How to Set Career and Transition Goals for 2022

NCO of the year competition at Fort Benning.
Army Sgt. Carmen Sanchez performs a flexed arm hang during the NCO of the Year competition at Fort Benning, Georgia. (Spc. Tynisha Daniel/U.S. Army photo)

For some of us, getting to the end of the year feels like we've run a marathon. We just want to rest before kicking off the new year. If you're transitioning out of the military, however, this isn't your finish line. Rather, the end of a calendar year means investing time and effort to set clear and measurable goals for the new year.

As you articulate your goals, considering the long- and short-term needs for each allows you to put them into the larger context of your career and life, and then manage expectations along the way.

Here's how long- and short-term goals work to support a career path.

Career Goals

Long-term goal

Identify clearly what your ultimate goal is. What is the ideal state for your post-military career? Do you eventually want to own and operate a business? Clarify the type of business, whom you'd serve and where you'd operate.

For example, you might say your long-term goal is to "own and run an environmentally responsible home construction company in the Dayton, Ohio, area."

Short-term goal

You might currently lack certain skills or certifications to achieve that long-term goal, so short-term goals can help.

For example, your short-term goals could include "achieve general contracting licensing, take courses online to learn sustainability and 'green' building, and pursue business education opportunities."

You might also realize that hands-on experience would be helpful and set out to work for a construction company you respect, where you can either apprentice or learn firsthand how the business runs and what it takes to make environmentally responsible choices.

In addition to what you can learn in your short-term goals, you might also examine your relationships and connections. You could set a goal to meet influencers in the sustainability field, connect with funding sources who back "green" construction and find a mentor in the Dayton area who can show you the path to business ownership. These short-term goals are designed to feed into your long-term goal and provide a strategy to get there.

Financial Goals

Long-term goal

To own and operate a business, your long-term financial goal might be to have a certain income level, percentage of debt, cash flow and savings/investments to support your business, lifestyle and retirement plans.

Clearly spell these numbers out and provide details wherever possible.

Short-term goal

To support those financial goals, what do you need to earn in the coming year? How much will you need to save and invest? Take your larger goal and break it down into increments, using your knowledge and advice from mentors to create short-term financial goals and objectives.

Personal Goals

Long-term goal

Since life is not all about work, consider what your ultimate personal goals are. Where do you and your family aspire to be in 15 years? Twenty years? Create a vision for the lifestyle you desire, including vacations, housing, philanthropy, savings and time with friends and family.

Again, the more specific you can be, the better.

Short-term goal

With those long-term goals clarified, what choices will you have to make in a new year to get there? If spending more time with your children is a goal, for instance, then would a job that requires travel work for you? If having multiple homes in different places is your long-term personal goal, could you explore one potential location this year?

Taking your long-term goal and creating shorter-term goals from it is helpful.

Goal-setting is a process as individual as the people who set the goals. For some people, creating detailed spreadsheets, with multiple tabs and tables, is how they manage their goals. For others, a visual -- like a vision board or photo of their dream home -- keeps them focused on what's needed to achieve those goals.

However you set your own goals, thinking of long-term targets and then the smaller ones needed to get there helps the goals feel manageable.

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