Let’s define the duration of goals this way:
- Short-Term – 30 days or less
- Medium-Term – 2 to 11 months
- Long-Term – 12 months or more
We often associate goal-setting with annual goals—the type of goals typically set as a part of performance review processes. But while annual goals are important, they aren’t very effective as standalone objectives. In fact, recent evidence confirms that goal-setting should happen more frequently than once a year:
The traditional once-a-year setting of employee goals and performance review is totally out of date,” says Kris Duggan [co-founder of Silicon Valley startup firm BetterWorks]. “To really improve performance, goals need to be set more frequently, be more transparent to the rest of the company, and progress towards them measured more often.
Consider 3 ways that medium-term goals help you stay on target:
- Medium-term goals bridge short-term and long-term goals. While short-term goals form your daily and weekly nuts-and-bolts task list, you need bridge goals to steer you toward your long-term objectives. Medium-term goals fit the bill, providing a progress report at set times throughout the year.
- Medium-term goals are a natural time to make adjustments. If there’s a problem with your “big picture” plan, you’re more likely to discover it as you set and evaluate medium-term goals. Intermediate goals help you adapt to changing conditions and, if necessary, adjust the long-term objective.
- Medium-term goals focus on quarterly results. A study of big companies by consulting firm Deloitte found that: “Those which set quarterly goals are nearly four times more likely to be in the top quartile of performers.” It pays to set incremental checkpoints as you strive toward annual goals and objectives.
Quarterly and semi-annual goals can be applied in your personal, professional and organizational worlds. Whatever the area of your life, apply medium-term goals to stay on target:
- Personally – Family, self-improvement and life development goals
- Professionally – Career, work and leadership development goals
- Organizationally – Business or ministry vision, values and OGSM-driven goals
So what’s the Big Idea?
It pays to set medium-term goals, especially quarterly and semi-annual ones. They bridge short-term and long-term goals and provide incremental checkpoints to make adjustments as you strive toward annual goals and objectives.
- Goals! by Brian Tracy
- “Why 90-Day Goals Are Better Than Year-Long Ones” by Laura Vanderkam
- “A Guide to Evaluate Your Priorities and Set Goals” by Samantha Smith
- “5 Reasons Why Short-Term Goals Matter” on Serve. Grow. Lead.
- Ministry Action Plans
“The Quantified Serf” (Schumpeter), The Economist (March 7, 2015), 70.