One of the best ways to set long-term goals is to use the SMART Goals framework.
This framework ensures your goals are clear and have the maximum chances of succeeding.
The framework guides you to write your long-term goals using five key elements:
- Specific: Your goal needs to specifically state what needs to be done. A specific goal clearly describes what you want to achieve and where you want to end up.
- Measurable: A measurable goal means you have a way to gauge your progress and know definitively when the goal has been reached.
- Achievable: An achievable goal is like Goldilocks: not too easy, not too hard. It’s something you can realistically achieve based on your abilities and what you have.
- Relevant: A relevant goal makes sense for your situation. If your long-term goals are about your career, focus on career-related things rather than personal matters or something else.
- Time-bound: A time-bound goal has a clear deadline, so you know when it should be done. It helps you avoid never-ending tasks and lets you track your progress.
Here are examples from different areas of life like home, career, education, and more. You can copy, edit, or personalize them to fit your own goals.
Long-Term Goals Examples
1. Obtain a Master’s Degree
Enroll in a relevant degree program within the next six months, progressing steadily to complete the course and obtain the qualification within the set timeframe of four years.
2. Run a Marathon
Begin a consistent and gradual training regimen, with the aim of completing a full marathon within the next two years.
3. Become Fluent in Spanish
Regularly attend language classes and engage in real-life practice, with the intention of reaching fluency within three years.
4. Save for Retirement
Regularly set aside a specific amount of income every month, with the long-term goal of amassing a significant retirement nest egg within twenty years.
5. Publish a Novel
Write daily to complete a first draft within the next year. Allocate time for editing and securing a publisher with the aim of having a novel published in five years.
6. Reduce Personal Debt
Create and adhere to a budget that allows for dedicated monthly debt repayments, aiming to be debt-free within ten years.
7. Purchase a Home
Save a specific portion of income each month towards a down payment, with the intent of buying a home within seven years.
8. Learn a Musical Instrument
Engage in regular lessons and daily practice of a chosen instrument, with the goal of attaining a certain level of proficiency in four years.
9. Travel to Six Continents
Plan and save for trips to various countries on each continent, the goal being to visit all six within twelve years.
10. Establish a Charity
Develop a viable plan for a non-profit organization that aligns with personal passions, targeting to set it up successfully and operate within five years.
11. Complete a Triathlon
Train routinely to improve swimming, cycling, and running skills, targeting to successfully complete a triathlon event in the next three years.
12. Earn a PhD
Embark on a specific area of study to earn a doctorate, with the aim of completion within six years.
13. Develop a Successful Startup
Research, plan, and establish a small business with the goal of reaching a specific profit margin within five years.
See Also: A List of Future Goals
14. Build a Stock Portfolio
Regularly invest in diverse stocks with the aim of building a robust portfolio over ten years.
15. Climb a Major Mountain Peak
Train progressively to develop the necessary physical and mental fortitude, aiming to summit a renowned mountain peak within four years.
16. Master Advanced Yoga Moves
Attend yoga classes frequently and practice diligently, with the goal of accomplishing advanced yoga poses in two years.
17. Produce a Short Film
Write a screenplay, obtain funding, and engage in production with a goal of releasing a short film within three years.
18. Open a Boutique
Design and create unique products aiming to open a small boutique within five years.
19. Produce an Album
Write and record songs with the target of producing a complete music album within two years.
20. Learn Coding
Enroll in a coding course, hone skills, and aim to proficiently code in a specific language within one year.
21. Adopt a Healthier Lifestyle
Implement changes to diet and exercise routines with the aim of improving health scores within two years.
22. Break a Guinness World Record
Identify a specific record and train vigorously with the goal of breaking that record within three years.
23. Compete in a Chess Tournament
Engage in regular training and participate in local tournaments with the goal of competing in a national chess tournament within five years.
24. Create a Social Media Channel
Regularly produce quality content with the aim of reaching a certain number of subscribers within two years.
25. Improve Public Speaking
Enroll in public speaking workshops, practice regularly, and aim to proficiently deliver speeches in various forums within one year.
26. Write a Stage Play
Develop a storyline, write and revise the script with the target of production within three years.
27. Obtain a Pilot’s License
Enroll in a flight school, complete necessary hours and examinations successfully to receive a pilot’s license within the next three years.
28. Build a Sustainable Home
Research sustainable technologies and save towards the construction of a sustainable home in the next five years.
29. Bake Professionally
Work towards mastery of various baking techniques with the aim of pursuing a career as a professional baker within two years.
See Also: Intermediate Goals List
30. Run a Successful Blog
Regularly write and post high-quality content, targeting reaching a significant number of regular blog viewers within the course of two years.
