Long term vs. Short term Goal Setting

by | Feb 24, 2024 | Blog

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Not big on setting New Year’s Resolutions? It’s not your fault. We’ve all set big goals for January 1st only to burn out before the month is over, overwhelmed by having gone all–out. The real problem is, many of us don’t know how to set and achieve goals properly, so we think setting goals and resolutions are the issue. Let me break down the differences between short and long term goal setting so you can ease off the gas pedal and cross off your goals in time for next New Year.


Your life is a series of decisions


Every single day, your life is a series of decisions, whether you realize it or not. From the actions you take to the things you choose not to do, it’s all a decision-making process. Often, these decisions happen without us consciously thinking about them. Goal setting is about breaking that pattern and intentionally reflecting on what you want to achieve. It’s like taking a step back to get a big-picture view of your life and asking yourself, “Where do I want to focus my efforts?”


Short Term vs. Long Term

I think the distinction between short-term and long-term goals is best summarized by Bill Gates: “We overestimate what we can accomplish in a year and underestimate what we can accomplish in 10 years.” The issue with setting goals is we often just think about what we want right now, not the bigger picture. Every year, we might try to set goals, like changing our job or completing a project and think we’ll get there in 6 months. If we’re unhappy with our circumstance, we want a quick fix. We believe that if we can get something right away, it will make us happy. And if we don’t get there in 6-12 months, we quit. But there’s a flaw in thinking like that. 

If you connect short-term goals with a bigger vision, you can take your time. Let’s say your dream is to work for yourself, have flexibility, and replace your income. You don’t have to do all that in one year. You can make smaller decisions now that set you up for success later, like staying in your job for a bit longer to pay off debts and save money. When your short-term goals match a long-term vision, you can be happy in your current situation, knowing you’re heading in the right direction.


Think of it like melting ice. Ice starts melting at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. If you put ice in a room that’s 25 degrees and slowly warm it up, nothing happens until it hits 32. People might see that point as a big change, but it’s not. The same energy that warmed up the room from 25 to 31 is what made the ice melt. Life works the same way. When you start setting goals, it’s not about one magical year—it’s about learning and adjusting every year. 


You don’t have to have it all figured out to start


First off, don’t worry if your short-term actions don’t exactly align with your long-term vision. It doesn’t mean you’re making a wrong move or missing out on opportunities. Back in 2014, I was lost when I left my job in law. I didn’t know where I was headed, but I had this vision—I wanted to work less, be my own boss, and do work that excited me. I didn’t have all the answers, but I knew I wanted a change. 


Looking back over six years, my life has completely changed. In 2014, I was mostly lost and taking care of a baby. The second year, I started building a photo booth business slowly. The third year, I launched it, learning about marketing and sales. It didn’t explode, but I turned it into a good side hustle, achieving my goal of working less. I kept learning about entrepreneurship, launched a podcast in the fourth year, and started LFAQ in the fifth year. I didn’t make a lot of money, but it set the foundation.


Now in the sixth year, my business has grown significantly. I’ve learned valuable skills in marketing, sales, brand building, and audience building. I have grown my platforms by leaps and bounds. I have like 125,000 followers on TikTok, almost 20,000 on Instagram, and my podcast has hundreds of thousands of downloads. My business will do more than six figures this year, which is a replacement of my legal income. Plus, I’m doing something that I’m passionate about and that I love so much. If we think long term, our lives can be very different in 4, 5, or 6 years time versus 1 year.


Looking ahead


Looking ahead, we don’t need everything to happen next year. My goal setting isn’t just for 2024; it’s about where I want my business to be in five years. To put it into practice, ask yourself, what’s the long-term vision for your life? It doesn’t have to be a super detailed and measurable goal; we’re thinking long-term here. If your life could be entirely different in 10 years, what does that different life look like to you? Imagine having anyone else’s life or business. Maybe it’s Beyonce’s, for instance. If performing in front of millions is your dream, dig into why you want that. What aspects appeal to you? What do you envision your life being like in that scenario? Get a clear understanding of your destination.


Don’t limit yourself or worry about what’s realistic. If you truly believe your life can be entirely different in a decade, that’s your vision. Then, work backward. What do you need to do next year to position yourself better for that vision? What can you build on each year to make progress? While we tend to overestimate what we can do in a year, you can still take intentional steps in the right direction. Sit down, reflect on your long-term vision, and break it down into short-term goals for the upcoming year. 


Step by step


Like melting ice, change happens slowly, step by step. I’ve been on a six-year journey myself, and each year’s small steps added up to big changes. So, don’t stress if everything doesn’t happen in a year. Imagine your life in 10 years, dream big, and then plan smaller steps for the next year. Like creating a map for the life you want. And if you want accountability as you take on your goals this new year, join me in the Quitter Club and let’s start making those moves toward the life you envision together.