By now, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of short term goals and long term goals, but what about intermediate goals? Yes, they are a thing. In a nutshell, intermediate goals are a bit like the missing pieces of a puzzle. They’re the goals you never knew you needed. Intermediate goals are smaller goals along the way to the long term goals.
Generally speaking, short term goals are those that can typically be achieved within less than a year. Long term goals are those that can typically be achieved five or more years from now. Then cue intermediate goals, which fit right in between the two and are often achievable between that one to five-year period.
They bridge the gap between the starting point and the finishing point.
What are intermediate goals?
If you’re a regular on my blog (which by now I hope you are), then you’ve probably heard me going on and on about the importance of goals! Especially when it comes to finances. Without clear intermediate financial goals, your chances of early retirement or vacationing as you wish are pretty slim.
That’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s true. If you fail to set decent medium term goals, then you’re kinda screwed. Financially that is.
So how can I avoid this, Leif? Great question, here’s how.
Why you should set intermediate goals
Before you can even start setting your intermediate goals, you need to have a clear picture of your short term and long term goals. This’ll allow you to figure out the steps to take in between, i.e. your medium term goals.
The great thing is, you can set intermediate financial goals, intermediate spiritual goals, intermediate fitness goals, etc. You get the picture. Just as you set short and long term goals for all other aspects of your life, they should go hand in hand with intermediate goals.
For the purpose of this blog post, I’m going to focus on intermediate financial goals because that’s what I’m good at!
Medium term goals are pretty useful for:
1 – Keeping you on track
Somewhere along the line, you might lose sight of your end goal. So, medium term goals are great way to prevent that from happening. They are the (not-so) little activities that will keep you occupied and busy along the way while you work to achieve your long term goals.
2 – Corrective action or steps
Imagine if you could jump straight to your long term goals. Wishful thinking, isn’t it. So, on the road to attaining financial independence, for example, you’ll be faced with various situations that might prevent you from getting there. But with the right medium term goals in place, you can “re-route” and implement new ones that will get you to your destination.
3 – Keeping you motivated
The thought of a far-sighted achievement can be a bit out of reach and it might seem like it’ll take forever to get there. Your intermediate goals can keep you motivated and eager to get to the final destination as you celebrate little wins along the way.
How to set intermediate goals
Whether you’re setting short term, medium term or long term goals, they need to be SMART. And by that, I mean:
They need to be very clearly stated, so that you know what you’re working towards. For example, instead of saying you want to be a millionaire, a more specific goal would be wanting to make your first million.
You need to be able to measure or quantify things. This is especially true when it comes to finances. You must be able to track progress on your financial goals by accurately comparing where you are versus where you were.
It’s one thing to have goals, but you need to know that you are capable of auctioning the steps that are necessary to achieve them. This is one your goals can’t be the same as somebody else’s because you might not be able to do some of the things that they can.
It’s all good and well to aim high and set out some pretty awesome and massive goals… as long as they are realistic. If you have aspirations of becoming a multi-millionaire in the next 6 months but you’re still drowning in debt, let’s be honest, that’s probably not going to happen. That is definitely not realistic. Try something else.
We could all probably achieve some of our major financial goals if we had a whole lifetime to do so. But that would be ridiculous. How are you going to enjoy your first million when you’re approaching 90??! So, you need to have deadlines for each of your goals, i.e. making your first million by the time you turn 30. Now that makes a lot more sense.
I’ve developed a pretty quick and easy way to set my intermediate goals. Here’s how:
I start by setting my long term goals. I also come up with the reasoning behind it, the “why” as many people put it.
I then take the long term goals and break them up into smaller, bite-size junks to paint a clearer picture for myself. Also, this makes them more manageable. These then become the medium term goals.
Next step. I clarify what needs to be done in order to reach the medium term goals and put in the work!
Oh, and another thing, it’s always great to keep tracking your progress frequently. Otherwise, you may just find that 10 months down the line you’re completely off track and you’re headed towards Brazil instead of Australia!!
Examples of intermediate goals
One thing’s for sure, my intermediate goals will never be the same as yours. We’re in different situations with different goals, and we have different resources at our disposal. Below are just a few examples of common medium term goals that people set (or at least that they SHOULD set).
1 – Never stop learning
The quickest way to stunt your growth and potential is by thinking that you know it all. I may have retired early, but that doesn’t mean I just rest on my laurels all day now, on the contrary! Now more than ever, I have time to dedicate to feeding my curious mind and trying out new things.
The world is constantly changing, so if you think you’ve got it all figured out already, boy do you have another thing coming.
If your long term goal is to retire early and spend time with your family, news flash, you should be learning about financial security and exploring investment options that may be quite lucrative.
Personally, I don’t believe in get-rich-quick-schemes, so I know that if you’re pursuing early retirement, it’ll take a few years of smart thinking and weighing up your options.
2 – Get a promotion and salary increase
If you’re a corporate fanatic that’s eyeing that corner office, then you obviously have to climb up the corporate ladder to eventually get there. But what does that entail? Working your way up the ranks and getting the perks that come with it, right?
One of your long term goals might be to become the CEO or be put into some sort of managerial or senior position. Naturally, your intermediate goals would then be to move up the ranks. That might mean sleepless nights and endless coffee or energy drinks to prove yourself to your bosses. Yikes! Brace yourself.
I, for one, have never really pursued such. I had other ideas in mind.
This is another reason why I believe in clarifying your why when you set your long term goals, so that you don’t lose momentum while ticking off your medium term goals.
3 – Establish other streams of income
Depending on how you look at it, this can be fun!
