Set short, medium and long term financial and personal goals

Make the short term ones easier and then mid get a bit harder and long should be the hardest.


Is goal setting a good idea, generally within a careers context.


Having a simple well-articulated vision can help inform choices and goals


Recruit a team to help you set your goals


It’s important to balance your activities.


It’s good to have a structure and a time line for your goals (short, medium, long term)


For many students career goal setting is a very serious business but it’s important to not to invest too much into the career process.


goal setting is impotant

Goal Setting

If all short terms goals are consistently attained the mid and long term golas will be easier to get to and will also be a motivational tol to push harder

short, Mediun and Long term

Why is it important to set goals?

Let’s begin with some common interview questions:

  • Where do you see your career in five years’ time?
  • Why did you choose that course?
  • Tell me about yourself

These questions assume you’ve not only thought about your career goals but you are able to articulate them. So having a ‘goal story’ is important in recruitment.

But is goal setting a good idea, generally within a careers context?

The evidence would certainly suggest that is the case. Goal setting has been around a long time and features prominently in management and personal development literature. If you search online, you’ll get lots of useful tips on motivation, SMART goals, top tips and golden rules etc. You can read success stories from sport to education. So it can be an incredibly useful tool to support motivation, prepare for pitches and for career planning.

However goal setting, or a least the pressure to set goals, can be unhelpful.

Let me explain.

At LSE you’ll be surrounded by students who have set themselves, and then achieved, some amazing goals. This is great. However if you haven’t established your personal goals LSE can be an uncomfortable place.

 The pressure to make a decision about your career goals and plans can have some unfortunate consequences: feelings of anxiety, a belief that everyone has a goal except you, a tendency to book on to lots of career events, and feeling that once you’ve established your goals everything will fall into place. There is in effect a rational linear process to help to achieve your career aspirations. This is true, but only in part.

I see students every day who use their critical thinking skills to decide on the best career for them. They set themselves goals and they achieve them. However, for many more students it’s been a much less linear and a more fluid process. It’s been more a case of trial and error, experimentation, reliance on gut instinct, and reactions to coincidence or chance. Some career theorists have picked up on this and have suggested that it’s ok to not always have a plan.

Personally, I do think it is a good idea to have a plan and to set goals. I have found it useful break goals down into short term (up to six months) , medium term (up two years), and long term goals (2-5 years and beyond). But most of all I have found it useful to consider five principles as guides to action when it comes to refining goals.

Principle 1

Vision is crucial


Whether it’s a great business, a great entrepreneur, or a highly skilled professional, having a simple well-articulated vision can help inform choices and goals. Spending time thinking about your career vision/purpose can save you a lot of time in the long run. There’s lots great advice available on career planning and finding your purpose. Similarly thinking like a business and using business tools like SWOT can help you reflect on your current situation.

Principle 2

Goal setting is a team sport

Recruit a team to help you set your goals. This might involve students from your course with a similar career vision. A group of your fellow students can generate a much richer plan than you can by yourself. Try to find ‘expert witnesses’ within the sector or function that best represents your evolving career vision.

It’s good to partner with as many people as possible to support you with your goals. For example, you might want to improve your case study skills.

Individual practice is a good idea but forming a case study practice group can take your skills to another level. Your ‘team’ should be constantly evolving through your networking activities and helping you refine your vision and goals.


Principle 3

Less is more

It’s important to balance your activities. Time is in short supply so spend it wisely. Avoid repetition and check your goals are contributing to your vision. Goals that give double pay offs are best. So you want to improve your English language skills?

You could take course but a better option might be to enrol on a dance class with English speakers where you can have fun, build new networks and relax (if you want to dance of course!)

Principle 4

Be flexible

It’s good to have a structure and a time line for your goals (short, medium, long term) but equally it’s good to be flexible and make changes with new information. Careers are constantly changing; they require new skills and new approaches (particularly true of the emerging ‘Gig economy’).

It’s good to consider what’s important to you right now. The priorities for a first year PPE (four year programme) will be very different to a student on a one year master’s and this will have a big impact on your timeline. Goal setting is a process and it’s good to sense check regularly with like-minded colleagues.

 Principle 5

Have fun


For many students career goal setting is a very serious business but it’s important to not to invest too much into the career process. Make it manageable and reward yourself when you reach your particular milestones.


Enabling Goals

The best way to achieve those complex, multi-layered goals is with a mix of short, medium, and long-term goals. Each of these has different benefits and can help launch you forward toward the end result that you ultimately are seeking.

What ties the whole process together are enabling goals. These are goals that are intentionally created as stepping-stones – helping you build on them and the success of achieving them, to energize and encourage you to achieve your medium and long-term goals.

Try this step-by-step goal setting strategy to move your dreams into the realm of reality:

Set your long-term goals first. What do you want to achieve in the next few years? These are broad, sometimes scary, audacious goals that will take some time to achieve. They are ‘stretch and grow’ goals, like buying a home, losing a significant amount of weight, or starting your own business. Your long-term goals are the foundation for goal setting as they define where you want to be in the future, and they are currently out of reach, forcing you to get stronger, smarter and more focused in order to achieve them.

NOTE: Long-term goals should be obtainable within a set number of years – don’t give them a “someday” timetable. Try to give your goals a specific time frame, such as buying a home in five years or achieving your goal weight in two years. Putting that definite timetable on them helps light the fire of motivation and keep you moving in a positive direction.

Set your medium term goals next. Let these act as large stepping-stones to help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if your goal is to lose 100 pounds in two years, let a medium-term goal be to achieve a 50 pound loss in the next 9 – 12 months, building toward your long-term goal. Setting a reasonable goal between where you stand now and the ultimate goal you hope to achieve will help to keep you motivated during the times when your long-term goal feels much too far away.


NOTE: Medium term goals should also have specific time frames in mind – the success of your long-term goals and aspirations build on the achievements in the medium term.

Finally, focus on your short-term goals

These are goals that you can achieve more readily, within a shorter time frame – like months instead of years. Set short-term goals for each month of your weight loss program, for example. Or start with setting a goal to get rid of all the junk food in your kitchen, and a goal to meet with a coach or trainer so that you can outline your fitness plan. These goals guide you along the path toward medium and long-term goals by helping you ‘sweat the details’, making the initial steps toward success.

NOTE: Short-term goals can be anything you want them to be, but they should be enabling goals. This means that they should be small, but definite, steps toward your long-term goal.
 Don’t get distracted by setting goals that will not move you toward your ultimate result.

Follow the SMART goal setting strategy for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely short-term goals that you know you can achieve – the success you experience will help to keep you motivated.


Long-term goals tend to be the most meaningful and important, which is why they take so much time to achieve. But don’t just focus your attention on the big picture goals, when it is medium and short-term goals that will allow you to get there. Focus on all three types of goals – drawing a picture of how they all fit together – when planning for your future.

The intentional you are in creating a plan to reach your goals, the better the results are likely to be, but don’t get bogged down. Set some action steps in place and then start making things happen. Planning and forethought can go a long way in helping you achieve what you really desire in your life – giving you a specific direction for your actions and your energy.

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