In the personal development world, people talk a lot about goal setting as a way to inspire and achieve positive change in your life.
But you might be unsure what type of goals you should even be creating.
We all want to live more successful, happy, and confident lives, so how can personal life goals help you to do this?
In this article, we’ll cover 25 examples of different personal life goals — ranging from health goals, work goals, financial goals, and general life goals — that you can use to have a instant impact for a more empowered life.
Here’s what the article covers (you can click through to each section):
What are personal goals and how do they help you?
In short, personal goals are deciding what it is you want to achieve in life and creating a plan of action to help you get there.
They can include a variety of areas like:
- Business or career goals
- Family goals
- Lifestyle goals
- Health or fitness goals
- Development and skills goals
- Relationship goals
- Education goals
What goals you choose depends on the area of your life you most want to focus on right now.
It’s important to remember that your goals will most likely shift and change as your priorities do — and that’s ok.
As a personal development junkie and a qualified life coach, I’ll be honest, I have a love-hate relationship with goal setting.
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Getting clear on what is most important to you, the direction you want to go in, and what will take you there, is incredibly valuable.
On the other hand, I am not a big fan of too rigid life plans — because as we all know, sh*t happens, and being able to go with the flow helps make the ride a lot smoother.
From personal experience though, I have largely found most people do benefit greatly from goal setting — when it’s done in the right way, which we’ll talk about next.
Here’s how I believe setting goals can help you:
- Give you something to work towards
- Create more meaning and purpose in your life
- Help you to achieve a specific target or outcome that you want in life
- Grow your skills and knowledge
- Improve your life circumstances — whether that is financially, emotionally, spiritually, etc.
- Motivate and encourage you
- Give you greater clarity in life
- Improve your focus
- Make you more productive
- Encourage you to take greater responsibility for yourself
How to set personal goals that actually work
There are definitely wrong ways and right ways to create personal goals.
For example, you don’t want to pile on the pressure or set unrealistic goals that are only going to make you feel bad when you can’t live up to an unfair expectation.
On the other hand, vague goals, without a clear outcome, are not really goals at all — they’re more like a wishlist.
There’s a sweet spot right in the middle.
Maybe you’ve heard of SMART goals?
It’s an acronym that lays out a rough structure your goals should follow:
- Specific – be clear about what it is you want.
- Measurable – you will be able to tell when you have actually achieved it.
- Attainable – it’s a realistic goal that you will be able to do
- Relevant – It aligns with where you want to focus your priorities in life
- Time-bound – you have a deadline or a finish line in sight.
Let’s say you want to save money so that you can travel. That’s a pretty vague version of a goal.
A smart version of it would be:
I want to save $5000 in the next 6 months so that I can take a trip to Paris because creating more experiences is a priority for me right now and I’ve always wanted to see the Eiffel Tower.
It’s clear what you want to do (save money to visit Paris), why you are doing it (you’ve always wanted to see the Eiffel Tower), when you will achieve your goal (once you save $5000), how long you realistically think it will take you (6 months) and that it’s the right thing to be focusing your energy on (more life experiences is a priority).
Choosing personal goals that best align with you and your life
Your goals can be short-term or long term and they certainly don’t all need to be huge life-changing dreams.
It can be incredibly satisfying and still create impact when you set simple goals.
With smaller, easier goals there’s the added bonus that you can quickly include them in your life without much effort.
Basically, it’s nice to mix it up and include both big and small goals.
To me, one of the downsides I see with some goal-setting practices in the personal development industry is a too greater emphasis on achievement-based outcomes.
What I mean is, wanting to earn a certain amount of money or hit a weight target.
Of course, if these are your priorities there is nothing wrong with that, but it’s worth remembering that goals that have an emotional or general wellbeing focus too are just as valid.
Goals that help you to grow as a person have just as much merit as those which perhaps create more tangible changes in your life.
25 personal life goals you should start setting today
Need some inspiration to get started with your goals?
As a self-development nut, I’ve handpicked some of the best examples of personal goals I think you should be setting — which will not only benefit you but those around you and even the whole world.
1) Make time for play
Not long ago I reviewed Mindvalley’s Habit of Ferocity program by Steven Kotler.
In it, the peak performance expert recommended is setting aside just 15 to 20 minutes a day for play. This time is dedicated to simply exploring ideas and subjects that fascinate you and you are curious to learn more about.
All too often we only allow ourselves to dedicate our time to exploring things when we feel like there is a specific point to it — for example to advance our career.
But this type of innocent and pressure-free play can spark our imagination and help us to uncover unearthed interests or even our purpose in life.
2) Cut down your alcohol consumption
I enjoy a nice glass of wine just as much as the next person, but when somebody recently told me that they have a “good relationship with alcohol” I did question whether this sentiment was ever truly possible?
Whilst moderate alcohol consumption isn’t necessarily destructive, many of us can probably hold our hands up to drinking a little more than we should.
Alcohol is so deeply ingrained within our culture that it is normalized.
Yet it is often used in, arguably, unhealthy ways to mask stress, depression, or social anxiety — not to mention the health implications excessive drinking brings.
