From the moment you  entered beauty school, people likely began asking you about your goals. But you probably noticed that once you became a beauty professional, the "goal convo" never stopped, right? 

That's because goals are such a big part of our lives, especially our careers. It's why we've devoted so much virtual ink to this important topic: 

Today, we're going to expand our article library on goals even more by discussing the difference between goals and dreams, examples of short-term and longer-term career goals for beauty pros, and some best practices to keep in mind as you dream and scheme. 

When it comes to goals, sometimes we could all use a little inspiration. This article aims to deliver exactly that, so keep on reading! 

Goals vs. Dreams: What's the Difference? 

Think of a dream as the destination. Your dream is the big thing you want to accomplish. For example,  you might dream of opening your own salon. Or being a makeup artist to A-list celebrities. Or developing your own line of nail polish or skincare products. Those are examples of BIG dreams—the ultimate destination. 

Goals, on the other hand, are the milestones you need to reach as you journey towards that dream. 

Not all goals need a dream to chase. But all dreams require goals. If you set a revenue goal each year, for example, that might not necessarily be part of a larger dream. But your dream to open five salons on the west coast by the end of the decade is a big dream that requires many goals that you need to achieve along the way. 

Types of Goals for Beauty Professionals: SMART vs HARD. 

When it comes to goals, you might already be familiar with the popular acronym: SMART. The acronym has evolved over the years, but in relation to goals and goal-setting,  SMART stands for . . . 

  • Specific 
  • Measurable 
  • Achievable (Attainable) 
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

The SMART acronym can serve as a good measuring stick for some people's goals. In recent years, however, the SMART acronym has come under scrutiny. An article in Forbes titled  HARD Goals, Not SMART Goals, Are The Key To Career Development takes a deep dive into the author's study, which involved 4,182 workers from 397 organizations to see what kind of goals worked for them. 

The author notes, "When we conducted a separate correlation analysis, we found that the question about SMART goals (i.e. 'We use SMART Goals as our goal setting process.') had no meaningful correlation with employees achieving great things." 

The author goes on to report that a better acronym is HARD

Here's a brief overview: 

  • Heartfelt – Why do you want this goal? The idea is to make sure the desire is in alignment with what you stated as your goal. 
  • Animated – Explain where you're headed with your career and how you're going to get there. The idea is that the person will be thinking deeply—and excitedly—about their career path. 
  • Required – What do you need to do in the next X-number of months (or years) to achieve this goal? 
  • Difficult—What skills do you need to develop to achieve this goal? The idea is the person will be forced to acknowledge gaps in their own skillsets and that they'll need to do their part in developing them to achieve this goal. 

Definitely check out the Forbes article if you want to learn more (or you can read the author's updated research as of 2021). But also keep this in mind: When it comes to goals, do what works best for you. 

If you've had success with SMART goals in the past, great! If you want to try HARD goals, that's great, too. Not everyone learns the same way, so it makes sense that there won't be a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to setting and achieving goals. 

Now, let's give examples of short-term and longer-term career goals to inspire beauty professionals. 

Short-Term Career Goals to Inspire

When we say "short-term" career goals, we're taking about goals that you'll be able to accomplish more quickly, and, as a result, these goals might have a more immediate impact on your career. 

For example, if you want to learn that hot new trend all over TikTok, you can quickly identify what you need to do to learn that trend, whether it's taking a specific  course or participating in a  webinar for beauty professionals

Many of these short-term career goals aren't part of a larger dream—they're simply goals that can enhance your career right now.

Here's a quick-hitting list of common short-term goals that beauty professionals might consider tackling: 

  • Taking a class purely for enrichment purposes 
  • Taking a certain number of  continuing education classes a year (so that you're NOT scrambling when it's time to renew your license) 
  • Increasing your social media following by a certain amount 
  • Creating a video tutorial to share on your social media channels 
  • Trying a new-to-you social media platform 
  • Increasing your retail sales by X amount this month 
  • Booking a certain amount of new business this month 
  • Increasing rebookings by X percent this quarter 
  • Joining the local Chamber of Commerce (or some other sort of networking group) 
  • Attending a relevant conference or trade show 

The list above is FAR from an exhaustive list. Use it as a jumping-off point rather than a directive. 

Notice how some short-term goals will have fewer steps than others. For example, if you decide you want to take a class for enrichment purposes, you might  browse Milady's course offerings and select one. 

Other short-term goals might morph into long-term goals. For example, if you achieve your short-term goal of increasing retail sales by X percent this month, your next goal might be to increase sales by a certain amount for the next six months—or the next fiscal year. Or maybe you love creating video tutorials, and now you want to challenge yourself to create a video once a month—or even once a week. 

