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There is a well-known quote that states: “A dream written down with a date becomes a GOAL. A goal broken down into steps becomes a PLAN. A plan backed by ACTION makes your dreams come true.”
We can make a wish and add the hope that fate makes the wish come true… but we will likely be disappointed. Goals allow us to take the fulfillment of wishes into our own hands.
We can accomplish the biggest of things when we create goals. Let's take a look at the biggest kind of goals we can achieve.
What Are Long-term Goals?
Long-term goals are those that take at least three years to accomplish. Many of them will take five, ten, or more years. These are the kinds of goals that allow us to reach our biggest dreams.
These are the goals that lead us to become who we want to be in life, work our dream job, and eventually leave behind the things we want to be our legacy. Long-term goals are the ones that are essential for creating a path to travel through life.
Tips for Setting Long-Term Goals
Setting long-term goals is important because they give you direction. They help you keep going when you feel like giving up.
Students, in particular, often have bad days when they've failed a test they studied hard for… or just simply feel lost as to where they want to go after they graduate.
Having long-term goals helps them get through those times and gives them the motivation to keep moving forward. Long-term goals help give your life purpose.
There is no one correct way to set a long-term goal, but there are several things that do need to be in place to make reaching that goal possible. One of the first things you need to know is why you want to achieve a goal.
Without having a reason, you lose interest and may easily become distracted. Let's take a look at how you go about setting long-term goals to increase the chances of reaching them.
Long-Term Goals Examples for Students
1. Publish an article in an academic journal before graduation
“I will publish an article in an academic journal in my chosen field before I graduate.”
Being published not only looks great on your resume, but it also looks favorable if you are applying to a higher institution. It helps get you started on being considered an expert in your field and is often a prerequisite for becoming a professor at many institutes of higher learning.
2. Get into law school.
“I want to get accepted into law school upon graduation, so I can pursue a career as a criminal lawyer.”
This goal includes the goal and the reason. It lends itself well to several mid-term goals and even short-term goals. This goal is completely achievable and is relevant enough to keep you motivated. It is also easily measured in terms of knowing when you achieve the goal.
3. Save enough for a home down payment.
“I will save enough money to make a decent down payment on my own home by the time I graduate.”
Many people have dreams of owning their own homes. By starting to save while in school, you have a huge head start. This goal will require budgeting and working while studying. This goal helps you achieve in other areas as well because time management and budgeting are both things that carry into many areas of our lives.
4. Graduate with a 3.0 GPA.
“I will graduate with a 3.0 GPA.”
This is a great long-term goal to take in your beginning year. It gives you a goal that is reachable and has many checkpoints along the way. It also opens itself up to a variety of short-term goals, as well as a couple of mid-term goals. When making this goal, it is important to be specific about exactly what actions you will need to take to achieve the goal.
5. Study abroad for a year.
“I will apply to study abroad for one year in order to expand my knowledge and begin to see the world and enjoy other cultures.”
Travelling is always a fun goal. Studying abroad offers opportunities to travel, grow personally, learn a new language, and more. It also looks great on graduate school applications and resumes. This goal also lends itself to working toward shorter-term goals that will keep you motivated.
6. Get an internship.
“I want to get an internship before the end of my senior year.”
This is a goal that will require you to research what internships are available and then find out what they require. You can then create shorter-term goals that include meeting the requirements and applying for various positions. An internship is something good to strive for in that it aids in your resume and helps gain connections as well as experience.
7. Work as a veterinarian for zoo animals.
I want to work as a veterinarian that specializes in caring for zoo animals once I finish my education.”
This is a long-term goal that will take quite some time to accomplish and must definitely be broken down into several mid-term goals. You could make it even more specific by listing the location of the zoo you deem the ideal job. This would allow you to find out what they require in a vet and what animals they have. This could help you focus on learning all you can about those animals in advance.
8. Gain a position at X Company.
“My ultimate goal is to find a management position within X Company because they are the leading company in my field and they offer the best employee benefits.”
Everyone has a dream job. If you are drawn to a particular company, it helps to know as soon as possible what they expect in an employee. You will normally start at the bottom, so a medium-term goal might be to get hired by the said company.
9. Start saving for retirement.
“I want to start a special savings account that is earmarked specifically for retirement so that I am in a position to retire by the time I am 55.”
It may seem strange to start planning for retirement when you are still in school, but starting early can help you avoid working into your 70s, giving you a chance to do things like travel.
Another thing that can tie in with this goal is getting a position with a pension plan right out of school. You will have thirty years in by the time you are 55. That pension, coupled with savings will definitely make early retirement a thing.
10. Join a volunteer fire department.
“I want to get my firefighting certificate so I can join the local volunteer fire department and help give back to the community.”
This may not fit in with your major, but it looks great on resumes and future applications for continuing education. It also gives you personal satisfaction that can help with personal long-term goals you may have.
11. Join the Peace Corps.
“Upon graduation, I want to join the Peace Corps in order to bring my skills to areas of the world that can benefit from what I know.”
This is a goal that requires a lot of planning in order to focus on the skills that will be needed. It also requires a certain mastering of the skills you want to offer and a need to learn about certain cultures in advance, including a possible new language, in order to best communicate with those who live in the area you want to work.
12. Graduate with no student debt.
“When I graduate, I want to be free of any student loans. I can manage this by winning scholarships and working in the evenings and on weekends.”
This goal also requires needing to be able to manage time and budget, skills that will follow you throughout your life. It also requires being able to keep up with your studies if you plan on using scholarship money to help finance your education.
13. Hold public office.
“I am aiming to hold not just public office, but a higher position of Governor or Senator, by the time I am in my 40s.”
This is a very long-term goal that requires preparing for now as things like education and career path will all be determined. You will also need to keep up-to-date on what is of concern to the general population. You will also need to hone your public speaking skills. All of these middle-term goals will help you track your progress and keep you focused.
14. Win a scholarship.
“I want to win a scholarship to help me be able to pay for my education and to add another award to my resume.”
This may be seen as a medium-term goal, but that will depend on how soon you want this to happen. Its achievement will have long-lasting effects, however, and it will require reaching several shorter-term goals in order to make it happen.
15. Become a professor in my field.
“Becoming a tenured professor in my field is my career goal. In order to achieve this, I need to focus on becoming as well-educated in my field as possible, including continued education of achieving a Ph.D.”
This long-term goal actually involves a few other long-term goals and will definitely need to be broken down into many steps. These steps could include publishing a book or several trade-specific articles, getting a Ph.D., and gaining teaching experience at different educational levels.
16. Get a Ph.D.
“I want to earn my Ph.D. within the next ten years.”
It is important to determine the reason for this goal as soon as you can because it will help you set the medium-term and short-term goals that will serve as progress monitoring and determine the ultimate route you will take to make this happen.
17. Start my own business.
“I want to start my own computer repair business upon graduation and grow it into the top-rated one in my area within five years of opening.”
This goal gives a good start because it lists what, why, and when. It also has a built-in measurement of the final destination. What is needed now is to break it down into smaller steps that have a clear path to this end.
18. Become a recognized expert in my field.
“I want to become a recognized expert in my field, including having achieved special recognition and having a book and speaking career.”
This goal includes at least three long-term goals that you may want to determine individual achievement dates for reaching. It is a good example of how it is necessary to rank your goals by priority so that you do not become overwhelmed and have a much more defined path to follow.
19. Perform on Broadway.
“Five years from now, I want to be singing the lead part in a Broadway play.”
This is a great long-term goal for a high school student as it would require setting goals even earlier to practice and take lessons, and perform. This also can lead to a medium-term goal of getting accepted to a performing arts school rather than a traditional university.
20. Get my pilot's license for fun.
“I want to get my pilot's license so I can enjoy recreational flying in my own plane whenever the mood strikes.”
