When we think about our long-term goals, such as retirement or paying off a mortgage, it is easy to get overwhelmed because they are so far away. On a day-to-day basis, it may seem like we are not making progress at all. For example, one of my long-term goals is to save enough money to retire. But, unfortunately, I cannot just put a few million dollars into my investment portfolios and be done.
However, I can achieve short and medium-term goals in the meantime. Since graduating from college, I have been aggressively saving and investing a significant portion of my income every month to save $100k by 24. My short-term goal of saving a majority of my income every month helps me work towards my medium-term goal of saving $100k, which benefits my long-term goal of saving for retirement.
While defining short and long-term goals is relatively straightforward, mid-term goals can fall into a gray area. In this article, we will take a closer look at mid-term goals in particular, including their value and how to set them.
- Goals are things that you want to achieve. When setting your goals, make sure to set SMART goals, which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely goals.
- Goals typically get defined by the length of time it takes to accomplish them.
- Examples of various goals you can set are career goals, family goals, financial goals, health and fitness goals, and life goals.
At a high level, a goal is an objective or outcome that you want to accomplish. That could be anything from training for a marathon to increasing your income to eating healthier. As you start thinking about your goals, ask yourself what type of life you envision for yourself. What do you want your life to look like a year from now? Five years from now? Ten years?
Once you start asking these types of questions, you may want to focus on specific aspects of your life, such as your social circle, family life, physical and mental health, financial circumstances, and personal and career development. Depending on what your priorities are, your goals should relate to your ideal future.
For example, giving back to society is extremely important to me. So, in my ideal future, I want to contribute to society in a more meaningful way and add tangible value to my community. While I am still not sure what that fully entails, as I work towards my financial and career development goals, I always keep this in mind in the back of my head.
With goal setting, it is a process that takes time and effort. That is why we recommend writing down your objectives on paper and using SMART goals to define the specifics of your goals. SMART goals are goals that are:
If our goals are vague and unrealistic, there is no way to track our progress or define what success means. By defining exactly what your goals are, it is easier to stay motivated and see your progress.
Types of Goals
When discussing goals, we typically define them based on the length of time it takes to accomplish them. Short-term goals are goals that take less than a year to accomplish. Medium-term goals may take anywhere from one to five years, while long-term goals may take years or decades to complete.
The issue with long-term goals is that they are not tangible and hard to visualize today. One way to envision them is to break them up into smaller goals. A collection of short-term goals can form a mid-term goal, while a few medium-term goals can get combined to achieve a long-term goal.
Short-term goals are actionable and typically can get accomplished immediately. In my day-to-day, some of my short-term goals outside of work are strength training, running, checking my stocks, and working on this blog. All these tie back to my long-term goals, such as qualifying for the Boston Marathon and saving for retirement.
The benefit of setting short-term goals is that you do not need to wait to take action. You are in complete control of your situation. If I want to run, I do not need to wait on anything – I will just do it.
Medium-term goals usually take a few years to accomplish, making it harder to pay attention to them. Examples include graduating from college, paying off a car loan, or saving for a home downpayment.
To make it easier for yourself, make sure to track the progress of your goals every few months and align them with your long-term goals. The value of having mid-term goals is that they help us evaluate our progress and whether they make sense in our ideal future. Every time you accomplish a medium-term goal, you should be moving closer to your long-term goals and celebrating the milestone.
Long-term goals typically take 10+ years to accomplish and are hard to measure on a year-to-year basis. For example, if you are saving for retirement or paying off massive student loans, you may feel like you are nowhere closer to your goal when looking at things from a monthly or yearly timeframe.
However, the good thing about long-term goals is that they are usually moving goals, which allows you to make adjustments as needed. For example, back in high school, my dream job was to work at Google or IDEO. But, now that I have graduated from college, I have realized that I prefer working at early-stage startups.
Give Your Life a New Direction With Mid-Term Goals
When framing the different goals you have, act on your short-term goals, keep your eyes on your long-term goals, and use your mid-term goals to bridge the gaps. While long-term goals are things that will help give purpose and meaning to your life, mid-term goals allow you to break up these long-term goals into more digestible components to handle.
For example, if you want to start your own business, that can take years of preparation. You have to save enough money to fund your business, develop a strong intuition for your industry, learn how to be a good leader, understand the risks you are taking, etc. These are important changes to your life that require planning, persistence, and hard work.
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” — Jim Rohn
Mid-Term Goal Examples
Everyone will have different goals depending on what they value and hope to accomplish. While this is not an exhaustive list, we will go over common goals people set and how to set your own.
