An aspiration is a long-term hope or ambition of achieving something in life, such as becoming a lawyer or a medical doctor. In contrast, a goal can be a shorter-term individual step toward achieving a specific aspiration, such as passing the law school entrance exam or getting admitted to medical school. Many times the words "aspiration" and "goal" are used interchangeably.
Defining a career aspiration is the first step toward marking out a path for the future that is possible to achieve in short-term goals. Aspirations may be determined according to work dreamed about in childhood, natural talents and abilities, or hobbies and favorite pursuits. The desired destination is the aspiration. Writing down specific, achievable and measurable goals toward the desired destination helps focus efforts to reach the career aspiration in small steps.
Goals must have time limits. If a person's objective is to pass a chemistry course in a nursing program, the written goal might be to obtain tutoring, spend five extra hours studying outside of each class and pass the course at the end of three months with a high grade. Writing down aspirations and goals allows assessment of progress toward the desired objectives and enables a person to make adjustments as needed.