This goal also includes the long-term goal of buying your own plane, but is actually not a separate one because they are so intertwined. When setting shorter-term goals to determine your path, take both goals into consideration.
21. Invent something that changes lives for the better.
“I want to invent something that makes life easier for people who have mobility issues and can't access places with viewing spots being higher than a wheelchair level, such as zoos and museums.”
This is very specific except for having a time frame in which to get it accomplished. Many people who rely on wheelchairs have trouble in crowded spaces because they can't see through a crowd or they can't view the displays in other places because the chair is too low.
22. Become a dynamic public speaker.
“Seven years from now, I want to hone my public skills to the point where the audience is totally entranced and that people keep my public speaking schedule full at least three days a week.”
Most people fear speaking in public, so this goal is something that is rare. However, those who want to be self-help gurus or politicians, or lawyers, need to have extraordinary speaking skills that are able to capture an audience and compel them to act. It also helps to learn people-reading skills, so you can read the audience.
23. Create a stellar resume that gets me hired anywhere.
“I want to create a resume so stellar that companies are seeking me out to offer me positions and I have my choice of the best there is.”
This is a long-term goal that will require the individual to seek opportunities to excel regularly. It will also require showing you are a well-rounded person who can adapt to many situations.
24. Write a best-selling book.
“I want to write a best-selling book that is considered the go-to book in my field as well as the standard for laypersons who want to learn more in this area.”
Writing a book can take a few months or several years. Writing one with the above requirements can take many, many years and requires many years of honing knowledge as well as gaining a following.
25. Become a MOF (Meilleur Ouvier de France)
“My aim is to receive the prestigious honor of Meilleur de France (MOF) by the time I reach forty.”
This highest designation for French chefs will require many years of study under top French chefs. It will include moving to France and becoming the head chef of either a top restaurant or starting your own restaurant that reaches three stars.
26. Build a sanctuary for dogs.
“I want to build a 500-acre sanctuary for abused and unwanted dogs. The sanctuary will allow for areas designed for maternity care, elderly care, and a full medical center.”
This is an ambitious goal that is going to require not only money but also qualified staff members to run the place. It would help to include a date to work towards, as there will be a need to have an achievement point.
27. Learn to flip houses.
“I will learn to flip houses in order to make my living doing this. I want my first house ready within 5 years and then plan on 4 houses a year until I reach financial independence.”
This is a great goal in that it says what and why, as well as includes a first house date as a check-in point. It also includes what the ultimate destination is.
28. Create a powerful network in my field.
“I want to grow a network of top contenders in my field within ten years.”
This is something that is highly achievable as long as you create a list of who these top contenders are and how you plan on making connections. It would help to know why you want this.
29. Get a dual degree.
“I want to get a dual degree in both Sociology and Political Science within four years.”
This is a great goal for someone who wants to work in a profession that helps create public policies as it will enable you to take into account the effect on people as a whole.
30. Get married and start a family.
“Ten years from now, I want to be married and have three children.”
This goal will have a lot to do with the actions of other people, but is a great one for those who are willing to work on their inner selves now, so they bring their best to the table.
31. Work for changes in the criminal justice system.
“I want to develop my career around making positive changes within the justice system. This will start with creating better solutions for those with mental health issues.”
This is a goal that very well takes a lifetime. Starting now, getting an education in Sociology, Psychology, and Criminal Justice are all options. The medium-term goals you set in place will greatly determine your path on this one.
Final Thoughts on Long-Term Goals
By creating long-term goals, you are sending a message to yourself that you believe in yourself and are worthy of getting what you wish for. The good news is… it’s not too hard and never too late to start, thanks to the many goal-setting and tracking apps.
Long-term goals keep you on track and can also provide a way to make sure your life is balanced. Be sure to create goals in the various areas of your life so that nothing you desire falls to the wayside. Those dreams need direction and you have the power to navigate them!
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.