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The Importance of SHORT-TERM Goals in Life

Importance of Short Term Goals
Written by Derek Howes

In going through my daily routine lately, I’ve realized just how important short-term goals are to ultimately reaching our long-term goals. We have short-term goals for everything, even if we don’t actually know we have short-term goals…so why not allow yourself to feel that much more accomplished?

In my opinion, I believe everyone should write down their goals. For at least the past decade I’ve gone through notebooks of goals both short-term and long-term. Having the goals on paper, at least for me, makes them “real”.

Say my long-term goals are to lose 30 pounds, run a 6:00 mile, and squat 405×12. If these are my only goals, I’m going to be waiting a long time for any reward. I’m sure there are some people out there who only have long-term goals and do fine with them…but for most of us we need some gas in our tank every now and then. Could you listen to the same song on repeat without eventually getting bored? No, probably not, it’s nice to have a selection.

Now with these long-term goals above, we can make lists of short-term goals such as:

  • Cutting out certain foods for that day/week
  • Carbohydrate cycling
  • Calorie restriction
  • Doing a specific amount of cardio for that day/week
  • Burning a certain number of calories for that day/week
  • Rep goals on squat (405×1, 405×2)
  • Running at a certain pace (a fast .25 time) and then targeting to beat that .25 time and work your way up from there

Obviously there are thousands of other short-term goals you can have to reach any long-term goals, these are just a few examples. Goals like these are just going to bring out that inner motivation when you most need it and drive you to reaching your long-term goal(s).

Lets think outside the box a little bit now. If something else in your life goes wrong, you’re most likely knocked off routine a bit, right? What we now have here is the bigger picture. Daily short-term goals should not just be within our diet/workout but our life in general.

When you start anything new whether it be photography, hiking, juggling, creating a look-a-like Captain Planet costume, etc you’re not going to know how to perfect it right off the bat (unless you’re some crazy prodigy). Since I tend to ramble on, I’ll get to my point. The point here is that whether you know it or not you’re going to have short-term goals. These short-term goals could be things such as learning about part of the camera, understanding a compass, juggling two balls at a time, or figuring out the exact colors of the Captain Planet costume. Goals make you feel accomplished and drive you to be that much better so why not get that free motivation? You’re accomplishing them anyways!

Not only do we subtly create short-term goals without realizing it like the ones above but we also do in our daily routine. Taking our vitamins, brushing our teeth, packing a lunch, remembering certain things, reading the paper, and so on. When your routine is on point, you feel good. You’ve created discipline and discipline was created through the goals you’ve set to reach in your daily routine.

My BIGGEST short-term goal is that when I have an off day where I mess something up or go off routine I remember that once I wake up to a new day, it’s a day to start fresh and go back on routine rather than dwell on the past. This is the most important goal in my whole routine.

The point of this whole post is that, IN MY OPINION:

  • Short-term goals create motivation. The motivation to reach your goals creates discipline and routine. Discipline makes you feel accomplished.
  • Short-term goals should not just be limited to your diet/workout but your whole life
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About the author

Derek Howes

Derek Howes is a personal trainer and chef with over a decade of experience in the gym and kitchen. Derek, who is also known as The Protein Chef on his blog and YouTube channel shows his viewers every week that food doesn’t need to be boring or repetitive, it’s all about balance, moderation, and having the knowledge to change things up. His recipes which have been featured in the news, magazines, and on TV are cheap, quick, AND delicious! His motto in life is “everything in moderation” and is without question the most important habit he follows.

4 Comments

  • Derek,

    You’ve hit a topic that tends to send people just getting started into fitness fatigue. Creating attainable goals applies to every level of a persons life. The problem is that it’s one more piece of work that most of the population avoids, like a three year old to a toothbrush. I think that this is due to a few large reasons.

    First, this is an exercise in reality. Creating short-term goals forces people to examine where they really are when they compare themselves to their real dreams. The saying of “the first step is the hardest” kind of explains the point I am trying to make here

    Additionally, creating short term goals forces that long term idea out of being a dream and into being a real goal. I’ll share a quick point. I saw a documentary the other day about a over weight woman who had hired a Fitness Coach in order to avoid further medical issues (as is typical in these instance, she had a laundry list of issues all stemming from her 30 year habits). During one of the fitness sessions, the trainer/coach had her jog as on a track as far as she could. Sadly she (like most Americans) couldn’t make it very far. He yelled encouragement from the side “Hey when I get done with you your going to be able to make it all the way around the track without stopping!” Her response was “I’m too fat. I’m never going to make it all the way around.” Her dream of becoming fit wasn’t real to her because she hadn’t created those short term goals. Compounding the problem is that most people don’t want to have their dream be a goal, because when something challenges your dream its easier to just give that up or hold on to just a sliver of hope. an example of this is that I always wanted to become a special forces astronaut. At a certain age nobody could convince me they didn’t exist. I got so vivid about my dream that I had all my friend convinced they could be on my missions. But there is no reality in that dream nor any more reality any anyone else dreams regardless of the existence of them or not, unless they have short goals to get there.

    Finally, short term goals are part of possibly the most dreaded exercise, the brain exercise. It’s so much easier to get your swoll on at the gym, do some jazzy cross-cardio, or sweat to your favorite cool jams while hell-toeing it around a few blocks and get no closer to that long term deal you made to yourself, than it is to actually turn the TV off and figure out how to get there. Most people are just happy to get to the gym most of the time (and to be honest I’m proud of what some people accomplish in their days) and exercising one more piece of themselves just seems daunting. Weekends? No, no, no, good sir. Weekends are not for the brain to be switched on, weekends are for beer and football, my good man. All kidding aside (I really wasn’t kidding about being proud of what some people accomplish) there was some recent research about reading that was published. If we use this as an example of use of in vogue brain excersise is that research stated that less that 40% of all library members checked out a book (this included ebooks). The overall stats on reading for adults isn’t very good either till you get to the group of folks in the late 50’s – death. Reading has become a dying art form for most Americans and writing down some short term goals is an awful lot like reading in its use of the brain.

    I realize this is a bit longer winded than most posts on here but I think this it stands to be pointed out that every major accomplishment man kind has undertaken has required first a dream, then a goal to obtain be set, and finally short-term goals to accomplish in order to get there. How do you eat an elephant?

    Keep the articles coming you’re on the right track here.

    • Hi Erik! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate such a thorough comment. I completely agree with you. People need to learn that you must progress in all areas of life and in order to do so you must break those “bad brain” habits! Dreams are more than dreams, they can become reality. Those who are so quick to give up on their dreams are usually the same ones who criticize those who don’t (jealousy). Such a terrible cycle. If only there was an easier way to replace those bad habits…

  • This is just what I needed today. I saw the temple and but not the stairs leading to the temple. Every step is a victory… A really big victory! I have to cherish these! Whenever I get discouraged I can look back at how far I’ve come… Sometimes the “temple” is further or steeper away for some people, but I just had this memory of climbing a mountain and getting to the top in Colorado and sometimes its better when you’ve come from so far and so low.

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