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Why You Should Set Short-Term Goals For You & Your Team

Why You Should Set Short-Term Goals For You & Your Team

The word “goals” in our culture has become essentially meaningless.

We throw that word around (squad goals anyone?) to the point where making personal or team goals has become almost as meaningless as New Year’s Resolutions (exercise much?)

But here’s why goals have lost cultural relevance…

We set goals too far in advance without the right methods of follow-through.

We need smaller, achievable goals and milestones to help us accomplish our bigger, long-term career goals.

In other words, we like the idea of accomplishments but have no idea on how to execute.

When I was just starting out in my career, I planned some impossible goals for a few quarters.

Making quarterly goals gave me something to aim for, but quite often I fell way too short.

My ambition was well-placed, but I didn’t have key initiatives or action items to help me get there.

Instead, I remember looking at the list after a few months and seeing little to no headway.

I didn’t set up any short-term goals to help me achieve my long-term ones.

The Same Thing Could Happen with Your Team

If you’re a manager or a team lead, this could be frustrating.

You could be expecting your team to accomplish long-term goals without a path forward or any short-term goals to get there.

If that’s your expectation, your team won’t come together or will only be doing small tasks that don’t add up to anything.

In this post, you’ll see why short and long-term goals are important and how you can align your team with OKRs and strategic objectives to move your team to greater heights.

Sometimes We Don’t Think of Short-Term Goals as Actual Goals

Short term goals provide an immediate way forward, like having a flashlight in the woods.

Your end goal is to finish your hike. Your immediate, short-term goal is not to trip on that rock right in front of you.

However, those small goals could only be tasks if they don’t add up to something bigger.

And when you have a team, you want goals that emphasize maintenance but also moving forward. You want to keep your product up and running, and to answer all customer service requests.

But in the process, you should build in larger, more comprehensive goals to improve and advance your approaches.

Why Create Short-Term Goals For Your Team?

1. Focus on what’s next.

Short-term goals for your team keep them focused on the task at hand. And short-term goals provide obvious next steps.

Your team can focus without getting distracted or delaying the bigger goal.

With short-term goals, you can provide next steps and an action plan that show progress.

The Goals feature in ClickUp matches Key Results with Initiatives and tasks to help you do that. Set start dates, due dates and time estimates to keep your team focused.

2. Get immediate feedback on your work.

The worst thing is to get going on the path towards what you think is your long-term goal, only to realize you’ve been doing the wrong thing all along.

Accomplishing short-term goals with quick tasks can ensure that you’re on the right track. Your manager or team can review your work and then offer adjustments along the way.

3. Prevent procrastination.

Short-term goals prevent procrastination? How? They’re specific and focused. That way you’re making progress without being overwhelmed by the huge amount of work that a long-term goal may require.

4. Clarify your skills.

Short term goals add to your skills gradually.

If you want to be a software developer, you won’t get there overnight.

Plus, you may not even know if you’re good at it. With short-term goals, you can set small tasks to help you discover and clarify your skills.

Learn HTML, then add CSS and keep going to Python or React as a developer.

Doing all of that at once is impossible. Short-term goals will reveal to you what you’re good at and what you’re passionate and obsessive about.

5. Suited for emergencies and disruptions.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but part of Rome was built every day.

Short-term goals help you and your team manage disruptions, change of direction and more.

For instance, if I’m working on a 10-step email marketing campaign and my designer quits, I’ve got a decision to make.

Should I be satisfied with what I was able to accomplish or drag out the process? If my goal was to release a 10-step email marketing campaign, then I failed.

But if part of my long-term goal was to contribute to the overall number of leads, then I succeeded. It just didn’t turn out the way I anticipated. And I will need to re-imagine and re-start another email campaign to make my long-term objective.

There will always be disruptions at work, and short-term goals can help your team make progress no matter the circumstances.

6. Plan for immediacy.

Quick economics lesson…

People prefer smaller short-term rewards over greater, long-term ones.

For example, if you can get $100 today or $250 a month from now, most people will choose the $100. It’s better motivation.

This is called “hyperbolic discounting.”  People aren’t as interested in delayed gratification or to make that time investment.

Which is why it’s harder for us to create and sustain long-term goals without any intermediate, short-term ones.

OKRs set up to be short-term goals will actually motivate your team more.

We know this concept. It’s why we give ourselves a piece of candy as a mini reward for completing tasks (or maybe I only do that?)

Famed economics professor Dan Arielly says that we can’t follow up on long-term goals because of a lack of self-control and commitment. That’s true and it’s impossible to work against, especially in most teams.

Think of ways to use that to your advantage, such as creating smaller, short-term goals.

7. Build confidence

Your team won’t accomplish their long-term goals, especially if they don’t think they can.

So how do you build that confidence?

With smaller achievements, like with short-term goals.

Once your team starts getting even small wins, it’ll boost their confidence to tackle the next harder one. The momentum will be rolling and they’ll be more prepared than if they tried to do the huge, long-term goal from the outset.

A lot of software teams create this feeling with Sprints. Sprints are smaller feature releases that accomplish short-term goals. These small wins add up to even larger products and releases.

Lots of teams use Sprints in ClickUp to manage their releases–here’s more info on agile development to get that done.

8. Create Tactical Short-Term Goals

Tactical, short-term goals are important because they are measurable. Bite-sized and measurable. There is no debate whether it was accomplished or not, because the results and proactive steps are clear. You define what needs to be done, by who and in what order.


How Can You Create Short-Term Goals That Help Your Long-Term Goals?

If you have OKRs in ClickUp, then you can create Projects, then Lists, and then tasks to help you reach your Key Results.

In ClickUp, you also have room to list initiatives which then can be matched with the right tasks.

By implementing short-term goals into your project plans, Sprints and work, you can measure how those short-term goals are paying off with your strategic objective. You can see the real results.

Without them, you’re flailing.

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