Productivity Trades & Services

Long and Short Term Goals For Tradies

Written by Jon Dale

Everyone talks about goals. They are so important for personal growth and development. In a business context, they give you focus and direction. If you don’t aim somewhere specific, it’s likely you’ll go nowhere at all.

I like to draw on a couple of real-life situations to illustrate this point:

  1. You may not know this but people lost in a snowstorm or fog or a large pine forest go round in circles. Because they can’t see any distant landmarks to aim for, it’s hard to walk in a straight line and they end up more or less back where they started.
  2. Remember Bear Grylls in that TV show Man vs Wild, where he was dropped into the wilderness and had to survive and escape? The first thing he did every episode was climb to a high point and identify a landmark to aim for. He would use this landmark to reorient himself during his escape.

In both of these stories aiming for a distant goal is important — without it, you get lost or don’t go anywhere.

And the same is true in business — you need to aim somewhere.

I get my coaching clients to set a 3 year goal. 

That’s their long term goal, that distant landmark that excites them or makes them feel like it’s all going to be worthwhile.

We describe the goal in terms of money and their involvement in their business.

Most of us want a bigger, more profitable business, that requires less of our attention, that does work we’re proud of and that does the right thing by our customers and our team and anybody else we come into contact with.

Create a clear, singular goal and be sure to check periodically that you are still working towards it. The goal should inform all of your decisions (ask yourself: will this help us get there?) and of course, it’s the first part of your strategy.

(Your strategy is your plan for how you will move from where you are currently to where you want to be.)

There’s a problem with long term goals, though – psychologists say that they can leave us demotivated.


If they’re too distant and unreachable (even though they’re incredibly motivating and exactly where you think that you want to be), you can be left feeling like you’ve not made any progress.

How to use your goals to stay motivated

There are a few things that you can do to counter this demotivating effect. You can:

  • Have short term goals that you can actually achieve (that’s motivating)
  • Monitor progress — financially and in terms of the jobs or milestones in your strategy that you’ve completed
  • Stop (maybe when you check in with your long term goal) and look back at how far you’ve come.

These strategies help you stay motivated to keep doing the work that will get you to that long-term goal, and help remind you that what you are doing is working and that you are actually making progress.

My clients, those people in the Tradies Toolbox Coaching Program do all these things — we monitor progress with our Big Numbers Tracker, we look at our strategy and we tick off what we’ve completed.We set a 3-month plan, and we monitor it too — it brings us into focus and it gives us a short term goal or two that we can actually achieve.


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About the author

Jon Dale

Jon Dale, of Small Fish Business Coaching is a business coach for tradies - trades business owners wanting to grow their businesses. His articles will help you understand how to manage your marketing, sales, operational systems and the people of your business. His program is called the Tradies Toolbox because he hopes you can use it, like a tool, to make more money and build a business you're proud of.

There are a few ways you can explore whether working with Jon is right for you, right now:
1. You can watch these videos - subscribe here to get them emailed every week.
2. You can join the Tradies Business Toolshed Facebook Group and participate.
3. You can attend the next Tools Down Workshop - 2 days of Jon explaining the framework.
4. Or you can book a 10-minute filter call where you and Jon will both look at whether he can help.