There are two types of people in life: those with fixed mindsets and those with growth mindsets. People with fixed mindsets don’t have goals, so they never succeed. People with growth mindsets set out life goals and they take action to achieve them.
Be a person with a growth mindset by setting out personal goals for your life. Setting goals increases your chances of success 3x (Milne, Orbell & Sheeran, 2002).
Your first step will be to set your goals, both long-term and short-term. These will act as the guiding lights, instructing you on how to take the right actions to head in the right direction.
Your long-term goals might span over 5 to 25 years. You might have one or two, like “be healthy into my late 70s”, “build a million-dollar company” or “get a PhD in my subject area”.
To get there, you need short-term goals: “exercise for 180 minutes a week, every week”, “create a business plan”, or “apply for five grad schools within two months.”
Let’s look at some life goals you might want to set. For these goals, I’ll be using the SMART Goals framework. This framework will be explained in more detail at the end of the article, and I’ll provide a template for you to to copy, paste, and turn the goals that you select from this list into true S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Goals for Life
Short-Term Goals for Life
1. Become a Reader: Complete “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee by reading one chapter per day for the next 31 days.
2. Exercise More: Establish a daily exercise routine by jogging for 30 minutes every morning, five days a week, for a total of 10 hours of exercise within a month.
3. Culinary Skills Improvement: Master the art of making homemade pasta by following a specific recipe, practicing each Saturday for the next 2 months and aiming to reduce preparation time to 60 minutes.
4. Hobby Creation: Take up photography by conducting a photo walk each weekend for the next 3 months, capturing at least ten distinctive sights per walk, to produce a portfolio of 120 photographs.
5. Time Management Mastery: Limit social media usage to no more than 90 minutes a day for the next month, tracking time spent online with a time management app.
6. Improve Sleep Quality: Enhance bedtime consistency by establishing a sleep schedule that requires being in bed by 10 PM and waking up at 6 AM every day for the next 30 days.
7. Learn a New Language: Begin learning Spanish by committing 15 minutes every weekday on a language app for the next 2 months, aiming to complete the beginner’s course.
8. Stress Reduction: Engage in 10 minutes of mindful meditation every morning before starting the day for the next 45 days, monitoring stress levels with a wellness journal.
9. Healthier Nutrition: Incorporate fruits or vegetables into every meal for the next month, tracking intake via a food app.
10. Financial Stability: Save $300 over the next 3 months by reducing weekly restaurant outings, monitoring expenses with a budgeting tool.
11. Emotional Intelligence Growth: Practice deep breathing exercises for 10 minutes every day for 30 days to better manage emotions.
12. Self-care Enrichment: Commit to a weekly night of self-care (hot bath, a book, facial mask) for the next 10 weeks.
13. Technological Skill Enhancement: Master Microsoft Excel basics by completing an online course within the next 60 days.
14. Yoga Proficiency: Attend yoga classes two times a week for the next 90 days to improve balance and flexibility.
15. Energy Management: Reduce caffeine intake to a maximum of two cups of coffee a day over the next 7 weeks.
16. Journaling Habit: Create a gratitude journal and make entries every night before bed for the next 31 days.
17. Cooking Skills Expansion: Master the art of baking bread from scratch by practicing every weekend for the next two months.
18. Mentorship Pursuit: Find a career mentor in your field within the next 60 days by reaching out to professionals on LinkedIn.
See Also: Goals for a Mentorship
19. Organization Aptitude: Organize one room in your house every weekend for the next 3 months to promote a more decluttered living space.
20. Task Efficiency: Master the practice of the Pomodoro Technique (25 minutes work, 5 minutes break) over the next four weeks to enhance productivity.
21. Financial Literacy: Read one book on financial management within the next 30 days to increase personal finance understanding.
