Motivation Articles

The Importance of Setting Medium-Term Goals

A Reward System to Reach Your Dreams!

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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

  • Spark has a really good companion article for this one. Rewards are a basic part of learning theory & a good idea when we're establishing new behaviors.

    ation_articles.asp?id=86 - 5/15/2016 5:59:03 PM
  • Love this idea. Not a fan of food-based rewards though. - 10/19/2015 10:04:29 AM
  • I am not one to reward myself usually. It's just not the way I am. I do need to stay motivated though. I have a short-term goal that I started April 1st - to lose 20 pounds by May 22nd. I started out fine, losing 2 lbs. each week. But last week and this week I haven't lost any. I am still exercising and have been doing strength training with weights. My muscles are started to look toned but I am so frustrated that I have hit this plateau. This is bad for me because in the past this has caused me to derail my program. - 4/28/2015 2:00:33 PM
  • Goals, yes! Rewards, no!! I don't believe in rewarding myself for something I should be doing. That's like rewarding myself for doing the laundry or cleaning the house. "And when you have done all that, say to yourself 'I am an unworthy servant. I have only done my duty.' That sums it up in a nutshell. - 4/28/2015 10:32:30 AM
  • Great article, but I too would like to see more ideas for no-cost, food-free rewards. A walk in the woods, taking my dog to the park, a guilt-free couple of hours kicking back with a book or old movie can be more relaxing than dinner out if it's going to stretch the budget. - 4/8/2015 3:19:19 PM
  • rewards are probably one of the hardest things for me --- I most always get what I NEED --- and usually get what I want ???

    I know it's a cop out but losing the weight is a pretty NEAT reward for me. - 4/2/2015 11:08:28 AM
  • 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

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