I was recently walking on the Cornish Coastal Path; it's a beautiful, windswept trail with plenty of challenging climbs and descents. On one particularly steep ascent, I remembered a tip I read many moons ago in a mountain biking magazine.
The tip was about tackling long arduous climbs: it described how if you only focus on the top, your mind will begin to doubt that you can get there, and you are more likely to fail. However, if you look just a few yards ahead, far enough to avoid any obstacles, you will grind out the climb almost without fail.
The trick is to focus on the task ahead, only occasionally glancing up to make sure that you are on track to achieve your ultimate goal. I applied this trick and tackled every climb comfortably.
The experience brought to mind how setting short-term goals can be the perfect way to crush longer-term targets, and this is why.
The Value Of Setting Goals
Clear, measurable goals are essential to ensure you know where you are going, maintain momentum and know when your efforts are paying off.
Usually, what separates winners and high achievers from everyone else is the goals that they set for themselves and their determination to achieving them - their grit.
One of the key tricks for goal setting is to make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic and Time-bound) but to also keep them short term as part of a longer-term objective. This way you can keep up the pace, sprinting from one goal to the next and achieving your longer-term ambitions quicker and with better results.
Benefits Of Short-Term Goals
Here are a few benefits that you will get from setting short-term targets
- They are simple and easy to accomplish
- They do not require long-term commitment
- It is a great way to create momentum
- They allow you to stay on track and keep your motivation high
- They help to boost your self-confidence
- They provide you with instant feedback to measure your performance and progress
- And they guarantee something we all love – quick results!
A Winning Routine For Using Short-Term Targets
A common mistake that people make when setting goals is to create the long-term vision and skip the detail of what needs to happen day after day to build a platform for success.
This 5 step routine will help you translate a long term goal into hitting your daily targets to make success easier.
- At the start of the year, set your targets for the following 12 months. Make sure you ask yourself, “What do I need to do to reach my long-term goal?”. Once you have set out your new annual plan ask yourself, “If I achieve this annual plan, will it help me achieve my longer-term goals?” Be 100% certain that it will before committing to it, you cannot afford to waste a whole year going in the wrong direction. Now break your annual target into quarterly milestones; this is where the detail starts to take shape.
- Quarterly, review your progress toward your annual goal. Be honest with yourself. Don't make excuses for the targets you've missed. Look for the root cause of any issues that are holding you back and finds ways to overcome them. Set your priorities for the next quarter. You are allowed no more than 3. You need to focus all of your energy, passion and intensity towards these 3 priorities to ensure that you stay on track to meet your annual target. Now, step back and ask yourself, “What do I absolutely need to do over the next three months to achieve my annual goals?” Define it, commit to it, and set your monthly and weekly targets and actions for the next three months.
- Once per month, meet with a small group of people you trust to review what you’re doing, where you’re headed, what you’ll do in the next month, and get ideas for how you can achieve more and overcome any minor problems that are holding you back. Be specific about what you need to achieve in the next 30 days and make action orientated lists with clear deadlines.
- Every Friday afternoon, review your week and set your goals and actions for the following week. Review your goals weekly with a goals partner. Ideally, your goals partner should be someone who is also pursuing their own goals, it can be a peer, a coach, or a friend, but it’s someone you explicitly work with each week, for half an hour or so, to make sure you’re on top of your goals, staying committed, and pushing yourself. This is also a great opportunity to share challenges and brainstorm ideas.
- Make reviewing your goals a daily routine. Visualise and verbalise your long-term goal first thing every morning. Once you're focused and have your long-term goal in your mind, review your plan for the day and check that everything you are planning to do contributes to your longer-term objective. At the end of each day, review how your day went, then set your goals and actions for the next day.
The trick to setting short term goals is making sure that they build up, day by day, week by week to help you reach your longer-term plan. Whether it is earnings related, based around your career path or a personal goal about retirement age or savings, you need that daily achievement with regular checks that you are on the right path.
Before you know it, you will be near the summit and you will have crushed your goals.
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