Ideas for self-improvement goals can include creating a daily fitness plan, a healthy eating plan, or setting in place a meditation routine.
Generally, I recommend using the SMART goal setting framework to help put in place actionable goals.
Smart Goals refer to the acronym “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound” (Locke & Latham, 2013). Each goal you set for self-improvement should have these key characteristics.
Here is a brief introduction to each objective in the SMART framework:
- Specific: Your goal needs to be well defined and clear (Locke & Latham, 2013). For instance, instead of just deciding to “eat healthier”, you would define the goal as “eat three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruits daily”. By being very precise about what you want to achieve, you increase your chances of success.
- Measurable: You should be able to measure your progress and know how far you have to go to meet your goal. For example, with the specific goal of eating fruits and vegetables daily, you can measure your progress each day by checking off each time you ate a serving.
- Achievable: your goal needs to be realistic and you should have the means to obtain it (Schultz, 2018). Plainly put, if you have a goal to become a millionaire in a week, it’s probably not achievable. Conversely, setting a goal to save $50 a week from your weekly income might be more feasible.
- Relevant: The goal should make sense in the bigger picture of what you want to achieve in your life. Returning to the goal of eating fruits and vegetables, such a goal is relevant to your larger health and wellness targets.
- Time-Bound: Assigning a deadline to your goal ensures that you work towards it, and do not simply endlessly defer its completion. In the aforementioned goal, ensuring that you are consistently eating fruits and vegetables every day for the next month serves as a concrete time frame.
Effective utilization of this SMART goals strategy can enhance self-improvement efforts by providing a clear, organized path to achievement (Latham & Locke, 2018).
Let’s take a look at some self-improvement objectives you can set in place using the SMART goals framework.
Goals for Self-Improvement
1. Walking – Walk for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for the next 3 months to improve cardiovascular health.
2. Join a Gym – Join a local gym and go for strength training at least thrice a week for the next 6 months.
3. Fruit and Vegetables – Consume 5 portions of fruits and vegetables daily for a healthier eating lifestyle over the coming 3 months.
4. Run a Marathon – Participate in a local marathon in six months.
5. Aerobics – Do a 30-minute aerobic exercise routine thrice a week for the next 2 months.
6. Less Sugar – Limit intake of processed sugars to under 25 grams a day for the next 3 months.
7. Steps – Select stairs over the elevator for the next 2 months to increase daily physical activity.
8. Superfoods – Incorporate a nutrient-rich superfood in each meal for the next 30 days.
9. Mindfulness – Practice mindfulness meditation for 15 minutes daily for a month, using guided instructions from a mindfulness app.
10. Yoga – Practice yoga for 20 minutes daily after work for a month to promote mental calmness.
11. Sleep Aid Apps – Use a sleep-aid app for 30 minutes before bedtime every day for a month for better sleep quality.
12. Tech Detox – Keep technology off for 1 hour before bed every day for the next month to improve sleep hygiene.
13. Screen Time – Decrease screen time by 15 minutes each day for the next month.
14. Brain Training – Spend 10 minutes each day on a brain-training app for the next month.
15. Disconnect – Disconnect from electronic devices after 8 PM every day for better sleep over the next month.
16. Self-Help Literature – Read a self-help book focusing on mental health in the next 2 months.
17. News Limits – Limit daily news consumption to 30 minutes for better mental health over the next month.
18. Reflection – Reflect on personal growth and write about it in a journal once a week for the next 6 months.
19. Planning – Set aside an hour each week for personal planning for the next 3 months.
20. Hobby – Start a new hobby or revisit an old one, dedicating at least an hour each week for the next 3 months.
21. Quality Time – Spend an uninterrupted hour daily engaging in a family activity for the next month.
22. Become the Cook – Plan and cook a family meal once a week for the next 2 months.
23. Family Meetings – Initiate a weekly family meeting to discuss highs, lows, and anything that needs to be addressed for the next 3 months.
24. Thoughtful Gestures – Surprise each family member with a thoughtful gesture/actions (like their favorite meal, help with a task) once weekly for the next month.
