Motivation Articles

The Importance of Setting Medium-Term Goals

A Reward System to Reach Your Dreams!


So often we daydream and think of some far-off goal that we would like to achieve. "I want to play the guitar in a band," "I want to run a marathon", "I want to be better at my job," etc. It's not difficult at that point to break it down into short-term goals… practice some chords in the evening, run on the weekends, or arrive an hour earlier at work. You get in a groove and suddenly you're on the way to reaching that long-term goal.

However, there are so many other goals where that groove is tougher to find once you get started. You begin to feel overwhelmed as you think about the long journey ahead.

This is where medium-term goals and a reward system can really make a difference. A good medium-term goal can keep the "fire" burning. For the examples above you might set a medium-term goal to play 5 of your favorite songs very well, or to run a half marathon, or create one new idea that will help your co-workers. Some may take longer than others, but bridging the gap between short and long doesn't make the journey seem so "out there!"

You still might get bored and not feel the same enthusiasm as you did early on, and that is why it's important to have a reward system. So, if you have your long-term and short-term goals, and you've just come up with your medium-term goal, it's time to reward yourself for progress. An example: if you achieve 90% of your weekly goals, take yourself out to dinner. If you achieve the weekly goals a total of eight times, buy yourself a new toy. If you achieve a medium-term goal, buy something for your house. For achieving a long-term goal, take a trip!

I know… where is the money coming from???? You don't have to go into debt to reward yourself… but I think the little extra money you shell out to stay motivated will be worth it in the long run. You'll gain more than just playing in a band, running a marathon, or being better at your job; you'll gain all that comes with it! Your life will have become enriched along the way and your self-esteem will skyrocket because you've reached something you've always dreamt about!

Never give up… keep fighting for your dreams!

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About The Author

Joe Downie Joe Downie
Joe, an exercise enthusiast, is a certified physical fitness instructor and high school soccer coach.

Member Comments

  • A super great helpful article. Thanks! - 3/17/2015 1:06:48 PM
    Again, this is a great article! Thank you!
    WooHoo! - 3/25/2014 8:23:49 PM
  • I am trying to give myself a weekly challenge and posting on my blog. Just taking my vitamins each day and drinking at least 4 glasses of water will be a real accomplishment for me right now.

    And am moving more - just getting up and doing something for at least 5 minutes every half hour.

    Great reminder!! - 6/24/2013 10:56:20 AM
  • This is great and it put's things into perspective. - 1/26/2013 11:56:13 PM
  • Good article! Some of the rewards are not for me-like food! Really?!?!
    I agree with CUISINEEXAMINER . I too am on a small fixed income & can't reward myself with $$ rewards or going out to dinner...
    R's idea about an article on how to reward ourselves with something that has no cost or is free.
    - 1/26/2013 3:43:13 AM
  • The article is based on a good premise: that of setting goals. However, the author (whom I note has TWO jobs, not just one) seems to go off on a tangent of rewards of dinner (hey, I'm on a diet!!), buying a new "toy", or going on a vacation. I'm an unemployed overweight senior citizen on a fixed - read "small" - income, and haven't been on a vacation in almost two years, with dinner out also being an almost unimaginable treat. I have read way too many SparkPeople articles, suggestions, and blogs which promote the spending of money on rewards for good behavior, to the emotional detriment of the less wealthy group of Spark followers. A more motivating article, from my personal point of view, might have included a short list of non-monetary rewards: time spent pampering oneself, reading a book from the library, taking a walk, etc. A truly great article, if it mentioned rewards, would include a list such as "100 No-Cost Rewards For Goals Reached". - 10/24/2012 11:37:03 AM
  • I taught my kids to do this in every category of their lives. Financially, when studying, in sports, etc. For example: When I gave them an allowance, they had to put a portion in their longterm account(to be taken out after 18 years of age), into their medium term account(to be taken out in Dec. for their Christmas gifts and personal purchases), and short term(mad money for immediate access). It works, but needs discipline to do.

    - 10/15/2012 2:29:13 PM
    Amazing and so needed for me. My husband and I are on the marathon of paying off debt right now, and at the same time we have the vague idea that we'd like to get in shape and lose weight as well. I'm feeling the need more to set small milestones and reward/celebrate in the weight loss department. In the financial department, we have paid of $46,000 of debt in the last 18 months and still so much have our eyes on the goal and the unpaid portion and the end of the marathon - a great goal! But at this milestone of $46,000 which includes all of Nate's student loans, I'd like to pause, breathe and celebrate. So this article is right in line with these two goals.

    One more thought: these two journeys share so many similarities it's amazing. - 12/20/2011 1:00:36 PM
  • Generally a good article, but why is SP advising us to reward ourselves with food (take yourself out to dinner)? I'm trying to use non-food rewards, like buying a new wardrobe, new workout clothes, or a fitness gadget. - 12/7/2011 3:29:28 PM
  • Really nice idea. I think Iīll set some medium goals also. And reward myself for reaching them.(Canīt have anything to do with money though.) Letīs see. Perhaps one for 1000 minutes of excercise every month, and one for every week I stay within my calorie goals and one for every 10 lbs I loose. And choose rewards of things that I donīt normally do, such as a day at the pool, a day all by myself curled up with a good book, a trip to see some friends who live a few hours away, etc
    - 12/7/2011 1:39:11 PM
    I often use a dual account system for rewards. When I achieve my goals for the week, I deposit a notional amount into my "reward" account. When I have a dismal week and don't even come close to achieving my goals, I deposit a notional amount into my "charity" account. After a couple of months, I spend the money in the reward account on something totally frivolous for myself - and I donate the money in the charity account to a cause I care about. I find that donating money to charity when I fail to achieve my goals for a week somehow helps me break the downward destructive spiral of demotivation because I turn my bad week into a good week for someone else. - 12/7/2011 7:48:22 AM
  • I actually started a SparkTeam on here that rewards yourself. Basically you give yourself $1 for every hour/mile you do (obviously can be altered depending on your financial level). You cannot touch the money until the end of each month & at that time, you have the option to save it another month, or you can use it. You cannot spend it on food though & it has to be spent on YOU. We're starting it Sunday. I'm going to work towards a massage and new clothes! :) - 7/27/2011 1:15:19 PM
  • I LOVED THIS ADVICE!!!It is so true...from childhood forward the reward system for goals EASIER reached just keep up the momentum for the LONGER term goals...It has worked for me in EVERY aspect of my life... - 7/26/2011 5:04:37 PM
    Alternative rewards:

    long hot soak in the tub (without interruptions! That calls for family cooperation).
    a trip to a museum or gallery
    a nap
    a weekend afternoon devoted to your hobby

    These are things that I usually don't do or let myself take the time to do. I guess for me, "personal time" is as valuable/rewardin
    g as anything I could buy! - 7/26/2011 12:16:51 PM
  • One of my medium goals is to do a 5k charity walk with my daughter in September.
    - 7/26/2011 10:45:42 AM

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