Are Short Term Goals Pointless?

Of course not, but I really needed to get your attention so I had to come up with something provocative.

Short term goals are actually an essential part of any goal setting plan. But they tell me catchy headlines attract readers, so I thought I’d see for myself ….. 🙂

The are two key things to know about short term goals:

  1. They are important to creating and maintaining motivation
  2. They are essential to accomplishing any goal that takes more than a couple of days to complete.

I’ve said it multiple times throughout the pages on this site, because it’s so important, and I’ll say it again: The key to achieving any significant goal is to stay motivated, staying focused to the task at hand. One of the important aspects of motivation is staying aware of the benefit you are seeking, whether it’s debt relief, financial freedom, weight loss …. whatever. If you can keep that carrot dangling in front of your nose, metaphorically speaking, there’s a good chance you’ll stay engaged for the long haul.

The other important element of motivation is to have rewards or accomplishments identified within reach along the path. Similar to the example of the farmer who tied a carrot to a stick and dangled it just 12 inches in front of his mule to keep him moving forward to try to reach the carrot, it works when we need goals or objectives easily within reach to help us maintain our momentum and progress.

David Allen wrote the best seller “Getting Things Done”, and one of the key principles in that book is the idea of the “next action”, which is analogous to a short term goal. Allen says we should always be absolutely clear about the next thing we need to do for a project or goal, so we don’t end up procrastinating as we summon the mental energy to sift through all the facts to determine what’s we need to do at any time.

That’s exactly what short term goals do. First we identify our major milestones, then we break those down into short term goals that are easily reachable and leave little doubt about what we should be doing at any point in time. The tasks to accomplish a short term goal should also be expressly stated, or so obvious that it’s not necessary.

Short term goals aren’t dumb. They’re smart. Very, very smart! (Did anyone remember the 4 episodes of Colonel Flagg on M*A*S*H? 🙂 If so, let me know.)

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