Setting career goals allow you to keep growing and challenging yourself to propel your career forward. Depending on your professional goals and aspirations, there are a variety of objectives and targets you may want to reach.
Examples of medium-term career goals include:
- Getting a graduate degree, such as an MBA, J.D., M.D., or D.D.S.
- Switching careers or companies
- Getting a raise or promotion
- Learning a new skill, such as coding, graphic design, photography, etc.
- Strengthing your portfolio with additional projects
- Starting a side hustle or new business
- Developing multiple passive income streams
While having career goals is crucial for professional development, balancing your personal and professional life helps you stay healthy and motivated. Some medium-term family goals can include:
- Finding a partner
- Planning a wedding
- Starting a family
- Growing your family
- Keeping in touch with your family members regularly
- Saving for annual family vacations
- Teaching your children new skills
- Encouraging your family to set personal goals
While money does not guarantee happiness, having financial security allows you to have the freedom to pursue things that can make you happy or feel fulfilled. A few mid-term financial goals include:
- Paying off your student loan
- Paying off high-interest debt, such as credit card debt
- Saving for a home downpayment
- Increasing your net worth to a specific number
- Refinancing your mortgage
- Purchasing your first rental property
- Renovating your home
- Saving for your children’s college education
- Building an emergency fund
- Opening a high-yield savings account and funding it regularly
- Developing a foundation in personal finances
Health and Fitness Goals
When pursuing our career or financial goals, it becomes easy to neglect our health. But, without good health, you will not be able to enjoy the results of your hard work. Examples of mid-term health and fitness goals include:
- Lowering your cholesterol by a set amount
- Decreasing your weight by X number of pounds
- Regularly exercising at least 3-4x a week
- Training for a half marathon
- Learning how to cook healthier meals
- Eating more fruits and vegetables
- Increasing the intensity of your workouts by a certain percentage each week
- Cutting down on junk food
- Becoming a weekday vegetarian
Setting life goals give us a sense of purpose and allow us to prioritize our needs and wants. Some examples of mid-term life goals include:
- Moving to a new city or country
- Learning a new hobby, such as marathon running, coding, woodworking, etc.
- Learning how to cook
- Becoming a mentor
- Traveling solo
- Learning a new language
- Volunteering at a local non-profit
- Regularly donating to charities
Coming Up With the Right Medium-Term Goals
Now that we have given some examples of different types of medium-term goals, think about what you want your life to look like 3-5 years from now. What will enable you to live a fulfilling and meaningful life? That can be anything from traveling the world, transitioning to a new career, learning a new hobby, or moving to a new city or country.
These are all goals that will require a bit of planning and effort to accomplish. So, make sure to break up your goals into different stages and determine the timeframe you hope to achieve them by.
For example, if one of your intermediate-term goals is to purchase a rental property for passive income, you need to determine how much it will cost in your desired location and how much you need to save for a downpayment. Then, you need to figure out how you will save enough money for the downpayment, whether through investing in the stock market or cryptocurrencies, for example.
Once you purchase your first rental property, that can lead to a second property, then a third, and so on. Before you know it, you may be able to generate enough passive income for a longer-term goal, such as retirement.
Setting Goals is Not Enough
To make your goals a reality, you need to write them down and take action. If you want to get a new job, you need to research the types of positions you are interested in and figure out what you need to do to get hired. If you want to pay for your children’s college education, you need to determine exactly how much you need to save and what your monthly or yearly savings goal should be.
Once you start creating a list of your goals, have a brainstorming session to refine and iterate on your ideas. For example, some types of methods you can use are:
Mind mapping – Start with one goal or target and write it down in the center of a piece of paper or whiteboard. Then surround it with a bubble and write down anything that comes to mind that is related to your goal or target.
Brain dump – Write down all your ideas on a piece of paper or whiteboard. There are no wrong answers or stupid ideas! Whatever comes to your mind, write them all down.
List-making – Start with one goal or target and write down a list of everything you think is required to accomplish it. That can include breaking up your goal into smaller goals and setting milestones along the way.
Staircase method – Start with your ultimate goal or target. Then break it up into more manageable smaller goals or steps. The bottom or first step represents where you are now, while the top step represents your goal. Each step along the way is a milestone for achieving your end result.
Setting mid-term goals help you stay motivated and build momentum towards your long-term goals, whether that is pursuing financial independence, advancing your career path, growing a successful business, or starting a family.
Think about what matters to you in your personal life and use that to determine your long-term goals. Once you figure that out, write them down and split them into short-term goals and medium-term goals. Without proper planning and aim, it is hard to stay focused and achieve what we want.