Forty-four percent of women working remotely tell InHerSight their career goals have been delayed since the start of the pandemic. In a drastically changed work and home environment, one rife with anxiety and burnout, it’s increasingly difficult to pursue and attain pre-pandemic career milestones.
That’s why striving for (and measuring) short-term goals can be so incredibly important and rewarding right now. Aiming to land promotions or raises are longer term goals that take time to execute—and might not be feasible if your company is temporarily cutting costs—so making a list of multiple smaller goals will help you reach larger milestones, faster.
Shanita Liu, a certified career coach who helps women goal-set, says, “Setting short-term goals will help you break things up into bite-sized chunks so that you can assess what's working and not working along the way. We often want to bypass the learning, growing, and mistake-making in order to arrive at our big-goal finish line, but it's just not realistic—we need to take those baby steps along the way to further clarify and course-correct so that we can get ensure that we're ending up with quality (not quantity!) when we get that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”
Don’t know where to start? Liu suggests thinking with your heart first, instead of your head: “Tuning into what you actually want to do versus ‘have to do’ is a great way to authentically understand where you're at and how you truly feel about your situation, and it will help you picture more possibilities when it comes to your career path.” Once you understand how you feel, then you can dive into the logistics. And the more small victories you get, the more you’ll have to celebrate—plus, the more fueled and fired up you'll be to crush more goals.
Read more: 6 Steps to Feeling Less Lost Right Now
Here are 25+ short-term goals to strive for right now
1. Invite one coworker (or boss) to virtual coffee once a month
Get to know your boss or coworkers better by inviting them to a virtual or socially distanced coffee date once a month. Understanding more about your colleagues’ personal lives and career goals will ultimately improve workplace morale, communication, and empathy in the office.
2. Get off screens by 9 p.m. every day for two weeks
Blue light is extremely straining for our eyes and can cause your sleep to suffer. Give your eyes (and mind) a break by making it a goal to ditch all screens by 9 p.m. on weeknights.
3. Give a percentage of your paycheck to a charity each pay period for six months
If you’re saving more money since you aren’t commuting or buying a burrito bowl every day for lunch (RIP burrito bowls), give back to your community and donate a portion of your paycheck to a charity you admire. Giving money to charity boosts happiness, alleviates stress, and improves social connection.
4. Watch a TED Talk by an industry leader once a week on your lunch break
Familiarize yourself with your industry and learn from the leading experts in your field while you chomp away during your lunch break. It’s a super simple way to gain a higher understanding of your industry, plus you can impress your boss later on with your knowledge.
5. Complete an online course by the end of the year
Take a class online or earn a certification that will benefit your career trajectory in the long term. Whether it’s mastering a new language or earning your PMP, completing a course is a measurable way to advance in your career.
6. Publish a personal website
Showcase your accomplishments and develop your personal brand by creating a personal website or online portfolio. It’s easier for recruiters to find and contact you, and you’ll get to play around with your design and art direction skills.
7. Master a new technology for an hour a day
Learn how to use Adobe Photoshop or WordPress to stay up-to-date with the ever-changing technology. If you have a beefed up hard skills section on your resume, you’re bound to impress.
8. Work on a side-hustle project twice a week
Having a side-hustle or passion project outside your traditional working hours can help you pay the bills, supplement your savings, or release pent up creative energy. Plus, if you’re truly passionate about it, you can start transitioning your side-hustle into your main hustle.
Read more: 30+ Side-Hustles for Incredibly Busy Women
9. Ask for more regular feedback on your work
If you’re feeling stuck or discouraged at work, ask your boss or manager for more regular feedback outside quarterly 1:1s. Hearing what you’re doing well on and what you can work on will help you grow and improve in your career.
10. Organize your files in your downtime
If you’re working from home, it can be tempting to turn on the TV or get lost on Reddit if you don’t have any pressing, immediate work to do. And although we all deserve to take breaks throughout the day, it’s equally important not to spend a majority of the day doing things that aren’t work-related. If you have some downtime, organize and clean up the files on your computer—your future self will thank you.
Read more: 13 Busy Women on How to Stay Organized
11. Declutter your work station
Similarly to organizing your files, take some time to declutter your workspace—wherever that may be. Tidy up your empty coffee cups and Post-It note scribbles, and add a few plants to your space—it’ll make you more productive in the long run.
12. Network with three people each month
Networking is a huge catalyst for professional growth. Almost 80 percent of professionals consider professional networking to be important to career success, and 35 percent say that a casual conversation on LinkedIn has led to a new opportunity. Reach out to a former colleague or someone you admire in your industry and set up a time to connect.
13. Speak up in a meeting once a week
If you consider yourself an introvert, participating in meetings can seem like an enormous hurdle to overcome. Challenge yourself by setting a goal to speak up and voice your ideas in meetings at least once a week (or more!).
12. Meditate every morning before work
Meditation reduces stress, controls anxiety, enhances self-awareness, and boosts attention span. But although meditation can relieve stress in the short term, make sure you identify core problem-makers and address them head on to continue stress alleviation into the long-term future.
