Setting Long-Term Goals: 45 Examples and Helpful Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 27, 2022 | Published March 8, 2021

Updated June 27, 2022

Published March 8, 2021

Setting long-term goals for yourself can help you advance professionally and personally. If you develop goals effectively, it can help you monitor your progress and maintain your motivation toward reaching them. Learning to create achievable goals can help you continue to improve and be more successful. 

In this article, we discuss long-term goals, provide 45 examples of them, explain how to prioritize these goals and offer tips for setting them.

What are long-term goals?

A long-term goal represents something you want to achieve in the future. These types of goals typically take more time, planning or steps than short-term goals. A short-term goal typically takes less than a year to achieve, while a long-term goal represents an achievement that could take a year or more. Long-term goals can often include multiple short-term goals that can lead you to your desired result. 

Wanting to take a leadership course serves as an example of a short-term goal, and obtaining a master's degree in business administration can represent a long-term goal. Depending on the leadership course, it could take less than a day to sign up and weeks to complete it. However, obtaining a master's degree involves months-long application processes and potentially years to complete your degree. When setting long-term goals, you can define them by several categories. These categories can align with your personal or professional lives and may include:

  • Career goals: Career goals represent professional achievements you hope to reach. These goals typically demonstrate your desire to advance your career or professional standing, and they may include making a career transition, gaining a management role at work or starting a business.

  • Financial goals: Financial goals represent monetary targets you want to reach, and they may help you achieve a broader goal. For example, if you want to buy a car, you may aim to save a specific amount of money first. 

  • Personal goals: Personal goals focus on achievements you want to reach in your personal life, and they may align with your health, hobbies or interests. These goals may overlap with financial goals, such as buying a home. 

Related: Key Differences Between Short-Term and Long-Term Planning

15 examples of long-term career goals

Here are 15 examples of career-related long-term goals you can set to help you succeed professionally: 

  1. Expand your professional network.

  2. Improve hard skills related to your industry.

  3. Develop a relationship with a mentor.

  4. Earn a new professional certification.

  5. Expand your business into a new market.

  6. Market your products through a new channel.

  7. Develop a specialization in your field.

  8. Implement a new technology program.

  9. Become a mentor in your industry.

  10. Become a thought leader in your field.

  11. Get involved in more professional organizations.

  12. Develop a career plan.

  13. Pursue a career in a new industry.

  14. Gain leadership experience.

  15. Read more books about your profession.

Read more: Setting Goals To Improve Your Career

15 examples of long-term financial goals

These 15 long-term financial goals are ones to consider if you’re trying to improve your financial health:

  1. Save enough money to retire at 65.

  2. Set aside money for your child’s education.

  3. Boost your credit score.

  4. Pay off your mortgage.

  5. Create an investment plan.

  6. Save enough to open your own business.

  7. Increase how much money you donate to nonprofits.

  8. Open an emergency fund.

  9. Develop a relationship with a financial mentor.

  10. Make an end-of-life financial plan.

  11. Pay off your student loans.

  12. Create a second source of income.

  13. Save money for a vacation home.

  14. Set aside more money for a health savings account.

  15. Save for a dream vacation.

Related: Financial Objectives: What They Are and Why They Are Important

15 examples of long-term personal goals

Because being more satisfied with your personal life can help you become more focused and effective at work, consider these 15 long-term personal goals you may set:

  1. Learn how to play an instrument.

  2. Write a book.

  3. Learn a new language.

  4. Become a better listener.

  5. Grow your circle of friends.

  6. Improve public speaking skills.

  7. Develop a more positive mindset.

  8. Volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about.

  9. Create a bucket list.

  10. Overcome a fear, such as heights.

  11. Reduce anxiety.

  12. Learn how to better manage stress.

  13. Follow a regular exercise routine.

  14. Improve your emotional intelligence.

  15. Develop your interpersonal skills.

Read more: 20 Achievable Goals To Set for Your Personal Development

How to prioritize goals

You can use the following steps as guidance for prioritizing your goals:

1. List your goals

To understand the long-term goals you want to achieve, you can write a list of the goals you’ve set for yourself. Consider creating separate lists for personal and professional goals to keep your thoughts organized and create more focused priorities. Once you have your list, you can assess them more clearly and be able to prioritize them.

Related: 10 Tips for Reaching Goals (Plus Benefits of Goal Setting)

2. Identify the most important goals

Identify the goals on your list that are most important to you. Your definition of importance can vary but may represent the goals that would most improve or benefit your life. You can go through each item and score them from one to 10. A score of one may demonstrate the goal isn’t relevant now, while 10 represents an extremely important or relevant goal for you. These scores can help you quickly identify where your priorities are.

3. Assess timelines

You also can determine when you want to achieve your goals. For example, you may want to obtain a promotion at work within the next five years. You also can create realistic timelines for how long it would take to achieve these goals. If you want to obtain a bachelor's degree, you can determine it may take four years, for instance. Identifying and assessing these timelines can help you understand your priorities. Based on your timeline, you can determine what to start working on now.

Related: Goal Tracking in the Workplace: 7 Tips To Get You Started

4. Choose which goals to emphasize

Once you identify your goals' importance and timelines, you can combine these factors to prioritize them. For example, goals with high priority and short, achievable timelines can serve as ones to handle first. These goals benefit your current situation, and you can start them immediately. The number of goals you choose may vary based on the time and effort to achieve them. Try prioritizing up to five goals to set your focus toward, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed. 

Related: How To Achieve Your Workplace Goals

5. Make changes as needed

Your priorities may change over time, so try to stay flexible while working toward your goals, adjusting them or their order of priority as needed. Some goals may take you less time to achieve than you thought at first, allowing you to shift your focus elsewhere. Changes in your personal or professional lives may also affect your priorities.

For example, you may have set a goal to gain a promotion at work. However, you may meet a professional who inspires you because of their passion for their career, leading you to set a new goal to transition into a new profession better suited to your passions. Now, getting a promotion at work may matter less, and you instead can focus on the steps to pursue a new career.

Related: 10 Effective Goal-Setting Techniques for Achieving Your Goals

Tips for setting long-term goals

There are many strategies you can use to develop goals, so consider the following tips to help you set goals for personal or professional advancement:

  • Use visualization techniques: You can create a mental picture of what you want your life to look like at a specific point, such as five or 10 years from now, which can help you understand your top priorities and which goals are most important to you. Then, you can work backward to determine what steps to take to achieve those results. 

  • Be specific: Adding specific details can help you define the results you want to achieve and the steps you can take. For example, if you have a goal to learn a new language, you can set smaller goals to accomplish it, such as practicing for at least 30 minutes per day.

  • Make them measurable: Setting measurable goals can help you track your progress, and these measurements can help you define the results you want to achieve. For example, if you want to lose 30 pounds within a year, you can schedule check-ins for yourself and use them to determine whether you’re on track or require adjustments to meet your deadline. 

  • Ensure they’re achievable: Try to set realistic, achievable goals to keep yourself motivated and positive, even if they’re challenging. Setting tough yet achievable goals for yourself can help you develop new skills and boost your confidence even further.

  • Identify challenges: While setting your goals, take time to identify any challenges you may encounter on your journey to achieving them. By understanding these challenges in advance, you can begin developing plans for navigating or avoiding them. 

  • Share your goals with others: When you set important goals for yourself, consider sharing them with trusted friends, family members or colleagues. Taking this step can help ensure accountability for reaching these goals.

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