22. Assertiveness Development: Practice saying ‘no’ at least once a day for 30 days to strengthen boundaries.
23. Relationship Building: Call or meet one friend every week for the next 12 weeks to strengthen social connections.
24. Continuing Education: Register for an online class in a field of interest and complete it within 90 days.
See Also: Short-Term Goals for Students
25. Eco-Friendliness: Reduce single-use plastic consumption by 50% within the next 2 months by switching to reusable items.
26. Podcast Listener: Complete listening to a 12-episode podcast series by committing to one episode a week.
27. Healthy Hydration: Drink 2 liters of water daily for the next 30 days, tracking intake with a hydration app.
28. Driving Skills: Pass your driving test within the next month by scheduling regular practice sessions.
29. Business Networking: Attend at least one networking event a month for the next three months to expand your business connections.
30. Book Club Joining: Become part of a book club within the next 60 days to enhance your literary discussion skills.
31. Sugar Reduction: Decrease the sugar intake by half in the next 60 days, replacing sugary snacks with healthy alternatives.
32. Concert Attendance: Attend a virtual or live concert of a favorite band within the next two months.
33. Vegetable Gardening: Plant a vegetable garden within the next 90 days and harvest at least three crops.
34. Volunteering Participation: Spend 15 hours over the next three months volunteering in your community.
35. Walking Habit: Take a 30-minute walk every day for the next 30 days.
36. Balanced Diet: Follow a nutritionally balanced diet for 30 days, tracking meals with a health app.
37. Personal Writing Practice: Write 500 words per day for the next 30 days to improve your writing skills.
38. Dance Learning: Learn a new dance form within the next three months by attending weekly dance classes.
39. Tech Detox: Set aside one day a week as a technology-free day for the next 60 days.
40. Artistic Exploration: Create one new art piece every week for the next eight weeks to stimulate creativity.
See Also: Examples of Short-Term Career Goals
41. Regular Donations: Donate 10% of your income for the next three months to a charitable organization.
42. Mindful Eating: Practice mindful eating at every meal for the next 30 days, savoring each bite and assessing hunger/fullness cues.
43. Pet Training: Teach your dog a new command every fortnight for the next 10 weeks.
44. Office Administration: Organize your office or work space thoroughly within the next two weeks to augment your productivity.
45. Screen Timing: Limit your screen time to three hours a day for the next 30 days.
46. Sustainable Living: Practice waste segregation at home for the next three months.
47. News Update: Allocate 30 minutes every morning to catch up with the daily news for the next 45 days.
48. Local Discovery: Explore your city by visiting one new spot every weekend for the next three months.
49. Backyard Makeover: Transform your backyard by planting one new plant every week for the next 12 weeks.
50. Classical Music: Familiarize yourself with 10 classical music pieces by listening to one a week.
51. Email Management: Maintain a zero-unread-email policy for 30 consecutive days by allotting dedicated time daily for email management.
52. Hand-lettering Talent: Learn hand-lettering basics by completing a beginner’s course within 2 months.
53. Running Stamina: Build up to running 5K without stopping within the next 10 weeks using a gradual training plan.
54. Closet Organization: Declutter your closet within the next three weeks through a systematic review and disposal of unused items.
55. Mind Mapping Introduction: Map out all your major tasks and projects for a month using a mind mapping tool.
56. Language Art: Deliver a five-minute speech in a foreign language within the next two months by diligently practicing daily.
57. Cycling Endurance: Cycle 50 kilometers in a single trip within the next 3 months using strategic training and planning.
58. Budget Adherence: Stick to a pre-decided spending limit for 30 consecutive days to teach financial discipline.
59. CPR Knowledge: Obtain CPR certification online within the next six weeks.
60. Museum Patronage: Visit a local museum you haven’t been to before within the next 60 days.
61. Debt Management: Pay off a specific, small outstanding debt within the next 90 days by wisely managing finances.
62. Composting Habit: Begin composting kitchen waste for the next three months for a greener lifestyle.
63. Film Interest: Watch the top 10 films from a chosen genre (e.g., classic noir) within the next 10 weeks, watching one film per week.