Long-Term Goals & Big Dreams for Added Inspiration 

As we mentioned above, some short-term goals will evolve into long-term goals (e.g., creating a new video tutorial once a week). 

And some longer-term goals will be tied directly to your BIG dreams. When dealing with a big dream, the necessary goals will likely require more work and/or a longer commitment. Plus, you'll usually need to accomplish more goals (milestones) in general in order to fulfill your dream. 

Here are some examples of bigger dreams that would require a bunch of longer-term goals: 

  • Launching your own salon & spa 
  • Launching additional locations for your salon & spa 
  • Becoming a beauty instructor 
  • Getting a second license 
  • Becoming a celebrity makeup artist 
  • Doing makeup and/or hair for Fashion Week
  • Working on a movie set 
  • Creating your own line of products—makeup, perfume, skincare, haircare 
  • Collaborating with a celebrity 
  • Regularly working with brands on your social media channels 
  • Monetizing your social media channels 

Let's say your big dream is to open your own salon someday. There are many goals you'll need to achieve, like raising capital/financing, finding and leasing a space, hiring employees, and so forth. It can be dizzying and overwhelming when you think of everything at once, which is why you might start with one set of goals: 

  • Take classes that can round out your business acumen. If you're completely new to the idea of running your own business, you might begin by  getting certified in Finance Fundamentals, which will teach you about key business concepts, like cash flow. 
  • Find a mentor who's achieved the dream you’re going after. Learn from someone who's been there, done that, including pitfalls to avoid. In fact, you could begin one of your first meetings with your mentor by asking this question: "What three things do you wish you knew when you started on this path?" 
  • Connect with a financial planner. A financial planner can help you budget for your big dream while also making sure your personal life (including retirement) is covered. 

Once you get going with those goals, you can tackle the next batch of goals and keep building from there. 

Notice how some goals are truly long-term: Your work with a mentor and financial planner will continue until you fulfill your dream of opening a salon—and probably long after. 

Yes, we've simplified the process (a lot) for the sake of this article, but you get the idea. And whether you call them SMART goals or HARD goals, the basic concept is consistent across both: You have your eye on a big prize, and you need to create a plan for getting there. 

Best Practices for Beauty Professional Goals 

Find a goal-setting strategy that works best for you. 

Again, this goes back to the SMART vs. HARD discussion. Do whichever approach works best for you. (Initially, you might need to give both approaches a shot and evaluate from there.) 

What about if you’re setting goals as a team (or for a team)? Some research suggests that you should avoid easy goals (which can feel too much like maintaining the status quo) and instead set hard goals, which can offer more motivation and overall satisfaction. 

Remember, personal goals can affect your career as well. 

Personal goals are just that: Personal things that matter to you. Whether it's eating healthier or getting a certain number of daily steps in, personal goals enrich our everyday lives and push us to be the best versions of ourselves. 

But many personal goals can also affect our careers. For example, maybe you shy away from conflict, and this trait has adversely affected both your personal and business relationships. Working on how to deal with conflict—either through a course, a coach, or a therapist—might be a personal goal. But it’s also a goal that can have a positive impact on your career. 

Bottom line: Don't underestimate the power that personal goals can have on your life as a beauty pro. 

Avoid constant comparison. 

Comparing where you are with your goal (or career) to where someone else is with their goals (or career) is incredibly fraught, especially when you're just starting on the goal in question. You also need to remember that someone will always be ahead of you. The person you're obsessing over wasn't instantly successful (despite what their social media feed might suggest). Intuitively, you know this. But it's easy to get caught in this mind game. 

As Inc.com notes, "No matter how well you're doing, comparing yourself to other people takes your eyes off your goals. And it can cause you to feel bad about how you're doing—because there will always be someone who looks happier, wealthier, healthier, and more successful." 

Our advice: When those little comparison gremlins start whispering in your ear, walk away. Close down the app. Talk to a trusted friend or mentor. And give yourself a break, which brings us to our final piece of advice . . . 

Celebrate wins, be kind when you falter, and keep going—ALWAYS keep going. 

Notice the word "go" in the word goal. With goals, you need to keep going. Definitely celebrate when you achieve a goal, no matter how small. The key is not lingering too long on the win because you don't want to stall or get stuck. The same is true when you falter. Disappointment and frustration are natural reactions. Feel the emotions, but push yourself to move on. Keep going. You got this!

Like what you see?

Get more expert career advice in your inbox by telling us what you're focusing on: