The Importance of Long-term Career Goals: A Definitive Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 16, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Setting career goals can help professionals in all industries better organize their time and establish a career plan. With these goals, you can determine what your ideal career path is and the steps you can take to accomplish it. Understanding why long-term career goals are important may help you set better, more achievable objectives for yourself as you advance in your career. In this article, we explain what long-term career goals are and discuss their importance.

What are long-term career goals?

Long-term career goals are objectives for professional progression and success. Professionals typically set long-term career goals to set a direction for their career, reach a specific objective, like a higher salary, or motivate themselves to improve continuously. These goals can be within one company or industry, or they can involve changing careers or finding a better job in your current industry. Long-term goals typically include several steps to complete, and it can take months or years to fully accomplish them.

Importance of long-term career goals

Setting long-term career goals can be incredibly important to the success of your career path for many reasons, including:

Establishing confidence

Setting long-term goals can help professionals establish metrics for their personal and professional growth. A long-term goal provides an objective to work toward, which can build confidence and fulfillment in your position as you progress. Once you reach the long-term goal, you can review your progress and track your growth. Having a metric to measure your progress with can help you feel more confident about how much you've achieved. It also can help inspire you to create new, more ambitious goals as your confidence increases.

Related: A Comprehensive Guide to Organizational Goals

Pursuing training or education

Long-term career goals can help professionals learn what educational credentials or additional training they can pursue to help them reach those goals. Having an advanced degree or specialized training may help you accomplish long-term goals. For example, if an entry-level engineer wants to become a senior engineer or engineering supervisor, they might pursue studies in education and leadership training. Setting an initial goal of becoming a senior engineer can help you establish where to begin and allow you to research a position's requirements before you pursue it, which can save you time and money as you work toward your goal.

Knowing when to change companies

Setting long-term career goals can help professionals identify when changing companies might be a good choice for their careers. With a long-term goal established, you can analyze your employer's values, goals and support system to see whether they're a match for you. If not, you can seek employment with another company that can support your professional goals, which can help you reach your long-term goal more quickly. Finding a job that's a better fit also can make you feel more valuable as a professional and more confident about reaching your long-term goals.

Read more: Setting Goals To Improve Your Career

Establishing salary requirements

Long-term goals can help you determine your salary requirements based on your credentials and experience. For example, an investment banker might set a long-term goal of managing over $10 million in assets and earning at least $100,000. Establishing this long-term goal can help the banker understand their salary options and what the worth of their services is. Earning your desired salary can help increase your career confidence and satisfaction, and it also can provide you with more financial security and create additional income for family activities, vacations, investments or other activities.

Achieving milestones

Long-term career goals help establish milestones, which are measurements of progression in a career path. For example, a consultant might set milestones for earning 10, 20 and 30 clients or having a celebrity client. Milestones help professionals measure their progress and allow them to set new goals based on where they are in their careers. Long-term goals typically include milestones you can use to track your progress or determine what changes you can make to accomplish them more efficiently. Milestones also can help an employer measure the value of each employee to determine whether they're a match for the company.

Earning financial security

A long-term career goal can help professionals make better financial decisions and create greater financial security for themselves and their families. A long-term career plan can help you analyze your salary potential and allocate specific percentages of your earnings to retirement plans, savings or investments. This can be helpful for long-term financial or family planning. For example, if you want to start a family, you might create a salary requirement and a budget to ensure you can provide for children. Earning better financial security also can help you be ready for emergencies or unexpected costs.

Related: How To Write a Professional Development Plan (With Examples)

Avoiding burnout

Setting long-term career goals can help prevent burnout, which is when you become exhausted or bored with your work. These goals can help provide a tangible metric of success you can strive for if you start to feel that way in your career. Achieving milestones and progressing toward your goals can give increase your happiness and confidence, which can prevent you from experiencing burnout.

Goals can include resources or plans for you to use if you get burnout. For example, a professional progressing through management in a large corporation might have a series of stress management techniques to help them stay calm and focused at work.

Finding fulfillment in work

A long-term career goal can help professionals find fulfillment in their jobs as they progress and reach milestones. Fulfillment can reduce stress and make you feel pride in your career progress and contributions. Long-term goals help professionals measure the milestones they reach and how their successes compare to their original goals. This can allow them to adjust their goals to maximize their fulfillment. For example, you might set a long-term goal to become a company CEO. Once they reach that goal, which may take several years and a lot of work, your accomplishments may bring you a lot of happiness and pride in what you accomplished.

Related: Career Goal Statement: Why They Are Important + Examples

Creating a strong professional network

Long-term career goals can help you create a strong, supportive network of people to help you reach those goals. Once you set a goal, you can pursue connections with people who can help you achieve it directly or who have industry knowledge that may help you reach it. Strong professional connections can provide support if your career path becomes challenging and can give you a sense of community as you progress. For example, an aspiring actor might set a goal to network with directors and producers to become more engaged with the acting industry and find more work.

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