14 Short-Term Goals to Improve Your Career Today

Updated July 31, 2023

Short-term work goals can improve your career prospects by helping you define your objectives for a certain period of time. Regardless of your line of work and rank within your organization, setting realistic milestones for the foreseeable future is likely to make you more productive in work. Setting up short-term goals for work is an important step to take, but doing  so takes commitment and dedication to accomplish them.

In this article, we discuss 14 types of short-term goals for work, and why they’re important for career development.

Why are short-term goals for work important?

Short-term professional goals are generally small objectives that you set for yourself with the ultimate purpose of achieving your long-term career goals. Aside from dividing a complex objective into several smaller ones and making it more achievable, short-term goals also keep you motivated on your way to long-term success. Creating smaller milestones means that you are always focused on your next target.

Related: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

Types of short-term goals for work

There are different kinds of short-term goals for work that can directly or indirectly improve your career prospects. They can be:

  • Career short-term goals

  • Financial short-term goals

  • Academic short-term goals

  • Health short-term goals

Career short-term goals

These goals will have a direct positive impact on your professional life and generally consist of small changes and adjustments that help you be more productive. They can be as basic as making sure you get in 10 minutes early every day or keeping a clean and well-organized desk. Other direct short-term goals for work can be learning to communicate better with coworkers and customers, networking more or earning an additional professional specialization.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples

Financial short-term goals

Although not necessarily linked to work goals, setting short-term financial goals is likely to improve your long-term professional outlook by giving you greater control over your income. Goals such as reducing or eliminating credit card debt, depositing a certain percentage of your monthly income into a savings account, keeping better track of your budget or learning how to invest can compound into long-term achievements.

Academic short-term goals

Improving your education can lead to many personal and professional improvements. From a career standpoint, academic achievements can lead to new opportunities that can help you achieve your long-term goals for work. Deciding to take on a work-relevant course and setting up mini-milestones that will help you keep track of your progress is likely to improve your professional long-term prospects.

Health short-term goals

Being healthy and energetic is usually a very important factor in professional success. Therefore improving your overall health and fitness can be a significant goal for both your personal and professional lives. Simply committing to regularly going to a gym, sleeping more or reducing unhealthy foods from your diet can give you the energy and confidence you need to achieve your long-term goals.

Related: 10 Tips for Being More Goal-Oriented at Work

14 examples of short-term goals for work

Here are examples of some of the most relevant professional short-term objectives:

1. Earn a new certificate or degree

Virtually all professional fields gradually change, with new technology and new ways of doing things. This is why constant learning is an important short-term goal. A postgraduate course or any other kind of relevant education is likely to improve your career prospects and give you an advantage over the competition.

2. Improve your performance numbers

The goal of increasing your work metrics, such as the quality, quantity and efficiency of your work, is probably the most straightforward professional short-term goal, as it directly helps you get better at what you do. Your performance metrics depend on your profession and hiring organization, but are typically related to increasing customer satisfaction, delivering all projects within the set deadlines and reducing company costs. Working on these metrics every day will put you in a good position for achieving a long-term goal such as earning a promotion.

3. Improve your networking and communication skills

Learning how to communicate and reaching out to relevant professionals within your line of work can potentially help you achieve your long-term career goals. Networking can provide you with valuable industry contacts that may lead to new opportunities. To take full advantage of networking opportunities, you will have to improve your communication skills, helping you successfully communicate with the right people. Aside from making networking more efficient, improving your communication skills is likely to help you better coordinate with your coworkers and be more of a team player.

4. Change your job

Finding a new place to work can also be considered a short-term professional goal. There are situations when a certain job or organization is not able to help you further your career development. By changing your job, you will keep yourself motivated and maintain your desire to improve, which will ultimately benefit your career prospects.

5. Improve your work-life balance

Finding the right balance between working too much and too little is important for your quality of life and if done effectively, will make a positive impact on your health, wellbeing and workplace performance. Therefore, planning to find a work-life balance that will give you enough time to pursue your professional goals without affecting your health and mental wellbeing is an important short-term work goal.

6. Waste less time during work hours

The time you put in and the results you deliver during work hours can compound over time and set you on your way to achieving your long-term objectives. Planning to cut back on time-wasting habits during work hours, such as browsing the Internet or talking to friends and family will help you become more productive and achieve more in the time you spend at work.

7. Make a website for yourself

Creating a personal website is a quick and effective way to showcase your work experience and skills. It may prove to be useful in many situations, such as when you're applying to new positions or for getting more recognition at work.

8. Communicate with your coworkers more

Most professional jobs and roles are part of a larger team effort, so good communication and interaction with your coworkers is likely to improve your odds of career success. Make an effort to communicate and interact with them whenever possible, such as on lunch breaks or at company events.

9. Get to work earlier

Arriving at work or a work-related events just 15 minutes earlier each day is a short-term goal that can potentially improve your long-term career prospects. Not only is it easier to focus and organize your day when fewer people are around, but you will also create an image of a hard-working and dedicated person.

10. Organize your workstation

Keeping your desk or any other workspace neat and organized can significantly improve your productivity and morale. It will also show others that you are a highly-organized individual.

11. Read more

Regardless of the industry you work in and the role you have, things are likely to be always improving. Therefore, you can always find new things to learn. Make a conscious effort to read at least one job-related book every month. The newly-acquired information will compound over time and is likely to be a professional asset at one point in the future.

12. Get familiar with new technology

There are constant technological improvements in virtually every field, and being familiar with those happening in your line of work can potentially improve your future performance. Look for online sources that cover such industry developments, and check them regularly so you can stay on top of them.

13. Start a personal project

Working on something you're passionate about in your spare time can also have a positive effect on your professional life. A side project is likely to keep you creative and in a positive mood, making difficult workplace experiences easier to cope with.

14. Observe your coworkers

Make an effort to carefully observe how your coworkers deal with certain workplace situations, especially coworkers with more experience than yours. This will potentially expose you to new ways of doing certain things, but you will also have a better idea of who the most hardworking and efficient people in the office are.

Frequently asked questions

How do you make short-term goals for work?

You can start making short-term goals by determining whether you want to complete daily tasks or work toward long-term goals. If you want to work toward long-term goals, try identifying smaller tasks that can help you reach your bigger objectives. You can also use the SMART method to establish goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Additionally, try tracking your progress and rewarding yourself when you achieve desirable results.

What are short-term vs. long-term goals?

One of the main differences between short and long-term goals is the amount of time it takes to achieve them. Short-term goals are achievable anywhere from one day to one year, while long-term goals take around five to 10 years to accomplish. While short-term goals may help you work toward long-term goals, they can also be relatively independent of your long-term career success. For instance, you might establish a short-term goal of meeting with your supervisor to discuss an ongoing issue with a colleague.

How to answer an interview question about your short-term career goals?

Before an interview, consider reflecting on your short-term career goals to prepare for this potential question from hiring managers. Your answer can be authentic while aligning with the company and the role for which you're applying. Additionally, try to emphasize how your goals would contribute to the company's growth if you were to obtain the position.

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