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Setting Short-Term Goals

Having a long-term goal and a plan to get there is extremely important, not to mention exciting. It’s great to know that your desire to be CSO of a major corporation can be reached in ten years or less if you just stick to your plan. But those far-off goals can also be pretty daunting, and the fact that they’re so many years away can make sticking to the plan more difficult. That’s where short-term goals can help.

Short-term goals are anything you plan to achieve in less than a year. Most such goals should be something you can achieve three to six months from now. Naturally, short-term goals should be less ambitious and require less work than those huge life-changing goals that you’re also working towards. Short-term goals are more likely to be something like increasing your commissions by 25%. Such goals won’t have as big an impact on your situation as the long-term ones, but they are still significant — and the fact that you can attain them in less than a year is pretty motivating by itself.

When you set a goal and give yourself a time limit, you increase the odds of achieving that goal by a huge factor. Just picking a specific target for yourself helps to motivate you to put in those extra cold calls during your break, to make the time to send thank-you notes to each and every prospect, and to put the final touches on a more effective presentation. And when you see how your extra efforts move you along your time line, you get another huge morale boost.

A short-term goal can often be a stepping stone on the way to a larger goal. For example, if you want to become a CSO, some reasonable short-term goals to reach along the way might be completing courses in sales management, applying for sales management positions, and finding a career mentor who has accomplished what you want to accomplish. If your long-term goal is to become a millionaire within ten years, your short-term stepping stone might be to convince your sales manager to give you a raise and/or increase your commissions percentage. Of course, your short-term goals can also be something unrelated, like saving enough money to buy a new car within six months.

If you’re not sure what short-term goals you want to set, take a moment to sit down and write out whatever ambitions spring to mind. Be as honest as possible in your list even if you think your dreams are frivolous. There’s nothing wrong with a secret desire to take a month-long cruise up the Mediterranean or own a shiny black Porsche. Write down anything and everything you can think of, and then tuck that list away in a drawer. A day or two later, get that list out and read it over again. Decide if there are any items that you’d like to add or remove from the list. Once the list is finalized, you can use it to determine which goals are most important to you.

Some of the ambitions on your list may be achievable within a short time span, while others will require a longer effort and a more elaborate plan. In the latter case, you can still pick some milestone goals to give yourself a feeling of accomplishment within a shorter time span. Don’t try to accomplish ten goals at once because you’ll be splitting your time and energy in too many directions and won’t get anything done. Pick out two or three goals that are your highest priority and start with those. Write them down on a piece of paper and put them someplace where you’ll see them frequently, like your bathroom mirror.

Finally, write down the steps you think will help you to reach those goals. These should be measurable and achievable. For example, if your short-term goal is to increase the next quarter’s sales by 25%, your tasks might be to attend five networking events per month and send out 15 emails to new prospects every morning. If you’re aiming for a major purchase like that new car, figure out how much money you’ll need to set aside each week and decide how you’ll make room for those funds in your budget — perhaps by skipping your daily grande latte or switching to a cheaper cable TV package for a few months. Just writing these activities down will make it easier for you to stick to your short-term plan.

About the author

My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.

As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.