at 6:00 PM every day this week.

  8. Reduce creative requests backlog by 10% in Q1.

  9. Publish six new blog posts in the next 60 days.

  10. Update portfolio with new designs by end of next month.

10 personal short-term goals examples:

  1. Put 5% of your monthly income into a savings account starting next month.

  2. Eat meat-free dinners one day a week starting today.

  3. Read two books this month.

  4. Reduce screen time daily average by 15 minutes this week.

  5. Track spending for 30 days.

  6. Call a friend every Saturday morning this month.

  7. Walk for 15 minutes every day starting next week.

  8. Practice daily deep breathing for the next 60 days.

  9. Journal for 20 minutes every Sunday starting next month.

  10. Play with your kids for 30 minutes every night starting today.

Notice that ‌these goals all have a specific time frame assigned to them. This makes your goal more actionable by connecting those actions to a specific amount of time.

What are the benefits of setting short term goals?

Short-term goals can be used to break down larger, more general goals. They don’t replace these big, overarching goals, but rather give you a path to achieve them.

Setting and working on short-term goals helps you:

  • Realize what you can accomplish today and take action

  • Get quick feedback

  • Get started faster

  • Define deadlines

  • Manage and prioritize tasks 

The difference between short-term goals and long-term goals

A long-term goal is your North Star. It’s the bigger objective that you want to achieve. Short-term goals are different. They focus on a smaller portion of work in a shorter time frame. By breaking a larger, long-term goal into many short-term goals, you can prevent procrastination and stay focused on the task at hand. 

Let's look at an example of a long-term goal that has smaller short-term goals built into the action plan.

Long term goal: A sales team is looking to close $500,000 in new sales in the next year. 

Short term goal: The small- and medium-sized sales team wants to close $50,000 in new sales in Q1.

You could then break the short-term goal down into even smaller, more specific goals assigned to each sales representative. For example, Areej will aim to close $8,000 in new sales during each month of the quarter.

Strategies for setting short-term goals

Being strategic about how you set your goals can help focus them—which will ultimately make it more likely that your goals pay off. Try these strategies to get more specific, actionable short-term goals:


SMART goals are a common goal setting technique. SMART is an acronym that stands for:

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Achievable

  • Realistic

  • Time-bound

Ensuring that your goals contain every facet of a SMART goal can help you get clear on what you want to accomplish, how you’re going to do it, and when it needs to be done.

[Przeczytaj] Twórz lepsze cele SMART korzystając z tych wskazówek i przykładów

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

When setting short-term goals, it's important to connect specific actions to your goals. By creating actionable stepping stones, you can set up a strong roadmap towards achieving your goals—both short-term and long-term ones.

You can see this approach in action with OKRs, or objectives and key results. The objective is the goal you want to achieve. The key results are the metrics by which you'll measure progress towards those goals.

[Przeczytaj] Jak wyznaczać OKR-y

Goals can be used in conjunction with OKRs to help you make progress on key results. Think about what actions you need to take to achieve the desired key results and use those to set your goals. 

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Example of how to set short-term goals

Let’s say your social media team's OKR is to increase your social media following by 400% this fiscal year. 

There's no clear plan for how to get to that 400%, so the team gets together to brainstorm actionable steps they can take to increase their social media following. One team member suggests hosting giveaways twice a quarter to increase follower counts. Another team member suggests using paid ads to increase awareness. Another suggests working with different influencers every week to promote their brand. 

All three of these ideas are good options, and all of them can be set as short-term goals to achieve the main OKR. Here's what those three goals would look like written out:

  1. Host a giveaway two times a quarter.

  2. Gain 250 followers through paid advertisements every quarter.

  3. Promote each account through an influencer channel once a week.

Each of these shorter goals focuses specifically on a task that contributes to a longer-term company goal. Aligning tasks with smaller team goals, and bigger company objectives is a central aspect of building a pyramid of clarity. With the pyramid of clarity, you can connect your day-to-day work to your short-term goals. That way, your entire team is working towards the same objective, bringing your organization closer to achieving it.

