Short and Long Term Goals

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, 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 of 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
long term 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.

Do What Works For You

When discussing my short and long term goals with my family, my wife was surprised. She said she always found it hard to think about the long term goals first. She prefers to plan tomorrow, then next week, then next month and so on. It is important to do what is best for you. If you struggle with long term goals, start with short term goals. If you end up with a good set of short and long term goals, it doesn’t matter how you arrived there.

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 complement 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 complementary goals. Finishing my degree will help me earn a promotion at work, and having more technical knowledge helps me to be a better blogger. Your short and long term goals need to flow together.

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 set up 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, high-level.
  • Research breathing methods for controlling anger around children.
  • Study blog writing techniques, high-level.
  • Study in detail one specific method for a month.
  • Complete service restart script
  • Pass the SAFe Practitioner certification

My short term goals

These were some of the short-term goals I set in the past. For me, getting stressed out was something I had to get a handle on. It was causing me to be short with my family (especially my young children), 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 this site. If you go back and read my earliest posts, there is an improvement over time. 

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*.

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

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


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”.


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.


This is probably the most difficult 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 manageable.


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.


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 short and long term goals complete and organized. Using this system makes it easier to create goals you will actually stick to. Using a system is important for the consistency of your goals too. You want your goals to keep growing, and accomplish more over time

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

Have personal and professional goals

When brainstorming, it is best to organize your goals into personal and professional. Achieving personal goals helps 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.

It Is Important To Have A Review

Part of setting goals is to pat yourself on the back when you achieve them. Having a moment of earned satisfaction with yourself makes it a rewarding experience. Will I accomplish all of my short and long term goals this year? Come back in 2020 and find out!

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 complement 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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