How to Set Effective Short-Term Goals (and Their Importance for Your Mental Health)

Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Contributed by Angeline Licerio

Angeline Licerio is a content writer for Elevate Corporate Training, a team of corporate trainers committed to improving performance of individuals and teams within organizations.

Worrying is one of the many things that can cause anxiety. And, no matter who you are or what you do in life, you’d still get worried about your finances, your family’s safety, your career or your future at some point. Especially now that there’s a pandemic, we can’t help but to get anxious and stressed because there is no guarantee that we won’t be affected by the virus. In times like these, one must proactively look after his or her mental health

So, how do you stay productive despite anxiety attacks? How can you manage your mental health amid chaos and uncertainty? How do you keep yourself sane when you feel like there’s no hope in plain sight? And how can you keep up with your obligations without sacrificing your sanity? 

Mental health experts claim that effective goal-setting and working your way to achieving it can spell a lot of difference.

What Does Effective Goal-Setting Mean?

In a nutshell, goal-setting is the act of making a goal, regardless if they are long-term or short-term. But, there’s more to goal-setting than just creating a list of things you want to achieve. Effective goal-setting means setting realistic goals that can be achieved without sacrificing your physical health, mental status, and quality of the outcome. At best, it aims that you also enjoy taking part in the goal-achieving process.

How Do You Set an Effective Goal?

The first thing that you should remember in setting achievable and effective goals is that they should be short-term. Why? Simply because you can’t control the future. There might be significant events that can sabotage your plans and force you to take a different route. With short-term goals, you are expected to comply with them within a couple of days or weeks. Since the uncertainty is lesser than finishing a task within a 5-year time frame, there are also lesser chances of significant changes that will force you to go off-course. 

You see, the journal published by the University of Delaware suggests that self-esteem grows as you make realistic and achievable expectations. When you see your goals slowly achieved one-by-one, you develop this feeling that you’re on the right track and that you can achieve even more.

So, with all that has been said, the million-dollar question now is how do you exactly make an effective short-term goal? Here’s how.

Start with a brilliant plan

According to Frank L. Smoll of the University of Washington, your goals should be achievable, believable, and committed. Obviously, you would need to have a plan in order to achieve your goals. When you draft your plan, make sure to chalk out one based on your affinities, aspirations, and strengths. It’s simple. When you do something out of interest and desire, it’s easier to complete it. You don’t have to force yourself to finish it within the time allotted. In this case, you quickly made an achievable, believable, and committed goal. 

Maximize your resources

Your short-term goal can easily have a 100% success rating if you know how to execute it properly. For example, you intend to learn how to make an infographic using Canva and Photoshop within a month. You may be new to these platforms and tools, but if you seek free online courses, video tutorials, and other resources you can get your hands on, it’s easier for you to complete your goal. 

Celebrate your victories

In a society where perfectionism and grand gestures are looked at favorably, it’s easy for people to compare themselves with one another. If you start measuring your worth and the value of your hard work using other people’s standards, nothing will ever be enough. This is precisely why you should learn how to focus on what you have while working for what you want. If your friend finally bought a new house and car while you are still working to get that promotion at work, it’s okay. 

You are as successful as them. Never think that what they achieve is more significant and more valuable than yours. Pat yourself on the back as you achieve things in your goal-list. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small; the point is you work hard to be in that state. And that is something you should be proud of. 

Be accountable 

Most of the time, it’s easy for people to do the right thing when someone’s watching over them. However, when they’re by themselves, they slack off and start committing everything to chance. Remember that you are the master of your fate. Also, remember that achieving a goal is no walk in the park. You are bound to meet challenges along the way. If you can’t get it right the first time, that’s fine. You can always hit the reset button and try again. There’s no need for you to rely on or blame others for things that could go wrong. Accept full accountability and watch yourself grow into a more empowered human being.

Short-Term Goals and Your Mental Health

Short-term goals are more realistic and more achievable given the timeframe you have to complete them. It’s good for your mental health because instead of achieving a massive task within a longer time frame, you get to divide it into chunks and make it more manageable. You worry less when the task at hand is not that overwhelming. And since it’s manageable, achieving and completing them gets easier. You also get to celebrate your victories, no matter how small they are, along the way. The more goals you complete, the more confident you are about bigger tasks. In the long-run, the positive emotions you feel while completing these small goals help you build a more positive disposition.


Now, more than ever, is the right time to work towards the realisation of your goals. You may have parked these goals in the past because you’re worried that you might not achieve them. Instead of worrying ourselves and thinking about when this crisis will end, we can turn our day-to-day life around by making small goals and executing them. If you commit to this religiously, after a month or year, you will surely be far from the person you are today. I hope that you get that courage to take baby steps towards your life goals.

I'm Allison Dunn,

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