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The Right Short-Term Goals Can Lead to Long-Term Success

The ambitious individual doesn’t wait for January 1 to go after their goals. It could be a random Tuesday in August—once they’ve identified new short-term goals or long-term goals, they’ll focus on them right away. Better yet, they’ll stay consistent in their striving. They’ll stay disciplined.

Further, the disciplined individual doesn’t have long-term goals without corresponding short-term goals. Because for those who stay consistent or are striving to become consistent, the right short-term goals can make it simpler to achieve long-term success.

Use short-term goals to achieve your long-term goals

Let’s take it to the gridiron. In a football game, teams are striving to score touchdowns. And there are multiple ways to cross the goal line. But generally, it’s rare to score on a Hail Mary from 70, 60, or even 50 yards out. Far more often, a team will drive down the field bit by bit—a 5-yard screen pass here, a 4-yard rush there—getting all the first downs they can until the first down becomes first and goal, at which point they’re close enough to the end zone to take a shot more comfortably. To take a shot that has a higher likelihood of success.

In life, achieving long-term goals is like scoring touchdowns: The best way to do it is to get all the first downs you can, or rather to set and achieve all the relevant short-term goals you can, until you’re right up against the end zone. 

It’s like the snowball method for tackling debt. Unless you win the lottery or obtain a large lump sum in some other way, paying off all your debt at once is likely a no-go. So, while paying off all your debt is the long-term goal, the best way to get there is to set and tackle relevant short-term goals. In this case, perhaps first paying off your smallest student loan, then that car note, then the credit card, then that larger student loan, and so on and so forth. By achieving these short-term goals, you do more than make consistent, steady progress toward the long-term goal—like a snowball rolling down a hill, you build momentum that keeps you charging forward almost automatically.

Long-term goals are often daunting. Short-term goals are often more digestible. And every long-term goal can be achieved through the use of relevant short-term goals. So, use them. Don’t just be ambitious. Be disciplined. Don’t only throw Hail Marys. Be ready and willing to score touchdowns the “boring” way. After all, a touchdown is a touchdown—all that matters is that you cross the goal line.

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