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Short Term Goals vs. Long Term Goals: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on March 3, 2024
Short term goals are immediate objectives, while long term goals require extended time to achieve.

Key Differences

Short term goals focus on immediate tasks and are often stepping stones toward long term goals, which encompass broader aspirations with a more extended timeline. Both types of goals are essential in strategic planning but differ in their time frame and complexity.
Achieving short term goals typically involves direct actions and immediate gratification, whereas long term goals require sustained effort and long-term commitment. Both require clarity and purpose but differ in their approach and execution.
Short term goals often serve as motivators, providing quick wins and visible progress, while long term goals offer a vision and direction for future endeavors. Both types of goals are crucial for personal and professional growth but cater to different phases of the journey.
Short term goals usually demand less resource allocation and are more flexible to changes, while long term goals require strategic planning and are less adaptable to immediate alterations. Both, however, are integral in driving success and fostering development.
Short term goals allow for quick feedback and adjustment, making them more dynamic, whereas long term goals emphasize resilience and patience, focusing on the end result. Both types of goals, though different in nature, are complementary in achieving lasting success.

Comparison Chart


Accomplished in a short period (days to months)
Achieved over an extended period (years to decades)


Immediate tasks and quick results
Broad, strategic objectives with a future focus


More adaptable to change
Generally rigid and require long-term commitment

Planning Requirement

Less complex, more tactical
More complex, strategic planning required

Measurement of Success

Quick feedback, visible progress
Long-term tracking, gradual milestones

Short Term Goals and Long Term Goals Definitions

Short Term Goals

Targets that can be achieved in the near future.
Finishing a report by the end of the week is my short term goal.

Long Term Goals

Targets that are part of a broader vision or life plan.
Establishing my own business is a long term goal for financial independence.

Short Term Goals

Objectives that provide quick wins or instant gratification.
Saving money to buy a new phone next month is my short term goal.

Long Term Goals

Ambitions that require sustained effort and planning.
Buying a house in five years is my long term goal.

Short Term Goals

Goals that are actionable and straightforward.
Reading one book each month is a short term goal to enhance my knowledge.

Long Term Goals

Objectives that are achieved through patience and persistence.
Writing and publishing a novel is my long term goal.

Short Term Goals

Tasks that require minimal planning and resources.
Completing daily exercises is my short term goal for improving health.

Long Term Goals

Goals that involve strategic planning and resource allocation.
Becoming a subject matter expert in my field is a long term goal.

Short Term Goals

Immediate milestones in a larger plan.
Attending a networking event this month is a short term goal to build professional connections.

Long Term Goals

Objectives that are expected to be achieved over an extended period.
Earning a master's degree is my long term goal for career advancement.


Why are both short term and long term goals important?

Both are essential for progress; short term goals provide quick wins and motivation, while long term goals offer direction and a sense of purpose.

What are long term goals?

Long term goals are broad objectives that require an extended time to achieve, often involving strategic planning.

How specific should short term goals be?

Short term goals should be very specific and actionable to allow for immediate execution.

Do long term goals require flexibility?

While long term goals are generally more rigid, allowing some flexibility can help adapt to changing circumstances.

How do short term and long term goals differ?

Short term goals focus on immediate tasks, while long term goals involve broader aspirations and a longer timeline.

How do I know if my short term goals are effective?

Effective short term goals lead to immediate progress and often contribute to the achievement of long term goals.

What are short term goals?

Short term goals are immediate objectives that can be achieved in a relatively short time frame.

Can short term goals help in achieving long term goals?

Yes, short term goals often act as stepping stones towards the accomplishment of long term goals.

Is it necessary to write down long term goals?

Yes, writing down long term goals helps in clarifying vision and enhancing commitment.

Can long term goals change over time?

Yes, long term goals can evolve based on personal growth, changes in circumstances, or new opportunities.

How broad should long term goals be?

Long term goals should be broad enough to provide direction but specific enough to offer clear milestones.

How often should I review my short term goals?

Short term goals should be reviewed frequently to ensure alignment with overall objectives and to make necessary adjustments.

Are long term goals always professional or career-oriented?

No, long term goals can pertain to personal development, lifestyle, education, or any area of life.

Can short term goals be too easy?

Short term goals should strike a balance between being attainable and offering a certain level of challenge to ensure progress.

How can short term goals impact motivation?

Achieving short term goals provides a sense of accomplishment and can significantly boost motivation.

Do long term goals need to be reviewed and adjusted?

Yes, periodically reviewing and adjusting long term goals is essential to stay aligned with your evolving aspirations and life situations.

How do I prioritize my long term goals?

Prioritize long term goals based on their significance, the impact they have on your life, and the resources they require.

How do short term and long term goals interact in a strategic plan?

In a strategic plan, short term goals act as milestones towards long term goals, ensuring consistent progress and alignment with the overall vision.

Should short term goals be challenging?

Short term goals should be attainable yet challenging enough to encourage growth and development.

What role does time management play in achieving short term goals?

Effective time management is crucial for achieving short term goals, as these goals often have a tighter deadline.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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