Read more: 3 Practical Ways to Relieve Stress
13. Leave your phone in another room while you work
It’s no secret that we crave notifications and reward ourselves with positive reinforcement on social media. Smartphones distract us from achieving a state of flow, which ultimately prevents us from finishing up all of the tasks on our to-do lists. If you find yourself reaching for your phone every 20 minutes to look at social media, maybe it’s time to try leaving your phone in another room while you work.
14. Finish one book per month
Get your reading game on and challenge yourself to finish one book per month. If your job requires you to do any writing, you’ll be actively improving your skills since reading helps writers’ technique, ideation, references, and comparison.
15. Blog twice a month about your industry
Use LinkedIn or your personal website to publish thought-leadership articles in your industry. Putting your thoughts to paper (or your keyboard) will help establish you as a trusted expert, answer questions peers in your field may have, and authenticate your company or brand.
16. Create a vision board
Simply put, a vision board is a collage of images and words that represent your goals and serve as daily motivation and inspiration. So yes, one of your short-term goals can be visualizing all of your goals. Your board should be an accurate representation of what you’re working toward, so you can envision how you’ll reach your career milestones.
Read more: How to Make a Vision Board
17. Ask your boss for a new project
If you find yourself with more free time than you need, ask for more responsibility by taking on a new project. Propose taking off work from someone else’s plate and increasing your own workload—your eagerness to take on more responsibility will make you a key contender for a promotion or raise down the line.
18. Don’t check your work emails after dinner
Frequent off-duty email checkers can cause conflict at home—their partners believe the habit of checking emails after work pushes their patience to the limit. People who check their inboxes experience greater stress levels, so make it a prerogative to ditch emails after dinnertime at home.
19. Improve public speaking skills
Public speaking is a soft skill that’s highly coveted in the workplace—your ability to engage and persuade people will take you far. If you want to impress, take a public speaking course, give a presentation, or lead a meeting.
20. Research a competitor and present your findings
Earn some brownie points by presenting a competitive analysis at your next meeting. Provide an analysis of the company’s current strengths, opportunities of improvement, and potential threats to the business.
21. Ask for a mentor
Having a mentor can give you a huge boost when you’re looking to advance your career—84 percent of CEOs credit their mentors with helping them avoid costly mistakes and becoming better at their jobs. Mentors can give advice, offer professional contacts, find job leads, and be a source of inspiration. Alternatively, you can make it a goal to become a mentor yourself to someone in your field.
Read more: How to Find a Mentor & How to Ask
22. Exercise at least three times a week
Regular exercise boosts energy levels, reduces risk of chronic illness, and improves brain function and memory. If you’re feeling drained at work, start working out for a minimum of 30 minutes three times a week.
Read more: How to Work More Steps Into Your Workday
23. Cook a meal every day
Cooking can be a form of self-care—there are very real psychological benefits to whipping up your own dinner or cooking for others. Plus, cooking for yourself allows you to control what types of ingredients you’re consuming and your portions.
24. Eliminate filler words from your work vocabulary
Oftentimes in conversation, we fall back on filler words like “um,” “ah,” or “like.” It’s human nature to use these words, but in the workplace, clear communication is key when trying to come across as professional and prepared. Overusing these words can negatively affect others’ perceptions of you at work and ultimately hurt your credibility, so make it a goal to slow down and be intentional with your words.
25. Become a better ally
Allyship takes intentional study; you can work your way through reading lists or TED Talks that inform on experiences different from your own. But if allyship is a goal, and you’re just learning how to advocate for people with less privilege than yourself, start by taking an Implicit Association Test (IAT) to learn your unconscious biases. IATs are assessments used to measure associations between concepts. They help to unveil your hidden beliefs regarding gender, race, age, and ability. Your test results can act as a guide in helping you evaluate how you perceive others, and they can ultimately help you interact better with your colleagues and be proactive in adjusting any negative conceptions.
26. Recognize and call out microaggressions in the workplace
Like we said, allyship takes awareness, and being aware of microaggressions, an under-the-radar form of discrimination, can help you advocate for yourself and others. Microaggressions are discriminatory actions or insensitive verbal comments that are often directed toward minorities. In order to have more inclusive and accepting workplaces, the first step is being able to recognize when microaggressions occur in the workplace—no matter how small. If you witness a microaggression or discriminatory event, call it out and explain why the behavior needs to stop or change since microaggressions affect belonging, self-worth, identity, and health in the workplace.
27. Stand up for yourself
Advocating for others is important, but so is advocating for yourself. Set a goal to work toward getting the respect you deserve as a human on this earth. Practice responding when someone interrupts you during a meeting, celebrating and promoting the work you do, and saying no to projects when you’re overwhelmed.
About our source
Shanita Liu is a certified professional coach accredited through the International Coaching Federation's Leadership That Works: Coaching For Transformation program. Her passion is teaching women how to avoid burnout and helping them identify and set goals with the tools necessary to achieve them. You can read more about her experience and services at coachshanita.com.