14 Short-Term Goals to Improve Your Career Today

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 27, 2022

Published July 26, 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.

Regardless of your role or the industry you work in, setting goals for yourself can improve your work ethic and motivation. Setting short-term goals that lead to bigger, long-term goals gives you something to work toward as well. Knowing how to set short-term goals properly increases the likelihood that you'll accomplish them. In this article, we discuss different short-term goals and examples and explain why they're important for career development.

Why are short-term goals for work important?

Creating and accomplishing short-term goals is a great way to work towards long-term career goals. It breaks your larger goals up into smaller, easy-to-follow steps. Accomplishing these smaller goals motivates you and keeps you focused on your next target. Having short-term goals also allows you to monitor your progress easily and adjust your path when necessary. If you decide halfway through a short-term goal that it's not what you want to pursue, you can switch paths with minimal time lost.

Related: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

Types of short-term goals and examples

Professional and personal short-term goals can all affect your work. Here are the most common types of short-term goals and examples:

Career short-term goals

Short-term career goals can have a direct and positive impact on your professional life. They usually consist of small adjustments to your skills or habits at work, helping you improve and be more productive. They can be simple and improve your work immediately, such as arriving 10 minutes earlier to work or cleaning your workspace. Or they can be more complex and lead towards long-term goals, such as pursuing a new certification or networking more.

Read more:

  • How to Create a Career Plan in 9 Steps

  • 12 Examples of Career Goals for Professional Growth

Financial short-term goals

Although financial goals aren't directly linked to career goals, setting them can improve your professional outlook, as it gives you more control over your spending and income. These can include goals such as putting a portion of your paycheque into a savings account, creating a budget to lower spending, or learning how to invest.

Academic short-term goals

A great way to improve your work is to improve your knowledge. While you may already have a degree, diploma, or specialized training, the workforce is constantly changing and academic achievements can lead to new opportunities. Consider taking online courses, attending seminars or workshops, or even pursuing a new degree or diploma.

Health short-term goals

Regardless of your role at work, having good mental and physical health is important. If you're not feeling well, you won't be able to do your best work. For this reason, improving your overall health and fitness is a great personal and professional goal. You can start small by walking more, going to sleep earlier, or reducing unhealthy foods in your diet. This improves your energy and overall mood, allowing you to be more productive and successful at work.

14 examples of short-term goals for work

To help you create your own short-term goals at work, here are some common examples:

1. Obtain a new certificate or degree

With new technology and processes being implemented regularly, the workforce is constantly changing. To keep up with these changes and improve your knowledge, you may want to consider pursuing a new certificate, diploma, or degree. Many colleges and universities offer part-time learning, so your short-term goal, in this case, could be to complete individual courses. You can even take classes online when you're not working. Having a new educational background can improve your career prospects and help you stand out over other candidates. This allows you to seek a promotion or even a new career.

2. Change your job

If your current position or organization doesn't challenge or motivate you, you may want to consider changing your job. This could be a change in companies, roles, or even industries. This will keep you motivated and help you develop new skills and knowledge, improving your career prospects in the long run.

3. Improve your work-life balance

To ensure you're not overworked or stressed, having a good work-life balance is important. You don't want to work so much that you can't participate in your hobbies or spend time with your loved ones. Conversely, you want to work enough that you have time to pursue your professional goals. You need enough time in both categories to succeed at work without negatively affecting your health and mental well-being. Work towards improving your work-life balance by setting short-term goals such as meeting a friend for dinner once a week, having a weekly movie night with your family, or consistently leaving work on time.

Read more: A Helpful Guide to Having a Great Work-Life Balance

4. Be more productive at work

It's easy to get distracted at work by using your phone, browsing the internet, or talking to coworkers about your personal life. Try to eliminate these time-wasting activities during work to be more productive and achieve more. Being productive at work is also motivating, and leads to higher job satisfaction. Employers value employees who can focus and be productive.

5. Build stronger relationships with your coworkers

Many roles require strong teamwork skills, so interacting more with your coworkers can improve your team's chances of success. Try talking to your coworkers on your breaks, and attending company events. You can also consider asking them if they want to go for coffee or dinner.

Read more: Building Relationships: Benefits, Tips and How-to Guide

6. Get to work earlier

Getting to work earlier is a great way to increase your productivity. You can work while fewer people are around, eliminating distractions. This also shows your managers that you are reliable and hard-working, increasing your chance of a promotion in the future. Start small by getting to work a minute earlier for a few days, then two minutes, and so on until you're arriving 10 to 15 minutes earlier.

7. Organize your workstation or office

Organizing your workstation or office is a great short-term goal to improve your productivity and morale. An organized space makes it easier to find documents or supplies and allows you to focus on your work rather. This also shows your coworkers and managers you have strong organizational skills.

8. Learn about new technology

New technology is constantly being invented and implemented in every industry. Learning how to use it can help you work more efficiently and improve your performance at work. Keeping up-to-date with technological developments may even allow you to suggest new technology to your managers to increase productivity for everyone.

9. Start a personal project

Although working on something you're passionate about is a personal goal, it can have a positive effect on your professional life as well. Starting a personal project and pursuing your interests can make you more creative and positive. You can then apply these attributes to your work.

10. Create a morning routine

Creating a morning routine is a great way to help you be more organized and get to work early and is a very effective short-term goal. It can also improve your mood as you feel more prepared and arrive at your workplace ready for the day or shift ahead. Your morning routine can include anything from a small workout and a healthy breakfast to beauty rituals.

11. Attend a workshop

Another great short-term goal that improves your knowledge is to attend a workshop, conference, or seminar. Look for ones in your area about topics that interest you or apply to your work. Many are available online and don't take too much time, but if you attend in person, it's also a great way to network and meet like-minded people in your industry.

12. Improve your communication skills

Many professional roles rely on strong communication skills. They help you interact with your coworkers, managers, and clients. A good way to improve your communication skills is to meet and talk to new people or improve your existing relationships. Examples of short-term goals that improve communication skills could be asking friends you haven't seen in a while out to lunch or practicing active listening with your family. Seek feedback from people you trust about ways you can improve your communication.

Related: How To Improve Communication Skills

13. Create another stream of income

Having multiple streams of income is a great way to improve your finances and professional life. This is a great way to save for your future and give yourself more freedom with the money you earn from your career. Consider your skills and knowledge and how you can pursue another stream of income. For example, if you are a good writer, perhaps you can freelance write in your spare time. If you have a strong background in math or economics, try investing.

14. Read more

Another effective way to improve your knowledge is by reading more. Consider non-fiction books from leaders in your industry. A great short-term goal example could be to read one job-related book a month or a relevant article every week. Even reading for pleasure is a great short-term professional goal, as it can lower stress and help you create a good work-life balance.

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