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We’ve talked a lot about your long-term goals and your short-term goals, but what about goals that fall somewhere in between?
Your bigger life goals can feel overwhelming without breaking them down into manageable pieces–which can cause you to lose momentum and possibly give up because the payoff feels so far away. But, it’s also challenging to divide a long-term goal into so many short-term goals without having something in the middle.
In this article, we will start by looking at what intermediate goals are and how they can be your stepping stones to reach your ultimate vision. Then we will review 15 examples of intermediate goals so you can see how you can apply them to your life.
But first, let’s start by looking at a definition of an intermediate goal.
What is an Intermediate Goal?
You have to know where (or in what state) you want to end up in to have goals. What does your destination look like? To keep your goals manageable, it helps to break them down into short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals.
Everyone has intermediate goals, but most of us don’t track them as much as we do our short- and long-term goals. But this mistake can cause us to get derailed.
Here is a breakdown of each type of goal and their unique value:
The downside of long-term goals is that their payoff is so far away from the present moment that working on them can feel daunting instead of exciting. However, achieving your intermediate goals helps you feel like you’re making progress toward these bigger milestones. Since it’s easy to lose motivation or get mentally fatigued when working toward your long-term goals, having intermediate goals will help encourage you to keep your momentum going.
As a bridge between your short- and long-term goals, you should be able to make noticeable progress on your intermediate goals every few months or so. They should align with your long term goals in a way that whenever you accomplish an intermediate goal, you will be one step closer to reaching your long-term goal, which means achieving these goals deserves a reward!
Let’s take a look at 15 examples of intermediate goals that you can expect to achieve in the next year or so.
15 Intermediate Goals Examples to Set for the Next Year
1. Pay Off Debt
SMART Goal: To help me reach my goal of becoming completely debt-free, I will pay off my car loan within the next year.
Living debt-free is a great long-term financial goal, but you have to take the necessary steps to get there. Whether it’s a car loan or some significant debt you’ve accrued on a credit card, paying off a loan in its entirety is a productive intermediate goal to set to help you make progress toward your larger financial goals.
2. Hold a Leadership Position
SMART Goal: I will secure a leadership position of some sort at work by the end of this year to increase my chances of getting promoted in the future.
This may look like a lot of different things depending upon your profession, but if you can be proactive in taking on a leadership role for a new project or even offering to be a mentor to new hires, you can demonstrate to your higher-ups that you have the necessary skills to lead a group to success.
3. Write a Book
SMART Goal: To reach my goal of establishing myself as an expert in my field, I will have my first book published within the next 12 months to demonstrate my knowledge.
A big part of becoming an expert is getting your name out there for others to see, and having your name on a published book is a good way for people to regard you as an authority on a topic. While social media makes it relatively easy to create and market a personal brand, it still takes a decent amount of time and effort to get people to recognize your name.
As an emerging expert, take pride in sharing your knowledge and skills with others. Offer your unique ideas to spark conversation or inspire people to think differently about the topic at hand. Don’t be afraid to draw attention to your point-of-view–people will appreciate what you have to say if it makes them think in new ways.
4. Early Retirement
SMART Goal: To help meet my goal of retiring by the time I’m 45, I will put 50% of my income into a retirement account for the next year.
Many people want to retire before the conventional age of 65 in order to travel, spend time with family, and do more of the activities that they enjoy. While your goal numbers may vary as you see fit, it’s important to have intermediate goals when you’re aiming to achieve a long-term goal of retiring early.
5. Learn a Skill
SMART Goal: By this time next year, I will be fluent in Spanish so I can diversify my employable skills and stay competitive in the job market, which will ultimately help me land my dream job working abroad.
Many companies serve a global market these days, which means they prefer to hire employees who can speak more than one language. The more people you can communicate with, the better of an asset you become to the team. If a position comes down to two prospective employees with equal education and experience, but only one who is bilingual–that applicant will likely get the job offer.
Plus, being bilingual can offer some leverage to advocate for earning up to 20% more money than if you only speak one language.
6. Improve Your Credit Score
SMART Goal: I will improve my credit score by 100 points by this time next year to increase my chance of securing a loan for a $350,000 mortgage at a lower interest rate than I could with my current credit score.
Having good credit can impact several areas of your everyday life. Your credit score helps determine whether or not you qualify for loans and credit cards, which can allow (or prevent) you from financing large purchases with relatively low interest rates. If you have bad credit, it can impact some of life’s necessities, such as:
The average credit score in America is 711, which is measured in a range of 300 to 850. The higher your credit scores, the easier (and less expensive) it will be to do things like secure a mortgage loan.
7. Grow Your Personal Business
SMART Goal: In order to grow my business, I will develop a new product or service to offer my customers within the next year.
