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Setting career goals to create a better future for yourself (with examples)

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Achieving career advancement while successfully balancing your personal life is a huge undertaking. 

One of the ways to manage both is through setting career goals.

Understanding the importance of goal-setting in your professional life may help you grow, boost your career, and have a better insight into your future aspirations.

Let’s see a brief summary of the story behind career goals, which includes:

  • Importance of career goals
  • Types of career goals
  • Examples of career goals
  • How to set career goals

What is a career goal and why is it important?

A career goal is a target — something that you aim to achieve to level up in your professional life. 

For instance, your career goal can include attending training to enhance your management skills or something more long-term such as climbing the corporate ladder.

Apart from focusing on your professional development, here are some other reasons why setting career goals is beneficial.

Benefit #1: Career goals improve your skills

Certain career goals require knowledge enhancement to be fulfilled, such as learning a new language or obtaining a computer certificate.

Benefit #2: Career goals help you use time effectively

Using a time tracking tool can help you have a timeframe in mind, making your goals more achievable and realistic as a result. 

Benefit #3: Career goals boost your self-esteem

Achieving your career goals gives you a sense of:

  • Personal satisfaction, 
  • Appreciation, and 
  • Confidence. 

Benefit #4: Career goals help you find a sense of purpose

Once you set career goals, the feeling of being stuck in a career rut diminishes for good.

You stop wandering without an aim — but rather work and keep growing.

Benefit #5: Career goals eliminate procrastination for good

When you have a clearly defined goal for your future development, the habit of procrastinating stops once and for all (or at least lowers drastically).

Types of career goals

We will classify career goals based on the time required to complete them. 

Therefore, career goals can be:

Short-term career goals

These are goals that you can achieve within the next 6 months to a year. They include small changes and adjustments to combat a temporary obstacle in your career path. Short-term career goals are most often steps towards achieving a long-term goal.

Long-term career goals

These are grander goals that require more patience, effort, and time to achieve. The amount of time needed to achieve such goals is 2 to 10 years.

The following are examples of short-term and long-term career goals that deal with enhancing your education, personal skills, productivity, efficiency, work/life balance, and more. 

Short-term career goals (examples)

The following are some examples of short-term goals.

Enhance your knowledge

When it comes to a goal that can be achieved in the near future — finishing a course to gain new skills may be an ideal example.

You may also try attending seminars, enrolling in online courses, finding a mentor, etc.

Start working on self-improvement 

Self-improvement is beneficial on so many levels, including reaching your career goals as a final result. 

With regards to boosting your career, opt for:

  • A personality development seminar,
  • Watch life-coaching videos,
  • Keep a journal, and similar.

Boost your productivity

One of the ways that may help you increase your productivity is by paying attention to your time management. 

For instance, you can make use of a productivity tracker app that identifies where you spend time.

You may also try calculating your biological prime time to find your most productive time of day.

Become more efficient with your resources

When you allocate your resources accordingly (for example, money, time, workforce, etc.) — you don’t damage your efficiency. 

This applies to both individuals and business owners.

Regarding short-term goals, start tracking your or your company’s expenses (e.g. mileage, meals, employee pay rates, etc.).

Again, an expense-tracking app may streamline the process. Or, opt for a traditional expense ledger — whatever works best for you.

Improve work/life balance 

If your company offers flexible work arrangements — such as hybrid work — make use of it and create a perfect work/life balance for yourself. 

Combining distance work and work from the office may lower the risk of burnout, too.

Other short-term goals focused on improving your work/life balance include

Long-term career goals (examples)

Here are some examples of more ambitious career goals that take longer to achieve.

Enhance your education in the long run

A great example of a bigger undertaking with respect to long-term career goals would be finishing college. 

It requires up to 10 years to complete (some studies even more).

Other examples of long-term goals focused on education include gaining a Ph.D., learning a foreign language, etc.

Sharpen your soft skills

Communication in the workplace is an essential tool for maintaining strong relationships. 

Soft skill enhancement includes fostering effective communication — but also active listening, public speaking, showing empathy, and the like.

You may also consider becoming a better team leader, managing emotions at work, etc.

Change your work habits

Apart from boosting your time management skills, creating a schedule that you’re going to stick to is another effective way to break bad habits. 

For that purpose, try the time blocking technique that lets you organize your day by defining small blocks of time for each activity or task.

Try adding frequent breaks to your work routine as well.

Set a financial goal for your future 

For instance — map out a thorough retirement plan. This is a long-lasting undertaking, and you should start thinking about it as soon as you get a serious, i.e., full-time job.

You may also develop the habit of tracking your expenses to get a better insight into your financial habits.

Declutter your life

Get rid of everything that stands between you and success — reduce clutter in your home, phone, computer, workstation, etc. Also, don’t be afraid to cut toxic people from your life and surround yourself with like-minded people.

You will see how these changes positively affect your organization and prioritization skills. 

How to set career goals 

Although there is no strict guideline on how to set your goals (whether short-term or long-term), we came up with some insightful steps you should take to start your goal-setting journey:

Step #1: Find your personal motivation and develop self-discipline.

Step #2: Surround yourself with like-minded people.

Step #3: Break down your goal into smaller and more manageable goals.

Step #4: Incorporate the SMART goal criteria into your goal-setting process.

Step #5: Track the progress of your professional goals using a goal-tracking app.

Step #6: Make sure to reevaluate and modify your goals as you go.

Step #7: Balance career goals and personal life.

Step #8: Define your career goal statement.

Further reading

This is just a summary of an article previously published on the Clockify blog.
To learn more about setting career goals, we recommend reading the full article: