If you want to arrive at your destination, it helps to know what that destination is before you begin to consult a road map to find your way there. This is true with goal setting as well. Defining exactly what you want is the first step to achieving it, if it is a business objective, or a personal wish. Goals can be broken down into three different categories: short-term goals, medium-term goals and long-term goals.
Definitions vary on what makes up a short-term goal, but most people feel that a short-term goal is something that will take less than one year to accomplish. Of course, they can be shorter term, such as a weekly sales or fitness goal, or longer term, such as taking a family vacation to a popular theme park in the summer. Short-term goals require minimal planning, often you only need to book time in your schedule to do what needs to be done. Short-term goals are often unwritten, and exist only in your mind.
Goals that will take longer than one year to accomplish, but less than five to 10 years, are usually considered medium-term goals. With these goals, the planning becomes more critical, as most of these goals will need to be broken down into a series of smaller, short-term goals. Often, people pay more attention to their short-term goals and tend to forget or ignore medium-term goals. It is important to review your mid-term goals frequently, so that you don't lose sight of these important objectives.
Goals with a completion date longer than 10 years into the future are generally classified as long-term goals. A long-term goal can become more fuzzy and unclear than shorter term goals, but the more specific you can make it, the more likely you are to obtain your objective. Some long-term goals become more of a vision. While visions are important, they should be kept separate from goals. A happy life in retirement may be a vision, but purchasing a lake house to enjoy summers when you retire, and to complete the purchase within 15 years with cash, is a goal.
The more specific you make your goal, the more likely you are to achieve it. You should write down all of your goals in a personal journal or record them where you can review them regularly. Hold yourself accountable for the steps to meet your goals. As you plan each of your tasks for the day or week, ask yourself how this fits into your goals, and how that action is helping you reach one or more of your goals.