This is a great intermediate goal for small business owners to avoid becoming stagnant. If you continue to offer the same products or services every single year, you’re allowing your more innovative competitors to have a huge advantage.
But before developing something new, you will need to do research on how you can better serve your target market without straying from your company’s core purpose or values. This requires developing a well-written value proposition that communicates the value of the new product/feature/service to consumers in a crystal clear way.
8. Do Well in School
SMART Goal: I will finish this academic year with a 4.0 GPA to help increase my chances of getting hired directly out of college.
If you have a dream job in mind for your long-term goal, one big step you would have to take to get there would be to get a high-quality education. Showing potential employers that you’re a hard worker and have achieved positive outcomes in school can give you an advantage over the competition.
Employers often look for unique traits that differentiate candidates from one another, and having a 4.0 GPA can certainly help you stand out from other excellent candidates.
9. Fall in Love
SMART Goal: In the interest of starting a family in the next five years, I will proactively meet and spend time with new people in the hopes of falling in love within the next year.
Declaring that you will make a conscious effort to meet people and go on dates for the next 12 months is a reasonable step to take if your long-term goal is to have a family in the next five years. While this isn’t something that you necessarily have full control over, you can control your actions related to opening yourself up to the opportunity to fall in love.
10. Family Goals
SMART Goal: In an effort to build healthy, sustainable relationships within the family and create family traditions, I will plan a family vacation that everyone will enjoy by the end of the year.
Taking family vacations will help you create lifelong memories, and if you don’t take that first trip while your family is young, you may settle into a routine that never takes you out of your hometown. If you have a long-term goal of preserving a close bond with your family, cut out some time to plan a vacation so your family can have some time to open your minds together to new places, experiences, and cultures.
11. Go Back to School
SMART Goal: With the intention of changing careers, by this time next year, I will be accepted into a degree program that more closely aligns with my passions.
Studies have found that about one-third of Americans completely change fields at some point in their career. This isn’t too surprising, considering it’s tough to know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life at the age of 18 when you’re thinking about your first college major.
The tough part is not becoming complacent in a field you’re not passionate about and taking the scary step of giving up your income for a few years to accrue some student loan debt. Planning this out, both financially and logistically, is a significant goal in itself.
12. Earn a Certification
SMART Goal: Within the next year, I will earn a professional certification that is related to my career on Coursera or a similar online platform to enhance my employability.
Companies promote and hire employees based on their relevant experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities. Specific certifications encourage employees to define their niche within their profession, enhance their competence with up-to-date practices, and show their willingness to continue to grow within their field.
Getting a certification will help you achieve better results and advance your organization’s success. Plus, with more certifications, you can continuously build upon your resume, which will help you stand out from the other applicants for any given professional position.
(Check out this post about smart goals for administrative assistants if you're looking to improve your skills.)
13. Run a Half-Marathon
SMART Goal: In order to qualify for and ultimately run the Boston Marathon, I will complete two marathons this year, finishing the first in under three hours and forty minutes and the second in under 3 hours and 30 minutes.
The Boston Marathon is unlike others in that it has very competitive qualifying times. To qualify for this race, one has to show that they’ve completed a marathon in under a set time for their demographic.
To achieve this, one would need to gradually increase their running speed through practice. Running two marathons would offer enough information for you to adjust your training schedule to help you meet the qualifying time.
14. Buy a House
SMART Goal: I will save $10,000 within the next year to be able to put a down payment on my first home.
Figure out how much money you’ll need to put aside after your bills are paid each month to reach your target savings goal. Then, decide what short-term goals you will need to make to do this, such as limiting the number of meals you eat out per week, finding local events that are free, and considering other money-saving techniques. The good news is, there are a lot of resources out there that can help with this type of intermediate goal.
15. Monetize Your Hobby
SMART Goal: I will turn my hobby into a side business by the end of next year so I can work toward turning my passion into my full-time career.
If you want to step away from the everyday 9-5 corporate culture, you’ll need to start somewhere. Side hustles are common for those who want to attain financial independence, and if you’re going to put something else on your plate, might as well do something that you’re intrinsically motivated to do.
Whether you use your creativity to make art that you can sell online or you are especially talented at graphic design and you want to offer personalized services, most people have some kind of hobby that offers a good opportunity to make money.
Final Thoughts on Intermediate Goals
Ultimately, whether or not you succeed when working toward a goal comes down to why you want to accomplish the goal. Your reason behind creating the goal in the first place must be strong enough to keep pulling you towards that next step.
If your reasons are meaningful enough to you, you will be able to use your short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals to be successful. Consider the examples laid out in this article and see how you can apply them to your own life and vision.
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.
Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.