An intermediate goal is an objective that is intended to be achieved within a span of 6 months to five years (Daw, 2015). It sits between a short-term goal and a long-term goal, bridging the gap between the two.
Think of these goals as important milestones on the journey toward the achievement of your long-term vision.
These are typically more specific and require more planning and resources than short-term goals, but are not as complex or time intensive as long-term goals.
For example, if a long-term goal is to obtain a higher level of education (like earning a Ph.D. degree), an intermediate goal may be to complete a master’s degree in the same field.
How to set SMART Intermediate Goals
Today, we’re going to set SMART goals. This is a goalsetting framework that helps us to create clear, well-structured, and well-considered goals. Here’s what the S.M.A.R.T acronym stands for:
- Specific: Your goals need to be specific. Make sure you don’t leave any ambiguity at all. Explain what it looks like specifically to achieve your goal. Specific goals are more likely to be achieved (Milne, Orbell & Sheeran, 2002).
- Measurable: How will you measure progress? You need to be able to pause and assess along the way, such as once a month, to see if you’ve made progress and are on track.
- Achievable: If your stated objective isn’t achievable within the intermediate timeframe, you might need to push that out to a long-term goal, and set a more achievable intermediate objective.
- Relevant: The intermediate goal needs to be relevant to your long-term objectives, meaning it needs to be a stepping stone along that path toward your future goals.
- Time-Based: Set a deadline. As these goals are intermediate, ensure it’s between six months and five years from now. (If your goal will take longer, consider looking at my guides on 5-year goals and 10-year goals).
At the end of the article, I have a SMART goals template that you can have for yourself – edit it, print it, and turn the following ideas for intermediate goals into true SMART goals!
Intermediate Goals Examples
1. Gain Specialized Skills: Over the next year, I will acquire specialized skills relevant to my career by enrolling in online certification courses.
2. Network Expansion: Over the next two years, I’ll expand my professional network by attending at least one industry conference each year and initiating connections with at least five new professionals at each event.
3. Earn a Promotion: In the next three years, I plan to earn a promotion to a higher level at my current job by consistently meeting and surpassing my performance goals.
4. Get Certified: Over the next year, I will study for and successfully pass the certification exam that corresponds with my career (such as PMP for project managers).
5. Lead a Project: Within the next two years, I aim to prove my leadership abilities by successfully pitching and spearheading a new initiative in my department.
6. Improve Public Speaking Skills: Over the next year, I plan to improve my public speaking skills by joining a local toastmasters club and giving speeches regularly.
7. Secure a Mentor: Within the next six months, I plan on finding a mentor within my field to provide guidance and career advice.
8. Improve Work Efficiency: Over the next year, I will enhance my productivity by improving my organization and time management skills, aiming to cut down on idle time at work by at least 20%.
9. Increase Client Base: In the next two to three years, I will focus on deepening client relationships and attracting new clients to increase my client base by 30%.
10. Masters Degree Pursuit: If it’s relevant and beneficial in your career field, plan to commence a part-time Master’s degree in the next two years to enhance your professional qualifications.
See Also: Long-Term Career Goals Examples
11. Bulk Up Emergency Savings: Over the next two years, I plan to build up an emergency savings account equal to six months of living expenses.
12. Pay Down Credit Card Debt: Within a year, I plan to pay off a specific credit card by making regular, timely payments that exceed the minimum payment criteria.
13. Increase Retirement Savings: Over the next three years, my goal is to incrementally increase my retirement contributions by 1% each year.
14. Lower Unnecessary Expenses: For the next year, I will examine and cut down on unnecessary expenses to save an extra $100 each month.
15. Save for a Major Purchase: Over the next three years, I aim to save enough for a down payment on a major investment, such as a car or home.
16. Improve Credit Score: In the next two years, my target is to improve my credit score by 30 points through timely bill payments and debt reduction.
17. Diversify Investments: Over the next three years, I’ll diversify my investment portfolio by investing in three different kinds of assets such as stocks, bonds, or real estate.
18. Generate Passive Income: In the next two years, I will work towards developing a source of passive income, possibly through rental property or online business.
19. Create a Budget and Stick to It: My six-month goal is to create a realistic budget and abide by it consistently to realize measurable savings as evidenced by monthly savings account statements.
20. Secure Life Insurance: In the next six months, I plan on purchasing a life insurance policy to ensure financial security for my loved ones in the event of my untimely demise.
21. Graduate with Honors: Over the next two years, my goal is to graduate with honors by maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or above in all semesters.
