What Are Long-Term Goals? (With Types, Examples and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 4 September 2022

Published 6 December 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 goals is a way to help you make progress in your professional and personal life. Working towards long-term goals typically requires . commitment and perseverance.

Understanding how to set long-term objectives may be useful as you advance in your career. In this article, we explore what long-term objectives are with examples, show you how to set effective goals and provide tips on how to answer interview questions about long-term goals.

What are long-term goals?

Long-term goals are what you aim to achieve in the future in your career and personal life. Long-term aims require a significant amount of time to accomplish, usually a year or more. This differs from short-term goals, which may be achievable within weeks or months.

Several short-term goals may be part of a long-term objective. For example, if your long-term goal is to earn a licence or certification related to your work, you may complete a few short-term goals first, such as a series of training courses. This may help you stay motivated over time as you work towards more attainable short-term goals.

Types of long-term objectives

There are different types of long-term objectives or goals. These goals sometimes overlap between your professional and personal life. For instance, financial goals relate closely to career goals. If you advance to more senior positions at work, you may earn a higher salary and have the means to achieve personal financial goals, such as buying a house.

Here are some types of long-term objectives:

  • Career goals: Career goals are what you want to achieve in your job in the long term. You may aim to rise to a management position, move towards a different career path or start your own business.

  • Professional goals: Professional goals relate to improving your skills so that you can better achieve your career goals. For example, you may complete a degree or certification to improve your prospects of getting a promotion.

  • Financial goals: Financial goals refer to monetary achievements. Some examples of long-term financial goals are buying a property or saving for retirement.

  • Personal goals: Personal goals are what you desire to achieve in your personal life. These may include targets such as starting a family or maintaining hobbies or interests.

Related: Examples of Short-term Goals to Improve Your Career

Examples of long-term objectives

Here are some examples of long-term objectives:

  • I want to get promoted to a management position within the next ten years.

  • I want to purchase my first property by the time I turn 30.

  • I want to own a business within the next five years.

  • I want to earn a master's degree before I turn 35.

  • I want to transition to my dream career path within the next four years.

  • I want to start a family within the next three years.

  • I want to set aside enough money to retire at 65.

  • I want to travel to at least 10 destinations after I retire.

Related: What Are Some Common Career Development Goals Examples

Why is setting long-term objectives important?

Setting long-term aims can help you keep track of your professional and personal development and motivate you to succeed. As you develop your career, long-term objectives may help you stay on track and remain focused. They are also a measure of your progress and may drive you to achieve your potential.

Effective long-term goals have several characteristics. If your goals are specific, measurable and relevant, they are likely to be more achievable. Knowing how to set good work goals is important for career advancement. Here's a closer look at the qualities of effective long-term aims:

  • Specific: Specific goals are simple and provide concrete steps to follow through. When you define your goals clearly, you have a better idea of how to achieve them.

  • Measurable: Effective goals are measurable and quantifiable. Goals that specify measurable targets allow you to track your progress.

  • Attainable: Attainable goals refer to what you can achieve with your resources and capabilities. Goals are more manageable if they are realistic.

  • Relevant: Relevant goals align with your ideal career path. They support your long-term career objectives.

  • Time-bound: Goals that specify deadlines and a time frame to achieve targets are more effective. They allow you to prioritise and stay focused.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition, Template and Examples

Tips for setting long-term objectives

Once you have identified your long-term objectives, develop a plan to work towards them. Consider the steps to take and account for potential obstacles. Long-term aims may change along the way, so it's important to adjust the plan when needed. Here are some tips you can use to set goals for the future:

Evaluate your present situation

When setting goals, a good starting point is to evaluate your present situation. Review your current situation and visualise where you want to be five or 10 years from now. For example, if you're in an entry-level role now, you may visualise yourself in a key management position within the next 10 years. Set your goals and identify the steps to achieve these goals.

Devise an action plan

An action plan with measurable objectives can help you stay focused as you embark on achieving your goals. It also breaks down the objective into a series of short-term goals. For instance, if you aim to hold a management position in the long term, identify steps to earn a promotion to become a manager first. This may involve going back to school to gain more qualifications.

Related: How to Make a Career Plan and Set Career Goals (With Benefits)

Identify challenges along the way

A good action plan considers potential challenges or obstacles as you work towards your long-term objectives. Identify these challenges where possible and think about how you can overcome them. Long-term objectives require commitment. Limited resources may mean forgoing some other short-term goals. For example, if you plan to save enough to buy your first property, other short-term goals such as owning luxury goods may be less important.

Write your goals and share them

Put your short-term goals in writing so that you can gauge if you're moving in the right direction. For instance, if you're in sales, you may have monthly or quarterly targets to reach. If you exceed these targets, you may expect a promotion. Share your goals with people whom you can trust and seek their encouragement. Allow them to motivate you as you work towards your long-term aims.

Related: How to Set Personal Development Goals (Plus Benefits and Tips)

Adjust your plans when necessary

Long-term objectives have a long time frame. As circumstances change, adjust your plans where necessary. It may be useful to review your road map periodically and update it with additional steps to keep it relevant. Focus on the end goals and maintain a positive attitude as you deal with challenges along the way.

Tips on answering interview questions about long-term objectives

Whether you're looking for a new job or transitioning to another position within the company, potential employers sometimes ask what your long-term goals are during job interviews. They want to know if you're a good fit for the position and the organisation. They may also want to assess if you are goal-oriented and committed. Here are some tips you can use to answer questions about your long-term career goals:

Keep your objectives relevant to the job

Keep the discussion relevant by discussing long-term aims that relate to the job you're interviewing for. If you aim to move into a senior position within a certain time frame, explain why your work performance can meet or exceed expectations. Discuss how you intend to earn the promotion and how you can add value to the organisation.

Read more: Interview Question: 'What Are Your Long-Term Career Goals?'

Discuss the action plan for achieving your long-term objectives

When you share your long-term objectives with interviewers, highlight the steps to achieve them. Potential employers may want to know your aspirations and whether you have the confidence to accomplish them. Keep your action plan realistic and outline how you intend to meet your goals. For example, you may plan to go back to school to gain the relevant qualification or certification so that you meet the requirement for a promotion.

Related: Career Goals: How to Set, Examples and Tips for Achieving

Align your goals with the company's goals

Before attending the interview, research the company's goals and direction. Align your goals with the company's goals and talk about how you can contribute to the process. For instance, a company may move towards digital transformation. If your long-term goal is to master the relevant skills and become certified in the digital field, your goals may then resonate with the company's goals.

Keep your goals realistic

Whether you're in an entry-level or mid-career role, keep your goals realistic. When discussing your previous work experience, talk about how you met your goals and dealt with obstacles. If you're switching career paths and starting from entry-level in another field, set realistic goals that match your experience.

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