Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution and not followed through? Well, you’re not alone; only 9% of people successfully achieve their resolutions. 

Setting and achieving goals can be challenging. But suppose you’re looking to make a career change, like learning the skills to become a project manager or seeking a promotion. To achieve these targets, you need to set time-bound goals.  

Today, we’ll focus on distinguishing between short-term and long-term goals and why time-bound goals are essential to set you up for success. We’ll also share tips to help you set, keep your word, and achieve those goals.

Table of contents – 

What are short-term goals? 

What are long-term goals?

Why are long-term and short-term goals important?

How to set and keep your goals?

What are short-term goals?

Short-term goals can be achieved relatively quickly and may only require a little planning. They are easier to measure and can add up to achieving a long-term goal. These goals inspire confidence and keep you motivated, especially if they help you progress toward a more significant achievement, such as becoming a manager. But remember, these shouldn’t take longer than one year at most to achieve. 

What’s an example of a short-term goal and how to achieve it?  

Short-term Goal: Run 15 miles a week (for 8 weeks).

The plan you set up to achieve this goal: 

  • Run 3 miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
  • Cross-Train on Tues/Thurs for 30 minutes
  • Do one 6-mile run on Saturday
What are long-term goals?

What are long-term goals? 

Long-term goals are achieved over a long span of time. These are harder to measure because they can take years to complete. You may need to adjust these goals if unexpected challenges arise. You’ll need to develop a detailed plan with smaller goals or steps to achieve long-term goals. You’ll also need to consider how you plan to measure these goals. 

What’s an example of a long-term goal and how to achieve it?  

Let’s return to the example that involves running but using a long-term goal example. 

Long-term Goal: Complete your first marathon

Before coming up with a plan, answer the following questions: 

  1. What? Run the Boston Marathon 2023
  2. When? April 17, 2023 (Approximately one year)
  3. How? By following a weekly training calendar from now until then.

Below is a sample plan. It’s the first 16 weeks of a training calendar. 

Weeks 1-8: Run 15 miles per week.

  • Run 3 miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
  • Cross-Train on Tues/Thurs for 30 minutes.
  • Do one 6-mile run on Saturday. 

Weeks 9-16: Run 20 miles per week. 

  • Run 4 miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
  • Cross-Train on Tues/Thurs for 30 minutes.
  • Do one 8-mile run on Saturday. 

The training calendar is a detailed plan that includes several short-term goals and steps to reach them. It helps you prepare for your bigger goal of running a marathon.

Why are long-term and short-term goals important? 

These goals are interconnected, as shown in the examples above. Long-term goals require more effort, while short-term goals are building blocks that can help you reach your bigger goals. 

For example, you want to move from being a digital marketing specialist to a manager. Below are some short-term goals you might include in your promotion action plan to achieve your long-term goal of becoming a manager.

  1. Perform a skills audit to determine if you need to take an online program to upskill
  2. Research certificate programs or courses to learn essential skills. 
  3. Create milestones and schedule milestone check-ins to make sure you’re progressing. 
  4. Speak with your manager and invite them to milestone check-ins every quarter. 
  5. Take opportunities to present and work on those communication skills. 
  6. Apply your new skills at work. 

Remember, early goal setting can help you plan a solid career path. Setting goals enables you to achieve personal and professional success in your life. 

There are many reasons why setting goals is  important, but below, we’ve listed four that stand out:

  1. Gives you direction. A clear goal helps you create a destination for your dreams – something to strive for. Goals keep you focused. You’re also less likely to be overwhelmed because you made a plan or roadmap to achieve your goals. 
  2. Keep you efficient and productive. At work, putting together a weekly to-do list of tasks to meet your monthly/or quarterly goals is extremely helpful. It keeps you on task and helps you meet deadlines. 
  3. Keep you motivated. When you achieve a goal, you feel great. Working towards something you want on a personal level will give you continued momentum, which is why goals are important.
  4. Narrows down what’s important to you. You may find life confusing, but failing to make time for yourself and your goals will lead to chaos. Setting goals allows you to sit down and ask: what do I want? And how do I get it? You will likely work harder and progress if you focus on your passions and what you want out of life.
How to set goals?

How to set and keep your goals 

Short-term and long-term goals require different strategies. Below we share a few tips to accomplish both types of goals.

3 tips for setting and keeping short-term goals:

  1. Use your long-term goal as a starting point. Sit down and think about what you want in the next year or 5-10 years. Then come up with a list of short-term goals that will support you in achieving your long-term goal. Completing these smaller goals will help motivate you to continue and improve your confidence. 
  2. Remember the SMART method. S.M.A.R.T is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. All of Pathstream’s programs cover the SMART strategy. 
    • Specific – The goals are specific and answer questions like who, what, where, which, when, and why. 
    • Measurable – There should be criteria for measuring the success of a goal. 
    • Attainable – Identify the most important goals and what it takes to achieve them. 
    • Realistic – The goals and deliverables should be practical and achievable with willingness and the ability to work towards a particular goal. 
    • Timely – Every goal should have a specific timeframe within which it should be completed. 
  3. Schedule check-ins to review your progress. Keep yourself accountable by adding quarterly check-ins to assess your progress. Accomplishing short-term goals will boost your confidence. 

3 tips for setting and keeping long-term goals:

  1. Think big. Think far ahead. It’s important to think out 10+ years. Ask yourself: 1. What do I want in my career? Do I want to be a leader? Do I want to travel around the world? Do I want to buy a home? Do I have long-term health goals? It sounds like too long of a time frame, but you’re breaking down these big dreams into smaller goals that are easier to accomplish. This increases the chance that you will succeed in realizing your dreams. 
  2. Break up your long-term goals. Planning is critical to your success. Once you’ve come up with a list of long-term goals (or even one goal), sit down and put together a plan for each goal. To achieve those smaller wins, you will want to break down your plan by month or quarter or even list the steps. Always remember that life throws you curveballs, so be prepared to be flexible. 
  3. Prioritize by working backward. By defining your big-picture goals and then laying everything out in a plan, you can determine how much time you need and what you need to do to achieve them. Then prioritize which goals you need to start working on immediately. 


We can help you achieve your career goals.

Achieving goals can be complicated, but if your journey includes learning new skills, Pathstream can help you. Our mission is to help equip modern employees with highly relevant and productive skills such as data analysis, project management, etc. 

We provide top-of-the-line upskilling opportunities aligned with your personal and professional goals. Check out our programs to learn more.

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