Achieve Long-Term Objectives by Setting Quality Short-Term Goals
I firmly believe that, in order to achieve long-term objectives, companies have to set a series of short-term achievable and tangible goals that align with the long-term vision. Picture a long road trip, let's say New York to Napa Valley. The long-term objective is to get to Napa. It is a 2,096-mile trip that Google Maps estimates will take 31 hours. Now, it is possible to just aim for California and go. You might make it to Napa but you also might end up side-tracked at the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, or some other natural wonder along the way. More realistically, you will set a series of short-term goals to get there. You could set a goal to travel 350 miles per day. It is tangible. It is achievable. Theoretically, it aligns with your long-term goal. However, 350 miles doesn’t assure you are traveling in the right direction. You could travel to Cleveland, OH or drive to Grand Rapids, MI and back. You will have achieved your goal but be no closer to achieving your long-term objective.
Short term goals need to be specific enough that there is no “out.” There is no loophole. The only way to achieve the short-term goal is to move towards the long-term objective. In our road trip example, the first short-term goal could be to reach Des Moines, IA on the first day. It is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based but more importantly it undeniably moves you closer to Napa Valley.
When setting short-term goals, it is important that they are inextricably aligned with your long-term objectives. Failure to do so may result in enjoying Cincinnati chili instead of California chardonnay.