3) Walk more
Would it surprise you to hear that just a generation ago, 70% of school children walked to school compared to less than half now? Or that up to 60% of 1-2 mile trips are still made by car?
Swapping a journey you normally do by car, and going by foot instead, will not only help your fitness levels but will reduce your carbon footprint too.
Committing to taking a 30-minute walk just a few times a week can significantly improve your mental health as well — with one British study finding that a stroll in green spaces helps put your brain into a meditative state.
4) Add something to your CV
If you are motivated to learn something new that is going to offer you tangible benefits for the future, choosing a course to enhance your CV could be a good way to go.
Whether it’s a qualification or a specific skill that’s valued in your line of work, it’s never been easier to study.
Many offer a large variety of cost-effective courses and a lot of them are even free.
5) Work on your willpower
Some people find that whilst they have plenty of ideas and plans, they lack the self-discipline and willpower to follow through.
Working on your willpower is a gift that can then be applied to so many areas of your life.
You might think that willpower is either something you have or you don’t have, but you can practice and improve it.
For example, make a list of things you actively avoid doing that you feel like you should — then for one week commit to doing them, no matter what.
If you ordinarily hate mornings, force yourself to get up an hour early to do something worthwhile.
6) Share more
Sharing comes in many forms. Whilst it might be sharing what you have — your wealth or possessions with others — it may also be a skill or a talent.
You could give away the clothes you no longer wear, or objects you don’t use.
You might decide to share your time with others, perhaps volunteering or helping someone out who needs some support.
You could choose to share your knowledge with someone who would benefit from it.
Sharing is a fundamental part of not only individual human relationships but also our societies.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that one study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found even sharing our good news with other people gives us more of an emotional boost than when we keep it to ourselves.
7) Reduce your social media use
There’s no doubt that technology advancements, like those we’ve experienced in communication over the last decade, have made it so much easier and convenient to keep in touch.
Although we’ve never been better connected, it’s not without a cost.
Our “always one” culture also contributes to stress, anxiety, and depression.
Some negative consequences of social media use include FOMO (fear of missing out), social comparison, constant distraction, sleep disruption, and decreased connection to the people around you.
Taking a break from social media, silencing your phone at mealtimes or turning it off on an evening, and taking your time to respond to messages are all increasingly important forms of self-care.
8) Improve your self-talk
Most of us have a nasty little voice that lives inside our head, criticizing us whenever it thinks we’ve messed up or simply feeding us unkind stories about ourselves.
Your inner critic is often so consistent you may not even notice it anymore. But this toxic companion knocks your self-worth and confidence, holds you back, and can contribute to self-sabotaging patterns.
The good news is, counteracting these negative effects doesn’t need to be complicated:
- Learn to catch and actively question negative self-talk when you notice it.
- Become more conscious of the language you use towards yourself.
- Intentionally feed yourself more loving words or phrases throughout the day
9) Face your fears
Personal development isn’t all fluffiness and “good vibes only”. That is just the BS PR version promising to magic your life to a happily ever after.
Real self-development is a brave journey that we embark on which forces us to confront our darkness within, not just the lighter side of life.
Whether it’s a particular phobia or aversion you may have or even some weaknesses you are aware of — working on what you want to get rid of from your life is just as vital as focusing on what you want to create.
10) Cultivate gratitude
Gratitude may be humble, but it sure is powerful.
You can cultivate gratitude by starting or ending your day by listing the things you feel thankful for in your life right now.
That may be either writing them down for you to personally reflect on or sharing what you feel grateful for with a partner or a loved one.
11) Eat less meat and fish
An increase in the amount of meat the average person now eats means we produce three times the quantity of meat we did fifty years ago.
This, combined with overfishing, is having an undeniable — unless you happen to be a lobbyist — negative impact on our planet’s environment.
Then there are personal health benefits of eating less meat and fish.
Studies show that people who eat red meat are at an increased risk of death from heart disease, stroke, or diabetes.
On the other hand, those who consume largely plant-based diets weigh less and have a lower risk of heart disease.
12) Focus on your breathing
As the vast majority of us are lucky enough to breathe without needing to even give it a second thought — we rarely do.
Yet, chances are you aren’t releasing the full power of your breath.
Breathing techniques and breathwork have been shown to bring benefits that include stress relief, boosting and focusing energy, pain management, releasing tension, and increasing positive emotions.
It can also be a great mindful alternative for people who tend to struggle with regular meditation practice.
13) Let go and forgive
I once wrote a letter to an ex-boyfriend who had cheated on me, wishing him well and thanking him for all the good times.
Whilst many people would think I’m an absolute fool, letting go of negative events from your past and learning to forgive perceived wrongs, lift a weight from your own shoulders.
There’s a lot of truth in the quote: “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” (which is often misattributed to the Budha, but actually the source is unknown).
14) Meet new people
Whether it’s for social reasons or networking for work, broadening your circle can bring many growth benefits.
A lot of us feel lonely, lacking in meaningful relationships, or like we don’t have very much in common with the people around us.
Making an effort to improve your social skills, join a group, engage in conversation with more people, or go to networking events can be really rewarding personal goals to embark on.
