Chapter 2: Career Goals

2.3 Timely Goals

Time Frames for Goals

Your path to long-term success also means breaking down your goals into manageable pieces. When you chunk your goals into short, medium, and long-term, you can chain them together. What starts with taking a work-integrated learning class today turns into job experience in the area you want to work into could eventually turn into your dream career. To get from your schooling today to your career in the future, you need to be able to plan out the steps and stages you need to pass through to get where you want to go.

  • Long-term goals are those big milestones in your life. The big things that you strive for in your career, finances, personal relationships, and education. These goals will usually take five to twenty years (or more) to accomplish and can include marriage, a professional designation, a doctorate degree, a family, a financially secure retirement, or travel. These will be the answers to big questions like what do I want to accomplish in my life?
  • Mid-term goals are things that you can usually accomplish within one to five years. They could be completing your degree, buying a house or a car, or achieving a benchmark career-wise such as obtaining a certain kind of job or level at a job. Usually, these goals will help you obtain your long-term goals. They work toward them like building blocks.
  • Short-term goals are smaller but equally important. The time frame for these goals is usually a year or less. These are things that you will need to act on quickly to achieve. They may include completing a course or semester of courses, getting a work-integrated learning experience, finding a new apartment, or organizing an event like your dad’s 50th birthday party.

It’s a good idea to have a mix of all three of these types of goals in mind. Someone once told me to set 9 goals and write them somewhere visual. One or two of these should be long-term goals, 3-4 mid-term goals, a few short-term goals, and one goal that you will accomplish and feel proud of in the next month.

Setting and achieving goals helps to build confidence in yourself and your abilities.


Review the following goals and identify whether they would be long-, mid-, or short-term goals.

  1. Climb Mount Robson this summer with friends. This is a             -term goal
  2. Graduate from the Social Work program at CNC in 2023. This is a            -term goal.
  3. Travel home to India in 2025 to visit my family. This is a            -term goal.
  4. Retire with a full pension at age 65 (I am 25 how). This is a            -term goal.
  5. Pass my Chemistry course with a B+. This is a            -term goal.
  6. Become a millionaire by age 60 (I am 20 now). This is a            -term goal.

Evaluating Your Career Goals

This chapter both starts and ends with reflection. You need to have a good sense of where you want to go when you start planning for a career. However, you also need to know that plans change and goals can change, too. Your life will involve a number of shifting priorities and goals. You will also encounter setbacks and roadblocks along the way.

As you move toward your career goals, never stop reflecting and evaluating. As you meet each of your short and medium term goals, use these successes as opportunities for reflection.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I still on track to achieve my goal?
  • Have my priorities changed?
  • Does my timeframe still make sense?
  • Are there other opportunities I want to pursue?
  • Is my goal still realistic, relevant and attainable?

Key Takeaways

  • Self-evaluate to learn more about yourself and research potential career aspirations before you set career goals.
  • Develop goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, relevant and time-bound.
  • Make a path to your long term goal by establish short and mid-term goals.
  • Keep evaluating your progress and revising your goals as you work toward achieving them.


Business Development Bank of Canada. (2021). Entrepreneurial potential assessment. Business Development Bank of Canada.

Government of Canada. (2021a). Career quizzes and tests. Job Bank.

Government of Canada. (2021b). Explore an occupation. Job Bank.

Indeed (2021). BC mental health jobs (with salaries!). Indeed.

Lexico. (2021). Goal. Lexico Dictionary.

Ontario Community Mental Health (2018, January). Careers.

WorkBC (2021). Career search tool. WorkBC.


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Getting Ready for Work-Integrated Learning Copyright © 2022 by Deb Nielsen; Emily Ballantyne; Faatimah Murad; and Melissa Fournier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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