Exploring personal goal examples and setting personal goals helps people achieve growth and make social progress.
The best possible society will emerge when people are able to satisfy their basic needs, including the need to develop their unique passions.
This concept was a foundational belief for Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), the influential American psychologist known for creating the hierarchy of needs, and for being one of the founders of the humanistic psychology movement — a school of thought characterized by the belief that “every person has the strong desire to realize their full potential and reach a level of ‘self-actualization.’ ”
People set personal goals to become healthy and effective in their own unique manner.
When you set personal goals, you are creating the conditions to develop your unique passions and contribute to your ideal, best society.
What do goals help people to achieve?
In the following 20 personal goal examples, you will discover that personal goals can help people to experience growth in every domain of life and all areas of personal achievement.
Personal goals can help people to achieve: (1) security, (2) safety, (3) self-esteem, (4) growth, (5) love, (6) purpose and (7) transcendence in every domain of life including spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical, marital, parental, social, vocational, avocational, or financial.
What are personal goals?
Personal goals are a device bringing together the worlds of spirit and matter — dreams and reality — vision and material.
On one end of the goal is a fantastic world that you are obsessed and in love with, and on the other end is the real world — with all the difficulties of physical existence. And a personal goal is the essential link between those two very important, disparate worlds.
People set goals so that they can bring their ideas to life.
Achieving personal goals will help you harmonize the contradictions that block you from your inherent creativity, growth, purpose, inspiration, and transcendence or help you attain more basic human needs like safety and connection.
20 Personal Goal Examples
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is not a simple linear projection or a series of skills people attain and graduate from.
Basic needs are not just boxes to be checked off and forgotten. People’s strengths and weaknesses evolve and change over a lifetime.
Here are 20 personal goal examples that follow the total range of one’s human needs: security, safety, self-esteem, growth, love, and transcendence.
1. Improve your attitude — immediately
Evaluating and improving your attitude will help you succeed.
A bad attitude of pessimism and helplessness, with a resistance to change, will block your efforts and produce a low potential for change.
If you have thoughts like, “nothing I do matters, or I always lose”, then make your number one goal improving your attitude and overcoming habits of learned helplessness.
2. Practice being more compassionate
It feels good to be compassionate.
You feel better about yourself and your environment when you are kind, caring, loving, and devoted to others.
Also, practicing compassion releases the hormone oxytocin leading to an experience of greater happiness and optimism in life, two traits that are linked to success.
Doing the Loving-Kindness Meditation once a day is one way to start a regular practice of compassion.
You’ll feel better, you’ll be better, and you’ll inspire others.
3. Learn to appreciate adversity
Learning to appreciate adversity will help you to more fully appreciate your life.
Your difficulties can be transformed into opportunities for growth.
Journaling for 15-20 minutes a day on the difficult and most stressful events in your life can help you build a meaningful relationship with these events.
The stressful situations that create the biggest impact on people’s lives are natural disasters, illness, accidents, and assaults.
While not everyone has had deeply traumatizing experiences in their life, all people have suffered. And you can benefit by making it a personal goal to accept and learn from your suffering.
4. Develop your ability to be patient
Patience is modifiable, meaning that patience is a quality that you can develop.
It isn’t a character trait, it is a skill. And this is a skill that is worth developing because it will affect all aspects of your life.
An increase in patience will affect your well-being, your spiritual life, your mental ability, your wealth, and your relationships.
Patience is especially helpful in decreasing depression, increasing well-being, and assisting with goal achievement.
To develop your patience, start a daily practice of the Mindfulness of Breath Meditation.
5. Eat well, sleep more and exercise
Studies show that diet, sleep and exercise are the foundation for health, and a healthy lifestyle contributes greatly to both physical and mental health.
If you have not made personal goals relating to your eating habits, exercise routines, and sleep schedule, start now.
Your health is one of your greatest resources in life and it’s worth investing in.
6. Listen to what people are saying
Being a good listener is an indicator of social curiosity, and it is a marker of a self-actualized person.
According to Abraham Maslow, self-actualized people are those who have gone beyond their need for security and are in pursuit of a “good” life.
Social curiosity — the activity of being intensely interested in others, how other people make decisions, and what motivates them — will help you learn about the world, make new friends and be deeply connected and satisfied in your relationships.
You can practice active listening with your friends by asking open-ended questions that start with “Why?,” “How?,” and, “What if?”
These questions will require a full answer from them and require good listening skills from you.
7. Focus on sameness, not on difference
Difference encourages status and friction.
Sameness encourages connection and cooperation.
When people meet for the first time, to make social cohesion they naturally find a way to connect over a mutually shared experience, such as a connection to a mutual friend, or commenting on a shared experience like the weather, etc.
However, once a connection is achieved, each party usually asserts a status marker, overtly or subtly mentioning what school they went to or where they work, etc.
While status markers can be helpful in some situations, they can be combative or unnecessarily competitive.
Instead focusing on social unity, solidarity and sameness, helps us to engender more peaceful interactions.
The personal goal to focus on sameness not difference will help create a more humanitarian kinder experience in social situations.
8. Stay present to what’s good
In a difficult situation or a challenging relationship, stay present to what’s good about it.
This isn’t a psychological technique of asserting a positive state, rather it is the activity of looking for examples of what’s good, happy, or successful in any situation.
For example, don’t just tell yourself over and over again that you love and appreciate someone who disgusts you.
Instead, make a personal goal to find something about a hateful person that you can appreciate or admire.
Maybe you can appreciate your tyrant boss’s ability to inspire your team at meetings, or perhaps you discover that a toxic complainer in your life donates her free time to charity.
