A goal is something that you are trying to achieve. Are you hoping to earn your master’s degree? Advance in your company? Do you intend to travel to a new country? Try a new hobby? We’re constantly setting personal and professional goals. Today, we’ll cover the most useful vocabulary and phrases for talking about professional development goals. 

Verbs about Goals

To set a goal - to establish a goal

Example: This year, I set two primary professional goals: 1) Improve professional communication 2) Continue my education.

To make a goal - to establish a goal

Example: Making goals helps me to stay motivated at work.

To have a goal - a goal that you currently maintain

Example: I have a big long-term goal for the next five years - double the company’s sales.

To achieve a goal - to successfully attain a goal

Example: This year, I achieved my professional goals of learning how to use both Excel and Photoshop.

To reach a goal - to extend for and successfully achieve a goal

Example: After 5 years of hard work, I finally reached my goal of securing a management position in the company.

To accomplish a goal - to successfully attain a goal

Example: She is a very dedicated person and hard worker, so she always accomplishes her goals.


Adjectives to Describe Your Goals

Ambitious - designed to meet high aspirations, challenging to achieve

Example: Increasing sales every month is an ambitious goal.

Challenging - not easy, demands effort

Example: My professional goals for this year are challenging, but I’m going to work very hard to achieve them.

Easy - simple, achieved without serious effort

Example: This month, we have an easy target. We just need to maintain our current client base.

Achievable - possible to reach successfully

Example: Completing one report per week is an achievable goal.

Realistic - a practical idea of what can be achieved

Example: My boss is very rational. She always sets realistic goals for our team.

Unrealistic - an impractical or inaccurate idea of what can be achieved

Example: Our new manager doesn’t understand the market, so he set completely unrealistic annual sales goals.

Short-Term - occurring during a short period of time

Example: My short-term goal is to take a social media marketing class.

Long-Term - occurring during a long period of time

Example: My long-term goal is to get my master’s degree in marketing.


Common Professional Goals

Increase productivity

Example: I’ve set a goal to increase my professional productivity. With the help of my team, I think I’m capable of producing excellent results this year.

Be more efficient

Example: Sometimes I lose time doing small tasks. I’ve set a goal to be more efficient and get small tasks done quickly so that I have more time to focus on large projects.

Continue education

Example: My primary goal is to continue my education and get my master’s degree. If I have my advanced degree, I’ll be a more competitive candidate in my field.

Expand your network

Example: Making connections is one of the best way to advance professionally! I’ve made a goal to attend more conferences so that I can expand my professional network.

Improve communication skills

Example: I need to be more direct and concise when I communicate. I’ve made a goal to improve my professional communication skills.

Advance in the company

Example: My goal is to advance to a management position in the company within three years. It’s an ambitious goal, but I’m prepared to work diligently and prove my leadership skills.     

Plan ahead

Example: Sometimes, I have problems with time management. My goal for this year is to plan ahead and organize my time better.


Example Dialogue

Manager: Thanks for meeting with me! I’d like to discuss your short-term goals for this quarter and your long-term goals at the company as well.

Employee: Great! I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals, and I have some ideas. This month, I’d like to learn how to use a new application for social media management. My long-term goal is to re-design and implement a new social media strategy. I also intend to finish my market research project this quarter. My long-term goal is to use the research to help expand our company’s client base.

Manager: Your short-term objectives definitely sound achievable. And I’m impressed by the long-term goals you’ve set! They’re ambitious, and I think that’s great. Have you been thinking about your goals related to your position in the company?

Employee: Definitely. My short-term goal is to learn as much as I can and succeed in my current position. In the future, I’m hoping to reach my goal of becoming Lead Business Analyst.

Manager: If you continue to work hard, I think both of those goals are realistic. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you accomplish your goals!


* Tip: It’s important to remember that there’s more than one word for a goal! You may also hear people use these words: objective, target, purpose, intention, or aspiration.

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Written by Mariah Wika

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