15) Make friends with failure
We spend a lot of time actively avoiding failure but the truth is that all success relies upon it.
Everyone who has achieved anything of note has first failed — and usually many, many times.
Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team for lack of skill, whilst Beethoven’s music teacher told him he was talentless and especially poor at composing.
Learning to reframe failure as part of the journey helps to cultivate a growth mindset.
16) Pay off your debts
It’s mainly the case that the wealthiest countries in the world are also home to the largest personal household debt.
There’s no doubt about it, paying off debt takes strong motivation and dedication.
Depending on your level of debt it is also likely to be a long-term goal that you need to set, rather than something that can happen overnight.
But the rewards are also clear, with reduced stress, better money habits, and financial security some of the more obvious benefits.
17) Learn a language
As a native English speaker, I always promised myself that I’d learn another language fluently before I die.
Whilst I do know some Italian and Portuguese, sadly, I’m not close to fluent yet.
It is tempting to save yourself the undeniably hard work of learning languages, especially when you feel like you don’t need to. But there is something so admirable about getting to grips with another culture in this way.
Language learning can also improve your memory, make you a better communicator in general, encourage your creativity, and have even been shown to increase the size of your brain.
18) Join an organization or campaign group
Is there a cause close to your heart?
Is there a particular topic that you always find yourself ranting about at dinner parties? Is there one issue in particular that you would so desperately love to see a change in?
Joining a campaign group helps you to put your money where your mouth is and get involved in what matters to you most in the society you live in.
Whether it is a local issue or a global one, standing up for what you believe in improves your personal power and makes a difference in the world.
19) Read more
Reading is one of those hobbies that many of us wish we did more, but can’t find the time — funny how that never seems to be the case for Netflix isn’t it.
Whether you are reading for fun or to learn something, it has a host of benefits like improving concentration, developing analytical skills, reducing stress, improving your vocabulary and writing skills, and may even reduce the risk of developing Alzheimers and dementia.
20) Work on your EI and not just your IQ
From childhood, there’s a lot of focus on intelligence.
Schools teach us trigonometry, what tectonic plates are and what happens when you put various substances over a bunsen burner. Yet intelligence is more than just scholarly capabilities.
Your emotional intelligence — an awareness of, control of, and healthy expression of your emotions — is equally important.
Rather than learning another practical skill, why not consider improving your listening, conflict resolution, self-motivation, empathy, and self-awareness.
21) Better manage stress
Stress is so prolific in modern societies that it has been referred to as the health epidemic of the 21st century.
Whether at home or at work, there seems to be an endless list of triggers.
It’s tempting to use unhealthy coping mechanisms like alcohol, drugs, watching TV, overeating to manage our stress levels.
But for the sake of our wellbeing, we know that we should really all be finding more constructive outlets like breathing techniques, meditation, exercise, yoga, or some kind of creative pursuit.
22) Learn a DIY skill
I used to own a 1974 Renault — which unsurprisingly frequently had problems — and I can’t tell you how proud I felt when I fixed my own brakes.
Let me also quickly say in this instance it was pretty stupid. I soon realized this wasn’t an amateur sort of thing to “have a go at” and took it to a mechanic the next day to check.
But anyway, my point is that becoming more self-reliant is an incredibly satisfying feeling.
Yet with an increased dependency on Google for the answer to everything in our lives, research has shown that we’re becoming less savvy at learning basic maintenance.
For example, 60 percent of US motorists can’t even change a flat tire.
With access to online tutorials from everything from plumbing to woodwork, getting to grips with DIY tasks has never been easier.
23) Drink more water
Not a groundbreaking personal goal but they don’t all need to be.
If you are looking for something that is free to do, you can start right away, and will give you near-instant results — it doesn’t come much simpler than drinking more water.
If you have a bad habit of reaching for sugary juices and pops this is especially a good swap to consider.
The health benefits of upping your hydration levels are almost too numerous to mention but include things like flushing out toxins, regulating body temperature, and wrinkle prevention.
24) Meditate regularly
I almost didn’t add mediation as it feels like one of those self-development cliches that are automatically added to every personal goals list — but for good reason.
A lot of people tell me that they can’t meditate because they struggle to sit still for long enough — but the truth is that everyone feels this way.
Doing absolutely nothing, learning to sit in silence with our thoughts, and pushing past the discomfort is part of the meditation practice.
Anyway, don’t listen to me, take it from the Dalai Lama that we all feel frustrated when meditating.
25) Work less, live more
Granted, if you’re Gary Vaynerchuk — who seems to glorify hustle — you may not agree with me on this one.
I was discussing today how I think we should reclaim the verb idle for the beautiful concept it actually is — rather than a lazy or workshy way it is too often interpreted.
Look the word up in a thesaurus and you’ll see is defined as: “do nothing, take it easy, kick back, sit back”
Which, if you ask me, are things that are all too frequently missing in the world right now.
Reflecting on what is really most important to us and distributing our time accordingly is simply about creating a better balance in life.
When you are lying on your deathbed — hopefully, many years from now — what will you wish you had filled your time with?