31. Design a Mobile App
Learn necessary programming skills, identify a need, and create an application to meet that need, with the aim of achieving downloads within the two-year mark.
32. Become a Certified Diver
Undertake necessary training and certification exams to become a qualified professional diver within three years.
33. Obtain a Black Belt in Taekwondo
Regularly attend martial arts training with the goal of achieving a black belt in a set period of five years.
34. Write a Cookbook
Experiment and master various recipes, aiming to publish a cookbook within the next three years.
35. Become a Wine Connoisseur
Take courses in wine tasting and viticulture, with the target of achieving sommelier status in four years.
36. Design a Fashion Line
Develop design sketches, source materials and manufacture a line of clothing with the ambition of running a runway show within five years.
37. Lose Weight
Implement a health-conscious diet plan and regular exercise regime to lose a certain amount of weight healthily within a year.
38. Bike Across a Continent
Train for long-distance cycling and plan a route with the aim of biking across a chosen continent in the next three years.
39. Master Gardening Skills
Learn and consistently practice various gardening techniques with the goal of growing a thriving home garden in two years.
40. Earn a Professional License
Complete necessary educational or professional milestones and examinations to earn a licensure in your chosen career within a set timeframe.
41. Start a Podcast
Identify relevant and unique content, set up necessary equipment, and aim to record and release a podcast series within the next year.
42. Win a Photography Award
Improve photographic skills, consistently produce high-quality photos, and aim to secure a prominent photography award within next five years.
43. Organize a Community Event
Plan and implement a successful community event aimed at raising funds or fostering community spirit within the next two years.
44. Learn to Sail
Take regular sailing lessons with the goal of sailing independently on open waters within three years.
45. Create a Home Library
Regularly purchase books of personal interest, aiming to collect enough to establish a home library within five years.
46. Learn Pottery
Take up pottery classes and aim to create a certain number of personal hand-crafted items within two years.
47. Build a Classic Car
Acquire necessary parts and knowledge required to build a classic car, aiming to have the project completed within the next five years.
48. Learn Sign Language
Enroll in a specific language learning course and practice regularly with the target of becoming fluent in sign language in three years.
49. Obtain a Second Citizenship
Fulfill the residency, legal, language or investment requirements to obtain a second citizenship in a chosen country within ten years.
50. Train a Dog to Show Standards
Work with a chosen breed of dog regularly to reach and maintain show standards within two years.
51. Become a Homeowner
Implement a savings plan to make a down payment and secure a mortgage for a home within the next five years.
52. Grow a Small Business
Plan and launch a business; aim to achieve steady growth with a specific profit margin within next three years.
53. Learn Magic Tricks
With regular practice, aim to master a specific number of magic tricks within a year.
54. Cultivate a New Hobby
Choose a hobby of interest and allocate regular time for it, aiming to achieve a certain proficiency level within two years.
55. Become Certified in First-Aid
Complete a recognized course to become certified in first-aid practices within the next year.
56. Tour Historical Landmarks
Plan and save for trips to visit a specified number of historical landmarks around the world within the next five years.
57. Master a New Cooking Cuisine
Regularly experiment with various recipes to master a new cuisine within the next two years.
58. Obtain a Professional Certification
Complete necessary coursework and exam to obtain a professional certification in a chosen field within a two-year time frame.
59. Start an Organic Farm
Acquire a plot of land, gain knowledge of organic farming, and aim to produce the first crop within the next three years.
60. Complete a Wilderness Survival Course
Enroll in, and successfully complete a wilderness survival skills course in the next year.
The following are specifically career goals. For a full outline of how to set long-term career goals, see here.
61. Achieve a Leadership Position
Excel in current role, demonstrate leadership qualities, and aim to progress into a leadership position within your organization in the next five years.
62. Obtain Professional Licensure
Complete required coursework and examination to obtain licensure in your field within the set timeframe of three years.
63. Change Career Paths
Identify a new field of interest, acquire necessary skills and experience, and transition successfully into the new profession within the next four years.
64. Increase Client Base
Employ effective strategies to steadily increase the number of your loyal customers or clients within the next two years.
65. Establish an Industry-Wide Presence
Attend conferences, publish research, and network with professionals in your industry with the aim of building an industry-wide presence over the next five years.
66. Learn a Valuable Skill
Identify a skill crucial to your profession, become proficient, and start applying it effectively within your job in the next two years.
67. Start a Consulting Service in Your Field
Leverage accumulated knowledge and experience to start a consulting service in your sector within the next five years.