22. Complete a Certification Course: In the next year, I plan to enhance my professional skills by completing a well-regarded certification course in my field.
23. Master a Foreign Language: Over the next two years, I will achieve proficiency in a foreign language by taking regular classes and practicing daily.
24. Contribute to a Group Project: Within the next semester, I aim to contribute significantly to a group project, resulting in a shared high grade and increased team collaboration skills.
25. Secure an Internship: In the next year, I intend to secure an internship in my field of study to complement my academic knowledge with practical experience.
26. Improve Public Speaking Abilities: Over the next year, I commit to improving my public speaking abilities by enrolling in a public speaking class and presenting in front of groups at least twice per quarter.
27. Research and Write a Paper: Within the next two semesters, I will research and write a paper that gets published in the college journal.
28. Attend Academic Conferences: Over the next year, I commit to attending at least three academic conferences relevant to my major to expand my knowledge and network.
29. Improve Academic Writing Skills: Within the next semester, I aim to improve my academic writing skills by attending extra writing workshops and incorporating feedback from my professors.
30. Start a Master’s Degree Program: My 5-year goal is to score highly on entrance exams (like the GRE or GMAT) and secure admission to a respected master’s degree program in my field of interest.
See Also: Educational Goals Examples
31. Visit New Continents: In the next three years, I plan to visit at least two continents that I have never been to before.
32. Experience a World Wonder: Within the next two years, I aim to visit one of the Seven Wonders of the World, such as the Great Wall of China.
33. Learn Scuba Diving: Within the next year, I wish to complete a scuba diving certification course and go on at least one dive.
34. Do a Cross-Country Road Trip: Next summer, I plan to go on a cross-country road trip, covering a carefully chosen list of attractions and cities.
35. Volunteer Abroad: In the next two years, I have set a goal to volunteer abroad, possibly in a conservation project or in a community development initiative.
36. Climb a Mountain: Within the next three years, I will prepare and successfully climb a significant mountain, such as Mount Kilimanjaro or Mount Fuji.
37. Learn a New Cuisine: Over the next year, I aim to learn how to cook a new cuisine by taking professional cooking classes and preparing that cuisine at home at least once a month.
38. Attend a Major Event/Festival: Within the next two years, I will attend a major cultural or sports event, like the World Cup or the Rio Carnival.
39. Read More Books: In the next twelve months, I plan to read at least 20 books from different genres to broaden my outlook and strengthen my knowledge.
40. Learn Wildlife Photography: Over the next three years, I plan to learn wildlife photography and go on at least two wildlife photography tours.
See Also: Personal Goals Examples
41. Run a Half Marathon: In the next two years, I aim to train for and successfully finish a half marathon.
42. Lose Weight: My 18-month goal is to lose 20 pounds through regular exercise and a healthy diet, targeting a 1-2 lbs weight loss per week.
43. Build Strength: Over the next year, I will increase my strength, aiming to double the weight I can lift in key exercises like the bench press and squats.
44. Improve Flexibility: Over the next six months, I aim to improve my flexibility by incorporating daily stretching into my routine to reach the point of performing a full split.
45. Increase Cardio Endurance: Within the next year, I aim to increase my cardio stamina until I can run 5 miles without stopping.
46. Master a Yoga Pose: Over the next year, I intend to develop my balance and strength to the point where I can master a challenging yoga pose, such as the headstand.
47. Reduce Body Fat Percentage: My 18-month goal is to reduce my body fat percentage by 5% through regular exercise and a balanced diet.
48. Regularly Attend Fitness Classes: In the next six months, I aim to attend fitness classes such as Pilates or Zumba twice a week to mix up my workout routine.
49. Climb a Rock Wall: Over the next year, I plan to build up strength and agility to scale a rock-climbing wall.
50. Maintain Regular Workout Schedule: For the coming year, my goal is to consistently workout at least four times a week without skipping a week.
SMART Goals Template
To help you to create your intermediate SMART goals, I’ve provided this template that you can save, edit, and print:
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Daw, N. D. (2015). Of goals and habits. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(45), 13749-13750. doi: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1518488112
Doran, G. T. (1981). There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives. Journal of Management Studies, 70-75.
Latham G.P., Locke E.A. (2018) Goal Setting Theory. In The SAGE Encyclopedia of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. London: SAGE.
Milne, S., Orbell, S., and Sheeran, P. (2002). Combining Motivational and Volitional Interventions to Promote Exercise Participation: Protection Motivation Theory and Implementation Intentions, British Journal of Health Psychology, 7(2): 163–184. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1348/135910702169420
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]