It’s a bit like trying to solve a puzzle and figure out what works and what doesn’t. Except in this case, you might lose some money along the way… but hey, that’s the thrilling part about it all! There are endless income streams that you can look into. The digital age has actually increased the options that we have at our disposal.
And by the way, not every income stream has to make you millions. You could even group your income streams and allocate them to different expenses. For example, if you’re making a decent amount from your blogging, you could allocate that income to household expenses. If you have rental income, that could go towards your kids’ school fees, etc.
Regardless of what your long term financial goals are, this is a pretty good intermediate goal to have. If you get this right, you’ll definitely be well on your way to financial freedom, YAY!
4 – Get rid of debt
This is a medium term goal that a lot of people have. For some, certain circumstances forced them to incur debt. Things like funding your education or your kids’ education is a pretty common one. A car or home are also pretty standard reasons why some incur debt. But these can be paid off!
If you’re working to pay off credit card debt, well that was probably just poor decision-making on your part.
By crunching the numbers and cutting out unnecessary expenditure, you could achieve this particular goal. Sometimes, all it takes is living frugally for a few months for you to be debt-free! Often, getting rid of debt requires a change in your lifestyle or additional income.
5 – Buy property
Depending on where you are in life, you could be looking to buy your first home, first rental property, or expand your portfolio. Either way, this is a pretty good intermediate goal to have.
A lot of thought goes into buying property. You can’t just buy the first attractive one that comes your way, goodness NO! Once you’ve decided on the purpose of the property that you want to buy, then you can start acting towards securing it.
For example, if you’re looking for your dream home, then it should ideally be located in an area that you actually like. Otherwise, you’ll probably be miserable for the rest of your life! On the other hand, if you’re looking to buy rental property, there are other more important things to think about.
Rental property needs to be in a place where there’s actually a demand for it. Cities and busy areas with job opportunities are great! People are always looking to be closer to their workplace, which increases your chances of actually being able to secure a tenant.
At the same time, you should look to settle on property that makes financial sense. The property value, interest rates and whether or not it’s in a prime location are some important factors to keep in mind.
6 – Save up for your children’s education
Quality education these days can surely cost you an arm and a leg, trust me, I would know. So, if you have dreams of your children furthering their studies and obtaining degrees or doctorates, then this one is for you.
The last thing you want is to find yourself in a situation where you’re not able to pay for your children’s education, so it’s important to plan accordingly. If you know that they have aspirations of going to university, and you yourself want to see them graduate, then this intermediate goal should be a no-brainer. So get to it!
7 – Diversify your investments
This may be one of your intermediate goals if your long term goal is to retire early. That was the case with me. If you have aspirations of being crazy rich, I’m talking Bill Gates money, you’re probably not going to get there by slaving away behind your laptop every day. Sorry to break it to you, but that’s just how it is.
The richest people in the world don’t depend on a salary, and that’s why they are where they are today.
Once you open yourself up to various ways of making money – and stop putting all your eggs in one basket – things could really change for the better. When it comes to diversifying investment, I don’t believe in just following the crowd and doing what everybody else is doing. That can be incredibly risky.
Instead, I like to do my own research and checks in order to get a better understanding of the craze. Just imagine blindly following the crowd and then finding yourself involved in some crazy pyramid scheme!
Now, back to Bill Gates.
If we take a look at his portfolio, he’s got his hand in technology, property, farmland, waste management, manufacturing, the list goes on! Now that’s a pretty good example of what it means to diversify your investments.
8 – Be your own boss or start a business
This is an intermediate goal that a lot of people have. Either because they work for a horrid boss, have a lousy salary, or both! That’s the worst position to find yourself in.
But of course, there are other reasons why you might want to be your own boss and start a business. Often, it has a lot to do with personal goals and aspirations, and to gain better control over your time and life in general.
If that’s the case, then creating a business plan, getting your finances in check, and doing the necessary market research should be top of mind for you. For a lot of people, starting a business is their intermediate goal towards early retirement, a certain level of wealth, or financial freedom.
Starting a business can be lucrative if you know what you’re doing and have a clear understanding of how to serve your customers or clients.
9 – Saving towards a family trip
This is as much a financial goal as it is a family or lifestyle goal. As people, we tend to get so caught up in the rate race or pursuing financial freedom that we forget about the things that really matter. Taking a step back to focus on your loved ones is a great goal to have. If you’re looking to create a strong bond with your family in the long term, then listen up!
Firstly, family holidays are great. Everyone gets a chance to explore and just exist outside of their normal surroundings, which can be extremely eye-opening. You might even find that you and your son actually have a lot more in common than you thought!
Of course, if you want it to be a truly memorable and fun experience for everyone, you need to have enough money for it. This is also a really great way to relax, unwind and recharge so you can return to smash some of your other goals right out of the park!
10 – Learn a new skill
On a lighter note, let’s say you have aspirations of being the next big superstar. An icon that goes down in all the history books. Think Elvis Presley, Madonna, Elton John or Celine Dion. But before you get there, you need to be able to sing and dance… but right now, you can’t.
That’s where this intermediate goal comes in.
Before you can reach superstardom, you’d need to go for endless vocal and dance lessons. And then dedicate the next few years to rehearsals and mastering your craft.
When you learn a new skill, it opens you up to other income-generating avenues that you might not have been aware of. It’s also a really great way to bring some spark into your life and avoid routine and an excruciatingly boring life!
Intermediate goals in a nutshell
In order to get from A to B, you need to have clear intermediate goals in place. This is especially true when it comes to finances, which is where a lot of people need more discipline. The quickest way to lose direction is by setting long term goals without any intermediate goals; you risk ending up at a completely different destination.