68. Become a Mentor
Accumulate sufficient experience and skill to effectively mentor newcomers in your field within the next three years.
69. Reach a Specific Earnings Threshold
Employ a strategy to increase income, aiming to reach a specific financial goal in your career within the next five years.
70. Reduce Work-Related Stress
Implement a combination of time management, self-care, and assertiveness strategies to markedly reduce work-related stress within the next two years.
71. Secure a Job Overseas
Gain specific skills and qualifications to secure a job in a foreign country within the next three years.
72. Hold a Patent in Your Field
Invent or develop a commercially viable idea or process; go through the patenting process successfully within a five-year timeframe.
73. Become a Recognized Expert in Your Field
Accumulate in-depth knowledge and experience that leads to recognition as an expert in your field within the next five years.
74. Expand Your Business
Develop and execute a growth strategy to expand your business to a specific number of locations within the next five years.
75. Increase Project Management Skills
Invest in professional development and practical application, aiming to become proficient in advanced project management within a three-year timeframe.
76. Establish a Positive Company Culture
Implement human resource strategies to establish a company culture that increases employee satisfaction and productivity within the next two years.
77. Begin a Second Career After Retirement
Identify a field of interest, acquire necessary skills, and embark on a second career post-retirement in five years.
78. Achieve Work-Life Balance
Employ time-management strategies to achieve a balance between work demands and personal life within the next two years.
79. Enhance Presentation Skills
Attend workshops, practice regularly, and aim to proficiently deliver presentations in various forums within one year.
The following are long-term goals specifically for students and education. For a full guide on education goals, see: examples of long-term goals for students.
80. Become a Public Speaker
Gain public speaking skills and share expertise at industry conferences and public events within the next five years.
81. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Enroll in a chosen program, maintain steady course progression and obtain a bachelor’s degree within the typical four-year timeframe.
82. Advanced Degree Completion
Begin a Master’s or PhD program in a chosen field, staying on track to complete the advanced degree within a set time frame, typically two to six years.
83. Learn a Foreign Language
Engage in regular lessons and practice the language with native speakers, aiming at fluency within a three-year window.
84. Complete a Professional Certificate Program
Enroll in and successfully complete a professional certificate program relevant to your field within the next two years.
85. Publish a Research Paper
Conduct an impactful research study in your field and aim to get it published in a reputable journal within the next five years.
86. Specialization in a Specific Area
Choose a specific area within your field of study and aim to become specialized in this area within the next three years.
87. Obtain a Teaching License
Complete necessary coursework and internships required to obtain a teaching license within the set timeframe of two years.
See Also: Examples of Internship Goals
88. Expand Your Skills Portfolio
Proactively complete courses and workshops to build a diverse skillset within your field, with the goal to add a specific number of new skills each year for the next five years.
89. Secure an Internship
Gain valuable practical experience and networking opportunities in your field of study by securing an internship within the next year.
90. Achieve Academic Excellence
Maintain a specific grade point average or higher throughout the academic program ending in four years.
91. Participate in a Study Abroad Program
Plan and save for a study abroad program in a chosen country and participate in a semester-long program within the next two years.
92. Present at an Academic Conference
Undertake a unique research study or project aiming to present the findings at a reputable academic conference within three years.
93. Win an Academic Award
Strive for excellence in an area of study to attain prestigious academic award or scholarship within the next two years.
94. Complete Online Courses
Identify and enroll in online courses to enhance certain skills and aim to complete a set number of courses within the next year.
95. Attend a Prestigious University
Qualify for and secure admission to a prestigious university to pursue higher studies within the next two years.
96. Learn a Complex Subject
Choose a challenging subject related to your core interests and aim to master it through intensive study within the next three years.
97. Become a Research Assistant
Aim to add practical research experience to your academic career by gaining a position as a research assistant within the next year.
98. Complete Post-Doctoral Research
After obtaining a PhD, aim to complete a post-doctoral research assignment in a specialized area of study within two years.
99. Author a Book in Your Field
Compile your expertise and extensive research into a book aimed at students or professionals in your field, planning to publish within a five-year timeframe.
100. Develop a New Course
Leverage your expertise in a subject area to design and develop a new academic course within the next two years.
101. Become a Professor
Upon earning the necessary academic qualifications and teaching experience, secure a position as a professor in a chosen field within a seven-year period.
Long-term goals give you a sense of purpose and direction. I personally like to make sure my long-term goals match my core values and personal interests. Then, I set short-term goals that act as stepping-stones, demonstrating each immediate step that you need to ‘tick off’ in order to make your way to achieving these above goals examples in the long term.
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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]