These observations can restore your faith in goodness and surprise you.
9. Build on what’s already working for you now
It’s always worthwhile to recognize what’s working for you now so that you can build on your achievements.
This is especially important when your personal goals are ambitious or if you are feeling overwhelmed.
If you can see what you are doing well, you can take one small step, move an inch towards your achievement and connect your current successes to your future accomplishments.
10. Decide to be ambitious
Your personal goals will be hard to reach if they are not ambitious enough to excite you.
If you want to accomplish any personal goal, be bold and be courageous.
Wish to exceed yourself.
Beat your expectations.
Don’t focus on what’s doable or get caught by the realistic “R” in SMART goals. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Specific, and Measurable.)
The “R,” — the reasonable, the realistic, the relevant — can steal your excitement by thwarting your desire to reach for something inspired and fantastic.
Set a personal goal to be ambitious.
11. Push your creativity to new levels
From comedians to physicists, creative people use their intuition and imagination just as much as, if not more than, their rationality and careful reasoning.
Human intelligence is accelerated when you are completely absorbed in a personally meaningful activity that engages your logical mind and your depth of emotional experience.
Having a personal goal to work more creatively or take on a creative project can give rise to a deeper, more satisfying experience of life and engage the whole of your being. (Kaufman, p.117)
12. Learn a new skill
Learning a new skill is a kind of mental exploration that can help you become more adventurous.
Uncertainty can be a source of anxiety, but it is often necessary to leave the safety of familiarity.
Getting used to uncertainty and being comfortable with adventure can help you become more adaptable and flexible.
Setting a personal goal to learn a new skill can be a gentle way to push your boundaries and engage in a mental journey.
13. Let go of perfectionism
Shedding a perfectionistic attitude towards self-presentation is a significant way to overcome low self-esteem.
Because self-esteem corresponds closely with life satisfaction, and low self-esteem is one of the biggest risk factors for depression, letting go of perfectionism can be a deeply rewarding personal goal to achieve.
14. Surround yourself with good people
By exploring the negative consequences of surrounding yourself with the wrong people, Skip Prichard in The Book of Mistakes makes a good case for having the personal goal to surround yourself with good people.
Here is what he says:
o Friends will determine your fate.
o Who you are around determines where you go.
o Don’t spend more time picking out clothes than picking out your friends.
o Toxic people are often more dangerous and create more damage than we realize.
o Replace naysayers, doubters, and energy drainers with encouragers, winners, and motivators.
o Remove people from your life who consistently drain your energy.
o Surround yourself with people who will help you achieve your purpose.
15. Fall in love with your future self
To fall in love with your future self might seem like a weird goal, but it can be a powerful and transformational tool.
It is based on the long-term studies of creativity researcher Paul Torrance.
In his work, he concluded that life’s most exciting moments are when our struggling and striving are transformed into a dazzling new image of our future self.
If you can commit to personal goals that are highly integrated with a vivid vision of your future self — one that you are in love with — you will be far more likely to succeed.
16. Spend more time in peak experience
Peak experiences are moments or states of unity.
They give us complete absorption, richer perception, heightened aestheticism, wonder, awe, and surrender.
Peak experiences are correlated with generosity, life satisfaction, decreased aggression, increase in religious spiritual feeling and action.
Areas of life in which you can develop peak experience include religious devotion and spiritual practice, communing with nature, and The Loving-Kindness Meditation.
17. Read more books
Reading books has so many benefits that deciding to read more books can be an incredibly valuable personal goal.
Studies show that reading helps to reduce stress, improve your sleep, increase your brain health, develop higher self-esteem and help you better deal with challenges.
Plus it’s simple, inexpensive, and enjoyable!
18. Eliminate one bad thing
It can be overwhelming thinking about what you want from life and recognizing all of the things that you want to change or achieve.
But you can start by eliminating one bad thing that is holding you back.
Try it today. Name one bad thing, just one, and get rid of it.
It can be big or small.
The point is to make one change, get momentum and feel the difference.
19. Limit your focus
Warren Buffet advises that you should be focused on only three things at a time.
Regardless of how you feel about Mr. Buffet, you have to admit he is successful.
And one piece of advice from very successful people that is repeated over and over, is that it’s unwise to do too many things at one time.
Your attention becomes diffuse, and you are too distracted to effectively accomplish anything.
So, choose wisely, stay focused, and if you have a lot of goals, focus on the most important ones first, before moving on to any of the others.
20. Develop your purpose
Stay focused on the things that bring more meaning and purpose to your life and you will be happier and more satisfied for doing so.
“Goals that are conducive to growth — mastery, self-improvement, creativity, connection, contribution to society — are likely to lead to greater well-being than goals concerned with status and driven by insecurity — attaining power, money, appearance, self-esteem or popularity.” (Kaufman, 160)
If you’ve been inspired by these personal goal examples, you’ve decided on the goals you’d like to achieve — and you’ve made sure that these are the goals you want to commit to because they will help you to become amazing in your unique manner, then you can begin to work towards realizing your goals.
First, check to be sure your goals fit a few criteria.
1) You are totally in love with the goal. You know that you want to achieve it.
2) You have a clear vision of the goal. You can feel what it would be like to achieve it.
3) The goal is absolutely necessary in your life; you refuse to live without achieving it.
4) Your goal is challenging. It is more than a little bit scary — but not so scary that you give up and walk away.
Once you’ve made it through this list and you’re ready to get to work on your goals, there are a lot of exciting ways you can do this.
A great place to start is by exploring goal setting techniques and finding the approach that works for you.
But the most important thing is to find your way forward. Make the first step, even though that first step can be the hardest.
Go out there and take it — that first giant step.