64. Plant Care: Keep a house plant alive for 90 days, demonstrating an understanding of basic plant care.
65. Chess Mastery: Learn to master the game of chess by practicing one hour per week for the next 12 weeks.
66. Tea Tasting: Try 10 different types of tea over the next 10 weeks, purchasing and brewing a new variety each week.
67. Indoor Gym Setup: Set up a small home gym in the next six weeks, acquiring one piece of equipment each week.
68. Time Boxing: Follow the time-boxing method consistently for 30 working days to improve work productivity.
69. Baking Fun: Bake and decorate a cake within the next month by carefully following an online tutorial.
70. Skincare Routine: Establish a daily skincare routine and follow it religiously for the next 30 days.
71. DIY Project: Complete a DIY furniture-building project within six weeks, implementing one stage every week.
72. Fasting Discipline: Complete intermittent fasting (16:8) successfully for 30 days.
73. Scriptwriting: Write a 10-minute script for a short play or film within the next six weeks.
74. Vintage Record Collection: Start a vintage music record collection, acquiring 5 records over the next 50 days.
75. Camping Experience: Plan and complete a camping trip over a weekend in the next three months.
Long-Term Goals for Life
76. Home Ownership: Save up for a 20% down payment on a house within the next 5 years by diligently putting aside a certain portion of income monthly.
77. Advanced Education: Obtain a master’s degree in your field of interest in the next 4 years by enrolling in a suitable academic program.
See Also: Long-term Goals for Students
78. Fitness Attainment: Run a full marathon in under 4 hours within the next 4 years, progressively escalating your training program.
79. Entrepreneurship: Start your own business in the next 3 years, developing a business plan and securing necessary funding.
80. Health Commitment: Maintain a healthy weight within BMI guidelines over the next 10 years by adhering to a regular exercise plan and a balanced diet.
81. Investment Strategy: Build an investment portfolio worth $100,000 in the next 15 years by investing a consistent sum of money every month.
82. Sustainable Living: Become completely self-sufficient in vegetable production within the next 5 years, gradually increasing the variety and yield.
83. Professional Evolution: Achieve a director-level position in your current line of work in the next 7 years, formulating and following a structured career development plan.
84. Language Acquisition: Achieve fluency in Spanish within the next 5 years by taking advanced classes and immersing in native speaking environments.
See Also: 5-year Goals Examples.
85. Global Experience: Visit all seven continents within the next 25 years by planning, saving, and executing one trip at a time.
86. Philanthropy Engagement: Set up a charitable foundation in your name within the next 15 years, saving and planning for the legal and operational details.
87. Autobiographical Record: Write and publish your memoir within the next 10 years, starting to jot down key life experiences immediately.
88. Diversification in Reading: Read at least 1000 books covering various genres in the next 20 years, allocating regular time for reading daily.
89. Property Investment: Invest in two rental properties in the next 10 years by planning and saving for suitable real estate opportunities.
90. Family Planning: Start a family and raise two kids in the next 10 years, providing them with love, care, and education.
See Also: 10 Year Goals Examples
91. Debt Freedom: Become completely debt-free in the next 7 years by setting up and following a detailed debt repayment plan.
92. Higher Education Teaching: Become a university lecturer in your field within the next 10 years, by gaining needed qualifications and experience.
93. Musical Proficiency: Learn to play the piano proficiently in the next 5 years, scheduling regular lessons and practice sessions.
94. Energy Consciousness: Install and switch to solar power for your home within the next 8 years, saving and planning for the installation process.
95. Heritage Appreciation: Research and document your family tree up to five generations back within the next 10 years.
96. Art Collection: Acquire and curate a personal collection of 50 pieces of art within the next 15 years.
97. Passive Income Stream: Develop a reliable stream of passive income that covers your basic expenses within the next 10 years.
98. Public Speaking Skill: Speak at a TEDx event within the next 5 years, continuously enhancing your public speaking skills and networking.
99. Authorship Goal: Write and publish a bestselling novel in the next 10 years, dedicating regular time for writing and editing.
