3 Helpful Tips for Short and Long Term Goals

Short and Long Term Goals
Benefits of SMART Goals
Short Term Goals
Long Term Goals

Organizing goals

It’s that time of year again, when everyone is planning their year. An important part of planning is figuring out what short and long term goals you want to set. In this article, I will talk about some of my goals and how i picked them. You will understand my process in picking them out. You should walk away with some ideas of how you can set goals for yourself.

Disorganized and overwhelmed

Everyone has been where I was at some point. I suffered from a bad case of burnout and needed to slow down. We all go through periods of time where we just feel overwhelmed and sometimes even out of control. Instead of thriving, we end up simply surviving. Going from one task to the next without rhyme or reason, whichever issue screamed the loudest. It had to stop.

Distractions everywhere

There are a lot of interesting activities in the world. Plenty of distractions to take you away from where you want to be. I believe in and strive for work/life balance. I was already juggling a busy schedule taking classes for my Master’s degree, spending time with my two toddlers, and helping my wife around the house. I am a fan of football and hockey, and love to play video games. It was tough to balance all of these, and I decided to start blogging on top of it all. I am a glutton for punishment I guess.

short and long term goals
short term goals
benefits of smart goals

Support from loved ones is important

Lucky for me, I have a wife who is obsessed with organization. She has been trying to teach me to be better at it for the last decade. I decided to finally listen to her. Getting organized is a tall task and like any other job, should be broken up into smaller, manageable tasks. The first task is to figure out what your goals are.

Selecting short and long term goals

There are different opinions about whether to start with short or long term goals. I believe that you should start with long term goals because that is the endgame. Short term goals are goalposts to help you get there. For professional goals, a long term goal might be to get a specific job. The short term goal might be formal or informal training in the job requirements. It is important to research what you want to accomplish, but don’t get stuck in the weeds. The first short term goal could be to conduct research and figure out how to achieve your long term goals.

Short term goals vs long term goals

What makes a good goal? Long-term goals are your 5-year plans. A good example of that would be when I graduated from university, I had a 5-year goal of attaining a job in cybersecurity (read more about my path to InfoSec part 1 and part 2). 1 to 5 years is a good time to set long-term goals. It is important to set appropriate short term goals.  Short term goals could be as short as a week or as long as a year.    Throughout the post, I will list my answers for these questions to give you examples.

Long term goals examples

  • Become a successful blogger – 5 year
  • Earn a Promotion at work – 2 years
  • Complete Master’s degree – 1 year

Choose goals that compliment each other

These are just some of my long-term goals. In 2018 I made finishing my degree a priority and now I only have 1 class left. It was the low-hanging fruit so to speak of what was important to me. One important aspect of prioritizing goals is to pick complimentary goals. Finishing my degree will help me earn a promotion at work, and having more technical knowledge helps me to be a better blogger.

More examples of long term goals

Long term goals can be anything you want to do or be. Are you a student like I was who wants to get into cybersecurity? Do you want to earn a specific target salary? Maybe you are working in a career you don’t like and want to make a switch? All three of these are perfect examples of long-term goals. If you aren’t sure how long it might take you to achieve your goals, I recommend starting with 5 years. Goals can be fluid and can change as life events happen. You might be able to break into a cybersecurity role sooner than 5 years, so go for it and don’t wait.

Setting short term goals

Once you have solid long-term goals, it is time to do a little research. You need to understand what it will take to achieve those goals For my goal of getting a job in infosec, I had to research some pathways to get there. I initially setup a 6-month short term goal to take time and figure out how other people got there and how I could emulate that.

Short term goals explained

Below you will see some of my short-term goals for the year 2018. My approach is to figure out what I wanted to achieve by the end of the year. Each end of year goal was a step towards my long term goals. I have a long-term goal of earning a promotion, so I wanted to learn some technical information. I split that up into a few categories, like learning about hacking below and learning about certifications I could attain. Depending on how long I feel the goal will take to achieve, I split them into monthly goals and seasonal goals.

Short term goals examples

  • Learn techniques to control my emotions – fall 2018
  • Be more present in the now – fall 2018
  • Study hacking – spring and summer 2018
  • Study to be a better writer – end of 2018
  • Achieve an A in two classes – end of 2018
  • Complete service restart script – End of January

My 2018 short term goals

These were the short-term goals I set for 2018. For me, getting stressed out was something I had to get a handle on. It was causing me to be short with my family, and not getting quality time with them. Professionally, I’ve accomplished a lot like achieving my CISSP, learning and writing about SQL injection and hacking a few boxes on popular sites like Hack the Box (Bashed User and Root), Shellter Labs and Pentester Lab. I got an A in both classes I took. I’ve written a lot of content for my site over the last year. If you go back and read my earliest posts, there is an improvement over time. I’d say I’ve achieved my goals for this year.

