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4 Ways to Set Short-term and Long-term Goals for Your Career

It is widely understood that there is no shortcut to success. Achieving the ultimate goal is not a destiny but a journey in itself.

Ways to Set Short-term and Long-term Career Goals

How to set short-term and long-term goals is a question that is often asked and one that is important for you as a professional in order to move forward in your career. In order for you or your company to keep growing, you need to set short-term goals while working towards your long-term goals.

If you are not clear about what goal to pursue, no amount of hard work can make you productive. There might be times when you feel like you have been working for a long time, and yet not be able to achieve what you aspire to. Setting goals, long-term and short-term, will help you grow slowly but surely.

How are short-term and long-term goals different?

While the two might appear to overlap, they still hold their respective individuality. Short-term goals are the bridges that will help you reach your ultimate destination. Short term goals may include doing a few programs or courses, establishing relationships with certain groups to grow your network, reaching a certain monetary target in a short span of time, etc. All of these steps will slowly help your career. Hard work brings out results only when accompanied by smart work. And setting feasible goals is what will help you get there.

In a nutshell, long-term goals are the big picture goals you should create, like 5-10 year goals. While short-term goals are the smaller accomplishments that collectively help you reach your long-term goals. So while they might be similar, they are also very different.

Here are some tips on how to set short-term and long-term goals;


1. Set realistic timelines

Ensure that you are not overestimating and over-promising when it comes to setting goals. Setting goals that need you to over-extend yourself, and yet not achieve are not the kind of goals you should be setting. Set goals that you know you can achieve in the given time. This will add to your accomplishments and keep you motivated as time goes by.

Setting feasible goals also involves specifying your ultimate goal. So take the time to establish what the big picture is for your career or your company. This will help you break down the long-term goals in order to set short-term ones. There is a difference between ‘being successful’ and ‘reaching a designation’. Where the former is vague, the latter is specific. Once you have specified your final goal, it is easy to identify the smaller steps that need to be taken to move towards it. Setting and achieving short-term goals will keep you focused and on-track to achieve the next target, and then the next, and ultimately reach your long-term goals.

Read: How to Achieve Goals through Time Management for Senior Executives

2. Set realistic goals

Be sure to not only set goals that can be achieved in a given timeframe, but also set goals that you can achieve. This is especially true for short-term goals. While goals are meant to push you to do better, they should also complement your skills. If you need to achieve something that is not in your current skill set, then acquiring that skill should be your first short-term goal. You can not cross the river if you do not know how to swim or ride a boat. If you set goals that do not complement your skills, you will find yourself struggling to achieve something you don’t know how to achieve.

3. Be consistent

Being consistent in working towards your short and long term goals for work is just as important as setting them. Life will always get in the way and procrastination will possibly prove to be the biggest enemy of your success. But being consistent will ensure you keep moving forward even strengthens your will to confidently move forward towards your goals.

4. Review and revise

While it is very important to identify your goals, it is even more important to keep yourself updated on what needs to be done to achieve them. Circumstances, priorities, and more will continuously fluctuate and evolve, so your goals, whether short-term or long-term goals, need to evolve as well. So ensure that you regularly review your progress and revise your goals if required. Do what needs to be done to strengthen your pace to reach your goals.


Setting goals is subjective to your individual capabilities, dedication, and inner will. These points will help you short-term and long-term goals that will help you to keep moving forward so that the work you do today will give you the results you want in the future.

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