13 Examples of Achievable Career Goals

Need some career inspiration for setting your short- and long-term goals? Here are 13 ideas to help you get started, plus how to achieve them.

Worker progressing up stairs achieving career goals

Most people aspire to grow professionally because they see it as the best way to become more fulfilled and improve their living standards. But career development isn’t always easy; many people don’t know what is realistically achievable or how to develop a strategic career plan to achieve their objectives.

Your career goals should reflect your professional vision, and you need to think carefully about what you want to accomplish. Below you’ll find a list of career goal examples that are both realistic and achievable. At the end of the article, you’ll also find different types of career goals, which can help you to develop your own career objectives.

Career goal examples

Career goals can be defined in terms of a short to medium-long term timeframe. When setting them, it’s always wise to consider how your short-term goals will help you to achieve your long term ones.

Short-term goals

Some realistic short-term goals might include the following:

1. Increase your performance metrics

Among other things, your performance metrics essentially relate to how efficient you are at work. It might mean ensuring customer satisfaction, delivering projects within deadlines or helping your company reduce costs; however your performance is quantified, addressing your metrics helps you to build up your reputation in the workplace and makes it that much easier for you to achieve longer-term goals like getting promoted.

2. Earn a degree or professional certificate

It’s important for all professionals to continue their education, as it can help them remain up-to-date and current within their professions. Postgraduate courses, such as MBAs, can also help to grow and improve your skillset, making you a more valuable asset. If you’re thinking about taking proactive steps in continuing your education, then make sure that you’re investing in something that can truly help improve your career.

3. Create a personal website

It’s important for professionals to invest in their personal brand and there’s no better means to showcase your skills than with a personal website. Whether you are interested in getting a job, increasing your followers or changing careers, a website can help you achieve all of those goals, especially when it doubles as a portfolio.

4. Network

In order to realistically achieve your long-term career objectives, you are going to need contacts in your industry who can provide valuable feedback and introduce you to new opportunities. Improving your networking skills is a great career goal example as it can open doors and help make your long-term goals more achievable.

5. Improve your communication skills

Improving your communication skills is beneficial no matter what your career aspirations are. Communication forms the core aspect of other key soft skills, such as teamwork and cultural awareness, while also aiding your personal development, too. Whether through taking up a course, joining a volunteering organisation or getting a new hobby, improving your communication skills can be fun as well as worthwhile.

6. Change jobs

The process of getting a new job might be stressful, but it’s often necessary in order to develop your career and acquire new skills. Staying in the same job for years when you are not being rewarded for your dedication is often detrimental, so if you feel like you’re stagnating, then you might consider moving to a more challenging role.

Long-term goals

When interviewers enquire as to where you see yourself in five years, they’re essentially trying to figure out what your long-term goals are. Here are some examples of a few longer-term objectives:

7. Get a promotion

Most people class earning a promotion as a long-term goal, and the good news is that it is a realistic target if you have a strategic plan. Keep in mind that earning a promotion has as much to do with your vocational skills as with your soft skills, so make sure that you display all the qualities that are valued in your workplace. Don’t be afraid to be vocal about your aspirations to your boss, either.

8. Change careers

At some point, many professionals find themselves unhappy with their career choice and, rather than change job, they decide to overhaul their entire career completely. Changing careers has become increasingly commonplace, and while you’ll need to retrain in order to learn the ins and outs of your newly chosen path, the transition can be seamless - provided, of course, that you are able to utilise your transferable skills.

9. Start a business

Many people are interested in working for themselves and creating something of their own, and if you are a visionary or have an entrepreneurial mind, then starting a business is something you should seriously consider. Make sure that you do your research before you take the leap, though.

10. Become a subject matter expert

If you have a pioneering mindset and a strong knowledge of your industry and/or sector, then becoming an influencer could be a viable option. You’ll need to be authoratitive, brand-aware and capable of building a large network, but once you’re established as the go-to expert, there is plenty of scope for carving out a niche as a consultant.

11. Break into management

Although many employees have ambitions of power, the reality is that not everyone makes a good leader. If you feel that you have a lot to offer as a manager, though, then you should by all means go for it. Just remember that a good boss is only as successful as their team, so don’t forget where you’ve just come from.

12. Feel happier at work

Whether it’s as the result of feeling pressured to improve your performance, or that you don’t feel valued enough, many people feel unsatisfied at work. While there’s not a lot you can do if you have a micromanager for a boss – other than changing jobs, of course – it’s important to come up with strategies that will help improve your sense of happiness every time you punch in.

13. Build your personal brand

As alluded to already, it’s becoming more and more important for professionals to brand themselves, regardless of their aspirations or their field. Developing a personal brand can help you gain respect and it can also make you feel more involved in your work.

Types of goals

As you might be interested in a different set of goals than the ones mentioned above, it’s important to help develop techniques that will allow you to identify your own goals. Generally speaking, career goals can be split into four categories:

1. Productivity

Being productive at work can help you maintain your performance and, therefore, identifying objectives that will help you produce results is an important first step for all professionals. Productivity goals refer to your ability to consistently work to certain standards or deadlines that may be imposed by the client or the employer.

2. Efficiency

In a similar vein to productivity, efficiency refers to your ability to achieve results in the workplace. But what makes efficiency different is that it is crucial in progressing your career. Efficiency goals have to do with the speed, accuracy and consistency with which you can produce strong results to a high standard.

3. Education

In this context, education refers to your ability to develop in the workplace. As industries and sectors evolve and look to explore new technologies, you need to seek out opportunities to learn new things. Developing your skills, investing in emerging theories and keeping yourself at the sharp edge of developments can all help to put you ahead of the competition.

4. Personal development

Personal development is essential for success and as such you need to identify goals that fall under this category. These could be improving your communication or leadership skills and developing conflict management and strategic contribution skills at work.  These skills are just as important as vocational competencies, and they can help professionals develop short-term goals that will lead them to achieving their longer-term ones.

Final thoughts

As you can see, goal setting doesn’t have to be difficult; it simply needs to reflect your priorities in life, as this is the only way to ensure that you’ll be passionate about reaching them. The best way to achieve that is with self-motivation, although you can implement a few of these strategies as well.

What career goals have you set for yourself? Have you ever made any mistakes while pursuing your goals? Let us know in the comments section below.

This article is an updated version of an earlier article published on 11 April 2017.