Lao-Tzu, the Chinese philosopher said, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." So it is with short-term career goals; in order to realize your long-term vision of eventual success, you must first accomplish the myriad of immediate, realistic tasks right in front of you.
One short-term goal for your career should be to remove obstacles getting in the way of your long-term goals. For instance, if you’re a working mother with the long-term career goal of owning your own catering business, your short-term goals might read as follows: "Find reliable babysitter to keep the kids while I create a solid business plan, pay off credit card debt to increase my chances of getting a small business loan, increase hours at work to start putting money aside for seed capital." Choose short-term goals that will help knock down any barriers between you and long-term success.
Since short-term career goals ultimately prepare you for sustained success, one of your short-term goals should be to gain as much experience in your intended field as possible. Don’t limit yourself to paid opportunities only; unpaid internships, volunteer positions, workshops, seminars and retreats can all provide valuable info that can help your career in the long-term.
Furthering your education should be on your list of short-term career goals, since most lucrative careers require some sort of advanced schooling. Even if you don’t presently have the time or resources to return to school, list the steps you’ll need to take to get yourself back on track. These might include finding out if your job offers tuition assistance or reimbursement, researching academic scholarships in your field, gathering your transcripts from the other schools you’ve attended, or simply searching for schools in your area that offer the courses you need.
No matter how vast your talents, acquiring a variety of skills is only half the battle in terms of career success. You will also need to cultivate a strong, positive professional reputation, so that -- based on what they’ve heard -- potential employers will want to give you the opportunity to display your brilliance. To that end, one of your short-term career goals should be to infuse excellence, integrity and a hunger for knowledge in all that you do, from busing tables in a busy restaurant to instructing our own catering staff on how to handle a busy crowd. Even if you’re in an entry-level position, you can begin to create a positive reputation by always arriving at work on time, handling your duties in a quick and efficient manner, displaying conflict resolution skills, being a team-player, and providing service with a smile to customers and colleagues alike.
Acquiring as many professional networks and contacts is another short-term career goal that can be extremely beneficial in the long run. Attend job fairs, informational meetings and training sessions to meet like-minded people in your field; you can also find them on social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Keep in mind that career success doesn’t only hinge on what you know -- who you know also matters a great deal.