Other short term goals examples

Some other examples of short-term goals could be learning a programming language, or attaining a certification. When I achieved my CISSP I had a plan going in (you can read about my CISSP plan part 1 part 2). I started diving into the material a few months out and increased the exposure as I got closer to my exam date. Learning to script in PowerShell and Python is a great goal because of how useful they are in the field. There are plenty of great books to help learn a language, I am currently using Powershell in a Month of Lunches (This is an affiliate link read here for more details)

SMART goals

When creating goals for your year, I like to use the SMART acronym. It has been around in many forms since 1981 created by a man named George T. Doran. He wrote a paper in the November 1981 issue of Management Review called “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives”. You can find a brief history of the term written by Duncan
Haughey on his website dedicated to S.M.A.R.T. The SMART system can be used for short and long term goals.

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Attainable (sometimes Assignable)
  • R – Realistic
  • T – Time-related

Specific

Specifying your goals is simple. What is the exact task that you want to get done? Instead of saying “I want to get better at scripting” you should set your goal to be “Learn Python”. Another example is instead of using “Get better at hacking” use “Go to hack the box and complete an easy challenge”. Your goal might be exploratory, but can still be specific. Instead of “Study a path into cyber security” use “Analyze 20 local cyber security job postings”.

Measurable

I used to do all the P90X videos. Tony Horton is a great motivator. One of my favorite sayings was “If it’s not measured, it can’t improve” (which I found out is a business quote attributed to Peter Drucker). You have to figure out a way to take inventory of your goal. Just learning to script is hard to quantify, but setting your goal to know 5 commands and how to use them is better. Again, using the above example instead of learning to hack better, accomplishing one or two boxes on hack the box is much easier to measure.

Attainable

This is probably the most difficult one to determine. It can be hard to figure out how attainable a goal might be. You have to be honest about your ability to study and learn. Only you really know what you are capable of, and don’t be afraid to test your limits either. Understand there may be unexpected difficulties, hiccups in your learning process. Aiming big is great for long term goals, but try to make your short term goals more managable.

Realistic

Can you realistically accomplish the goal you set out to do in the time you choose? You might have the ability to learn a new programming language this year, but if you don’t have the time than it is unrealistic. You have to be real with yourself, and take into account possible unexpected time-constraints.

Time-related

What period of time are you allowing yourself to accomplish the goal? Remember, long term goals are about 1 to 5 years, and short term goals can be as short as daily. If your long term goal is to complete a cybersecurity book in a year, then you can divide that book up and read a chapter a month, 10 pages a week, etc.

Benefits of SMART goals

There are many benefits of smart goals. They help keep your goals complete and organized. Using this system makes it easier to create goals you will actually stick to. Using a system is important for consistency of your goals too. You want your goals to keep growing, and accomplish more over time

Have personal and professional goals

When brainstorming, it is best to organize your goals into personal and professional. Achieving personal goals help motivate you to keep going. It is very important to strike the right balance and build in relaxation into your life or you get burned out like me. Taking up a health and fitness goal, or a goal to be more social can help you balance your life. Rewarding yourself for achieving goals can help you pull through a tough time.

My goals for 2019

I accomplished a lot in 2018 but I did not finish strong. I did not complete the eLearnSecurity Penetration Tester student course. I stopped posting to this website. I wasn’t able to finish my end of year goals except to complete my class. Sometimes we have to take a step back and regroup.

By end of year

My long term goals for the year took a lot of thought. I want to become a better hacker. I’ve played around a little bit with Hack the Box and PentesterLab and I want to learn more. I want to post between 12 large articles. I’d also like to engage with the community and be more helpful. Using the SMART goal system I came up with the following:

Technical Learning

  • Plan and build new home lab – June
  • Study and Use Python to write t/s scripts (like my current set of PS scripts) – June
  • Study and pass two tests for CCNA Cyber Ops – October

Complete Master’s degree

  • Final class starts – April
  • Complete work each week on-time – April through June
  • Turn in the final paper early – June
  • Apply for graduation – June

Write 12 large articles – Once per month

  • Research topics of interest to write about each month – January
  • Develop a system for writing – January
  • Reorganize hacking journal – May
  • Finish 5 articles for Cybersecurity Roles Series – December

Organize time; Be more efficient

  • Try Asana – February
  • Try Trello – March
  • Choose one and build out schedule – April

Short and long term goals are important

Writing goals can be one of the most difficult things to do. It is important to have short and long term goals that compliment each other. There are a lot of benefits to SMART goals that make the entire process easier. If you need help figuring out your goals, feel free to contact me. I want to be a helping hand to new people in the industry.

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