Financial Literacy

Short Term Goals – Everything You Need to Know

Short term goals help you define what you want to achieve in the near future. These are critical for job interviews, college applications, and more.

Short term goals are critical for job interviews, college and scholarship applications, personal development, and more. Knowing what your short term goals are can set you apart from other candidates. We’ll break down everything you need to know about short term goals. 

Table of Contents:

Let’s get started. 

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What are short term goals?

A Short term goal is something you want to accomplish in the near future. This could be this month, this quarter, or in the next 6 months.  Typically any goal with a timeline greater than one year is considered a long term goal. 

Short Term Goal Examples 

Example #1: Health 

“I want to lose 5 pounds in the next 6 weeks”

Example #2: Finances 

“I want to put $500 in my savings account by the end of this quarter”

Example #3: Career

“I want to get a promotion in the next 6 months”

Example #4: Self Development 

“I want to read one book per week for the rest of the year” 

The commonality? Each goal has a short time frame, and the objective is something that could reasonably be done in that time frame. 

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How to Set Short Term Goals 

The key to setting short term goals that you’ll actually accomplish is to use the SMART acronym. SMART Objectives are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-oriented

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Checklist for Setting A Short Term Goal 

Specific: Start with the process you want to improve at first. Decide on a specific action step you can take.

  • ✔ What will you achieve?
  • ✔ What does it look like? (What do you see in your mind when you picture yourself working towards your goal?)
  • ✔ What is the action step?

Measurable: How will you know if you’ve reached your goal or not? There are different levels of “healthy” or “financially sound.” Avoid words that may have vague meanings like, “learn” or “feel” since you can’t measure them. Instead, use action verbs like “run,” “save,” or “write.” Then, turn those words into quantifiable benchmarks.

You need to be able to answer the question, “Did I get it done? If not, how much further do I have to go?”

  • ✔ How will you know when it is done?
  • ✔ What are some objective benchmarks you can hit along the way?
  • ✔ Would someone else be able to tell that it’s complete?
  • ✔ Is it quantifiable?

Attainable: My mentor BJ Fogg talks a lot about Tiny Habits — little things that start us on the path to success. The best way to achieve a goal is not to rely on motivation, but instead make it ridiculously easy for your future self to do the right thing. Instead of committing to running 5 days a week, start with one day and move up from there.

  • ✔ Are there available resources to achieve the objective?
  • ✔ Do you need a gym membership, a new bank account, new clothes?
  • ✔ Am I set up to do this even when I don’t have “motivation”?
  • ✔ Are there any time or money constraints that need to be considered? Am I being too ambitious to start out? (Remember you can always be more aggressive with your goal later on.)

Relevant: Ask yourself, in the scheme of all the things you want to try, do you really care about this? Ramit tells a story of going to his cousin’s wedding in India a few years ago, where he saw one of his friends order his food in fluent Hindi.  Pretty impressive. When he got back to NYC, he put “Hindi lessons” on his to-do list,  only to skip over it for MONTHS. The truth is, he really didn’t care enough to try and learn Hindi. It wasn’t important enough. When he acknowledged he wasn’t going to do it and crossed it off the list, it freed up time to focus on doing the things that he really wanted to do. Don’t feel guilty if something isn’t a top priority for you, just acknowledge it so you can focus on the things that are important. 

  • ✔ Why am I doing this?
  • ✔ Is this a priority for me?
  • ✔ Will it compete with other goals in my life?

Time-oriented: Give yourself a deadline to reassess your goal. And put it on the calendar! I like to re-evaluate my goals every 3-months to make sure they are still Attainable and Relevant.

  • ✔ Is there a deadline?
  • ✔ Did I put it on the calendar?
  • ✔ Will I know in 3 months if I’m on the right track?

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Putting the Short Term Goals Checklist into Action: 


  • TERRIBLE GOAL: “I want to get fit.”
  • BAD GOAL: “I want to lose 10lbs.”
  • GOOD GOAL: “I want to eat 3 healthy meals per week and go to the gym 2x/week for 15 minutes.”

Notice how we’re focusing on the process at first, and starting off conservative: Anyone can eat just 3 healthy meals in a week. And anyone can go to the gym for 15 minutes. Set yourself up to win.

The next step is to make it easy: on your calendar, set 1 hour on Sundays to buy 3 healthy meals and leave them in your fridge, packed and ready to eat. Also set two 1-hour slots for the gym (leaving time for travel).

Take Your Goals to the Next Level 

You can see how being specific, being realistic, and using systems can help you actually achieve your goals.

I put together a fee guide on how to achieve any goal you set and I want to share it with you now.

If you’re ready to stop making excuses, break out of that rut, and make a major change in your life, this free guide is for you.

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