100. Professional Consultancy: Establish yourself as an expert in your field and start a consultative service within the next 5 years, by acquiring knowledge and creating a broad network.
See Also: Long-Term Career Goals
101. Intellectual Pursuit: Earn a Ph.D. in your chosen field within the next 8 years, focusing on a specialized research topic.
102. Retirement Readiness: Build a retirement fund that can sustain your current lifestyle for 20 years, starting 25 years from now.
103. Wildlife Conservation Participation: Dedicate a year to working with a wildlife conservation organization, 10 years down the line.
104. Professional Credential: Obtain a professional license (like CPA, PE, etc.) in your field within the next 5 years to enhance job prospects.
105. Artistic Portfolio Compilation: Build a portfolio of 50 distinctive paintings over the next 8 years, maintaining a steady habit of painting.
106. Community Service: Spend 5 years in community service within your local area, starting the planning and execution process now.
107. Recreational Goal: Hike the entire Appalachian trail over a period of 6 months, 10 years from today.
108. Personal Fitness: Achieve and maintain your ideal weight within the next 3 to 5 years through a healthy diet and routine exercise.
109. Expertise Recognition: Become recognized as an expert in your professional field in the next 10 years, with regular contributions to the field.
110. Travel Adventure: Sail across the Atlantic on a personal yacht within the next 20 years.
111. Agriculture Interest: Dedicate one year to live and work on a farm, 15 years down the road.
112. Patience and Resilience: Over the next 10 years, develop a strong meditation practice where you meditate for at least one hour daily.
113. Personal Exploration: Travel around the world in a year, with at least two decades of proper planning and saving.
114. Urban Development Contribution: Contribute to a significant urban development project in your community within the next two decades.
115. Heritage Preservation: Restore and modernize a historic home over a period of 10 years, maintaining as much of its original character as possible.
116. Cultural Immersion: Live for a year in a different culture (like Japan or France), aiming to do so 20 years from now.
117. Health Awareness: Within the next 10 years, run a health-related non-profit that provides resources and support for a disease or health issue of personal significance.
118. Ethical Business: Establish a social enterprise that addresses a social issue and is sustainable, planning to do this 15 years from today.
119. Scientific Contribution: Contribute significantly to scientific research in your field within the next 25 years.
120. Early Retirement: Retire 5 years earlier than the traditional age by building a sufficient retirement fund.
121. Music Proficiency: Master an instrument like the violin to a grade 8 level in the next 10 years, consistently taking lessons and practicing.
122. Teaching Aspiration: Become a professor at a prestigious university, aiming for this 20 years down the line.
123. Renewable Energy Adoption: Transition your entire lifestyle to use 100% renewable energy sources within the next 25 years.
124. Veteran Support: Over the next 10 years, create a program that offers support and resources to veterans transitioning to civilian life.
125. Real Estate Investment: Own property in three different countries, aiming to achieve this in the next 25 years.
126. Leadership Goal: Become the CEO of a leading organization in your field in the next 15 years, constantly upgrading your skills and knowledge.
See Also: A List of Leadership Goals
127. Innovative Entrepreneurship: Launch a technology startup that aligns with future market needs within the next 10 years.
128. Foreign Living Experience: Live abroad in a non-English speaking country for at least one year within the next decade.
129. Green Lifestyle: Be living a zero-waste lifestyle within the next 15 years by reducing and reorganising consumptions.
130. Multilingualism: Become proficient in at least three languages in the next 20 years by regular learning and practice.
131. Professional Excellence: Gain top-tier professional recognition (like a Nobel Prize or an Oscar) in your field within the next 15 years.
132. Investment Prowess: Create a diverse stock portfolio that outperforms the market over the next 10 years.
133. Health Contribution: Discover or significantly contribute to the cure for a disease within the next 20 years.
134. Sport Mastery: Master a sport like golf to a semi-professional level in the next 7 years, consistently honing your skills.
135. Philanthropic Endowment: Create a scholarship fund that will aid select students each year to discover and unleash their potentials, achieving this in 20 years.
