Use Short, Medium, and Long Term Goals to accomplish the best life has to offer! There is a LOT of material online for goals and accomplishing your dreams. Ever wonder how to get started? This post takes a no-nonsense approach to get off the ground and started on the right foot.
Before long, you’ll be adding completed goals to the trophy list, celebrating victory, and quickly adding new exciting goals to your list!
USE SHORT, MEDIUM, AND LONG TERM GOALS TO TAKE THE HILL!
I hope this post helps create a few ideas on how you can get after your goals, make progress, and stay sane. This thinking process is loosely based on Agile framework and project management which I interact with professionally. I have modified it here for my family financial matters, and I hope it serves you well!
Goals are an effective tool to use to accomplish any range of activities. When done well, they also keep us honest, and they keep our overall efforts aligned with what we desire.
It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the enormity of some goals, the sheer effort, cost, or investment often forces us to the side-line. Ever been there? I know I have. Taking a step back, Longer-term goals are more easily processed by breaking them down into smaller goals.
Just as an example for this post, let’s use the following timelines and definitions:
- Short-Term: ~ 0 – 6 months (Getting Started)
- Medium-Term: ~ 3 – 12 months (Progress Underway, Use the Kitchen)
- Long-Term: ~ 12+ months (Final Completion, Landing the Catch)
But, before you embark on a journey of epic proportions, take a few minutes upfront to figure out what you want to do.
Getting Started with Short, Medium, and Long Term Goals.
So, what do you want to accomplish? For some of us, this may not be as easily articulated as we would think. Perhaps it is a swelling emotion of something desired in title only, but not precisely defined? For example, let’s say the goal is to be debt-free.
This is where you let it all out. As an example, think about what you want to accomplish at a high level over the next year. Make it the “big idea.” Then, write down all the details or key words down that relate. Don’t worry too much about the organization, just write…
Ready, Set, GO!
You are on your way. With the freshly written list in hand, start to organize your thoughts into buckets, list, or order. This will vary a little depending on what you’re after. The key is to order the brainstorming by some basic logical sequence to get a feel for the size and commitment.
Use the Kitchen!
Now that you know what you want to do, it is time to organize those key-word steps listed previously.
Based on one of my favorite Agile frameworks, I like the metaphor of the kitchen to organize tasks and get to the “win” of accomplishing my financial goals (I also use this process to constantly evaluate progress and “trim the fat” off the goal). That methodology has worked for me, and I’m happy to share it with you!
By constantly evaluating and organizing smaller goals in the light of the larger goals I find myself in control (relatively speaking of course), and increasingly more committed. I find this step more important the longer the timeline.
A. Build the Grocery List.
Starting with your list of keywords that support your long-term goal you start to form a list of how the sequence should unfold. This is your active list of keywords (short at sweet) that support what you want to do. You can edit this list at any time, but keep it relevant to the goal. As you cycle through the course of this process you’ll be back to this list many times, tweaking, editing, adding, and removing as you go.
B. Identify the most important items and start there (Front Burner)!
With this step, assign a level of urgency and priority. Those of utmost importance are placed on the “front burner” and these items are what primarily is focused on. Just like in some of the cooking shows my wife and I like to watch, keep an eye on those front-burner items!
Continuing with the example, the front burner item might be “budget” where you focus on implementing and maintaining a proper budget as the key to other steps on the goal to being debt-free. You might also add Life Insurance as well.
C. Prepare the Next Batch of Items (Back Burner).
You’ll also need to make time to setup and prepare the next batch of items. Think of these as simmering. You’re keeping them in scope, but they’re not the most-important. As the front-burner items are completed you’ll have the back-burner items ready to pull forward. Here you could readily place Emergency Fund, and Credit Card Debt.
D. Keep that Fridge Stocked and Fill the Freezer with Overflow.
Fridge items are those that fall below the “back burner” but still need to be worked on at some point. Keep a full fridge, but also make sure these items are applicable and have enough substance to them such that you could quickly get a back burner fired-up.
Let’s say as you work the front and back burner’s you realize the company you work for has a matching 401(k)! Now, that item might have originally been a freezer item, or it could have been in the “fridge.” It could make sense to move the Retirement item up to the back-burner to begin the process of setting up the paperwork and enrolling.
For the items that are really just ideas at this point, or for items that have nothing real substance, or for those that simply aren’t as important, the freezer is always there. Got a great idea or short term goal that just doesn’t align with the main goal? Put it on ice.
Vacation could be something that just doesn’t align with your immediate sense of urgency to become debt free. Let’s say you’re so committed and fired-up with the recent successes of your budget! From there you could elect to move-up the goal of getting rid of credit card debt and decide to throw the vacation in the freezer (for now).
E. Enhance, Reevaluate, and Repeat.
As you work through this process, stay focused what you are trying to accomplish. You may find that some front-burner items aren’t as important after-all. In that case, push them off to the back-burner. Or, you may realize that a fridge item is now critical. In that case, move it to the stove front and get after it.
Regardless, keep moving forward. With this mindset you’ll find that hurdles or short-comings aren’t the end of the world. Adapt, move it to the burner, fridge, or freezer, and overcome. Additionally, keep in mind that as you move through this exercise the cost may far exceed the benefit. Don’t be afraid to take time to re-evaluate. But, if you do, treat that as a front-burner item and set a window of time (otherwise, you’ll be waiting on yourself forever!).
Landing the Catch!
As you keep accomplishing your short and medium goals your long term goals will soon follow. Remember, each long term or “large” goal can be broken down into progressively smaller chunks of effort or investment. After working through your process and accomplish your long term goals make sure you take a moment to celebrate the wins!
Also, take time to reflect on what went well and what needs to be improved upon for next time. Continue to develop this tool so you can be more efficient next time: keep building Mêtis in your Money Matters by upping your “Goal Game.”
By the end of this, you will have a dynamic, fluid process to handle realistic goals and accommodate the challenges that life throws at you. You’ll also be able to maintain a degree of control in directing finances instead of a good ol’ “Hail Mary” in an effort to get that touch-down. Best of luck to you, my friend!
Here are a few more posts that might interest you:
- Get your Budget Started with Mint.com
- Fundamentals of Family Finance
- Budgeting Bonus Money
- Ways to Spend $1,000
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