[Przeczytaj] Jak utworzyć piramidę przejrzystości z Celami w Asanie

Tracking goal progress

Whether it’s a long-term career goal or a short-term personal one, goal tracking is essential to ensure that you’re making progress. 

According to a recent survey by Asana, only 26% of knowledge workers have a very clear understanding of how their work contributes to company goals. If your team members don’t know what goals they're contributing to, they might not be producing work that impacts those big picture company goals.

Goal tracking helps you see if the work your team is doing contributes towards a bigger goal. But how do you ensure that your team is regularly working towards those goals? Here are a few strategies:

  • Communicate progress clearly: When everybody sees how work is progressing, there's no confusion as to whether or not the work is contributing to the goal. 

  • Create (and celebrate!) project milestones: As your team progresses, it's important to celebrate incremental progress so they don't get discouraged halfway through or lose focus.

  • Manage goals with software: Connect your team's work with your company's goals all in one place. By using work management software like Asana, your team will have one source of truth for all work. 

One of the major benefits of goal tracking is that it gives you visibility into whether your strategies are working. If you're actively monitoring your key results and not seeing the desired outcomes, you can dig further to discover what’s missing. Does one of your team members have too much on their plate? Is one of your strategies not as effective as you thought it would be?

[Przeczytaj] Jak efektywnie zarządzać obciążeniem zespołu

Monitoring your goals gives you the opportunity to pivot your strategy when things aren’t going according to plan. 

Using short-term goals for professional development

You might not be able to control everything about your professional life, but setting goals helps you take advantage of those you can control. Whether it’s prepping for a review six months away, taking an online course, or a complete career change, these short-term goals will help you zero in on how to move the needle in your professional life.

Managing team goals to become an effective manager

As a manager, it could be challenging to create your own personal goals without first looking at your team’s individual goals. Great managers help unblock contributors so that goal-achieving tasks can get done. 

Before setting personal goals as a manager, look at your team’s goals. Base your goals on the work your team is contributing to so that everyone is aligned and making progress. 

Monitoring personal professional development with short-term goals

In addition to using short-term career goals to monitor your team’s or company's progress, you can monitor short-term goals to track your own—or a team member’s—personal development. If you’re developing new skills or taking on new responsibilities, track how those skills are helping you achieve your goals. 

Let’s look at an example.

Taylor is a sales development representative at a SaaS company. They don’t particularly enjoy spending time on sales calls, but they’ve found several tools to help them create an automated email flow to reach out to their prospects. 

Taylor’s manager notices that they are not making the recommended number of sales calls, but they’re still hitting their sales goals because of how well their prospect emails convert.

Taylor’s manager sees this as an opportunity for growth, and asks Taylor if they would like to transition to a role that allows them to further create email marketing opportunities for other SDRs on the team. By monitoring how Taylor was progressing towards their goals, Taylor’s manager was able to create an opportunity for them to grow into a position that was a strong fit for their skillset. 

Setting goals for your own personal development

Goals can be used to help your personal development as well. If you have long-term life goals, you can set up short-term personal goals as you would professional ones. Set measurable goals to serve as small stepping stones for your progress. 

You can use short-term personal goals for a variety of different aspirations. For example, you can set up short-term financial goals to hit a bigger goal of reducing credit card debt. Or, maybe you use weekly goals to develop a fitness or morning routine. These shorter, targeted goals can have a big impact on your daily life.

Here’s an example of how you can break down a personal goal:

Long-term personal goal: Run a half marathon within 6 months 

Short-term goals:

  • Be able to run a mile without stopping by end of week 2

  • Run a 5K by the end of month 1 in under 35 minutes

  • Run a 10K by the end of month 2 in under an hour

As you can see, the short-term goals are incremental, but they all work together to achieve the big goal at the end—running a marathon.

Track short-term goals more effectively

Looking for a way to effectively track your goals, both short-term and long-term? Tracking your goals using work management software like Asana can help you break your goals into actionable tasks.

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