136. Career Switch: Prepare and successfully transition to a completely different career field within the next 10 years.
137. Eco-Conscious Travel: Visit every national park in your country within the next 15 years, exploring at least one or two parks each year.
138. Financial Security: Reach financial independence — where you live on the returns of your investments — within the next 20 years.
139. Climate Change Activism: Lead a climate change initiative that accomplishes a significant influence in policy-making within the next 25 years.
140. Historical Research: Write and publish a well-researched historical book within the next 10 years.
141. Artisan Skills: Become a highly skilled potter or ceramics artist in the next 5 years by consistently taking lessons and practicing.
142. Early Learning Center: Open a successful early learning center in your local community in the next 10 years.
143. Classical Literature: Read all of the works by a classical author (like William Shakespeare or Jane Austen) within the next 10 years.
144. Nature Conservation Advocate: Influence government policy on nature conservation in your country within the next 15 years.
145. Personal Pilgrimage: Complete a religious or personal pilgrimage (like Camino de Santiago) in the next 10 years.
146. Distinctive Architecture: Design and build your dream house, achieving this in the next 20 years.
147. Personal Brand Development: Grow your personal brand to have at least 1 million followers within the next 15 years.
148. Local Sports Teams: Become the sponsor of a local sports team in the next 5 years.
149. Musical Composition: Compose an original symphony and have it publicly performed within the next 20 years.
150. Public Service: Serve a term as the mayor or representative of your town/city within the next 25 years.
151. Health and Fitness Inspiration: Become a certified fitness instructor and open your own fitness training center, providing a healthier lifestyle to hundreds of people over the next 20 years.
Make SMART Life Goals
After looking through the life goals listed above, select some that resonate with you. What would be best is to select short-term goals that match and support your long-term goals for life.
Now you’ve selected them, build on them by using the S.M.A.R.T. Goalsetting Framework (Doran, 1981; Latham & Locke, 2018). This framework asks you to build out your goals using five criteria: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Here is what each element means:
- Specific: Your goal needs to be specific, meaning it’s clear and not vague. You need to be able to explain your goal and write down what it looks like (Milne, Orbell & Sheeran, 2002).
- Measurable: You need to be able to measure your progress toward achieving your goal. Set out milestones or a means for measuring progress, such as tests or self-reflections after a certain number of weeks or months.
- Achievable: Your long-term goal for your whole life might not feel achievable just yet, but your short-term goal certainly needs to be realistically achievable. Make a note about how and why you feel it can be achieved.
- Relevant: This one’s also specifically for your short-term goals. How is your short-term life goal relevant to your overall long-term life goal? It should feed into your progress toward that larger goal.
- Time-Based: The long-term goal might take 25 years (e.g. ‘pay off my mortgage’) while the short-term one might be just one or two weeks. Write down how long it will take, to put pressure on yourself to start acting on it rather than putting it off over and over again.
To help you to set your SMART goals for life, I’ve created this SMART Goals template that you can print and fill out for yourself:
Davis, W. D., Mero, N., & Goodman, J. M. (2007). The interactive effects of goal orientation and accountability on task performance. Human Performance, 20(1), 1-21. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/08959280709336926
Daw, N. D. (2015). Of goals and habits. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(45), 13749-13750. doi: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1518488112
Doran, G. T. (1981). There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives. Journal of Management Studies, 70-75.
Ehrlich, C., & Milston, S. (2021). Happiness through goal setting: A practical guide to reflect on and change the reasons why you pursue your most important goals in life. London: Routledge.
Latham G.P., Locke E.A. (2018) Goal Setting Theory. In The SAGE Encyclopedia of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. London: SAGE.
Milne, S., Orbell, S., and Sheeran, P. (2002). Combining Motivational and Volitional Interventions to Promote Exercise Participation: Protection Motivation Theory and Implementation Intentions, British Journal of Health Psychology, 7(2): 163–184. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1348/135910702169420
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]