25. Family Outings – Set up monthly family outings or activities according to everyone’s interests for the next six months.
26. Positive Paranting – Read a book on positive parenting or family relationships within the next 2 months for better family bonding.
27. Play Time – Play a 15-minute game with your child or children daily before bedtime for the next month.
28. Homework Help – Help with homework or school projects for your child or children at least twice a week for the next month.
29. Family Tradition – Start a fun family tradition (like a movie night or a baking Sunday) and maintain it monthly for the next year.
30. Feelings Journal – Dedicate 10 minutes a day to journaling about feelings and reactions to daily events, every day for the next 6 weeks, to better understand and manage emotions.
31. Workshopping – Participate in an online emotional intelligence workshop within the next six months.
32. Empathy Breaks – Take a 5-minute empathy break each day for a month, considering the experiences and feelings of others.
33. Podcasting – Spend 15 minutes each day listening to an emotional intelligence podcast for the next month.
34. Reflecting – Reflect on others’ perspectives before responding in conversations for the next month.
35. Mentorship – Find a mentor or coach and schedule monthly meetings for the next 6 months to improve emotional awareness.
See Also: 101 Goals for Mentorship
36. Save Up – Save $200 from the monthly income every month for the next 1 year to amass a rainy day fund.
37. Budget – Make a detailed family budget for the next month and stick to it to improve financial management.
38. Invest – Invest 20% of monthly income into a retirement fund every month for the next 2 years.
39. Pay Down Debt – Pay off 10% of total credit card debt within the next 6 months.
40. Cut Unnecessary Costs – Identify and cut one unnecessary item from your monthly expenses for the next quarter.
41. Increase Savings – Increase savings by 5% within the next six months.
42. Improve Credit Rating – Check the credit report and improve the score by 10 points within 6 months.
43. Personal Finance Education – Read a personal finance book to improve financial literacy within the next 2 months.
44. Cut the Luxuries – Decrease monthly luxury spending by 15% for the next 3 months.
45. Investment Plan – Research and develop an investment plan within the next 2 months.
46. New Certification – Complete a professional certification in the current field of work in the next 6 months to better job prospects.
47. Coding Skills – Assign 30 minutes a day for refreshing coding skills, five days a week for the next three months.
48. Networking – Dedicate 1 hour every week to networking, physically or virtually, for job progression over the next three months.
49. Seek Feedback – Ask for and implement feedback from manager after every project for continual learning over the next year.
50. LinkedIn – Upgrade the LinkedIn profile and engage with one post per day for the next month.
51. Online Course – Dedicate half an hour daily for a career-related online course for the next 3 months.
52. Promotion – Look for a more senior role or an assignment in a different department within the organisation in the next 6 months.
53. Technical Skill Development – Learn a new relevant skill using online tutorials for the next 6 months.
54. Job Applications – Apply to a minimum of 2 jobs a week in the desired field for the next 2 months.
55. Self-Education – Read one recent industry article per week for the next three months.
56. Broaden Horizons – Read one book on a new topic outside of the current field of expertise every month for the next year to broaden knowledge and perspective.
57. Language Learning – Dedicate two hours every weekend for language learning for 6 months.
58. Regular Puzzling – Complete one puzzle or game that challenges the brain every week for the next month.
59. Local History Tour – Take a local history tour or course within the next three months.
60. Read More Fiction – Spend an hour over the weekend reading a novel weekly for enjoyment and improvement of language skills over the next 2 months.
61. Online Course – Complete an online course in philosophy in the next 3 months to expand knowledge.
62. Documentaries – Watch a documentary on a new subject once a week for the next 2 months.
63. Book Club – Join a book club and read the assigned book each month for the next 6 months.
Read More: Educational Goals Examples
64. Learn Guitar – Spend 1 hour every week practicing the guitar over the next 4 months in order to be able to play a complete song.
65. Learn Photography – Devote two hours a week to photography classes for the next four months.
66. Learn Poetry – Write a poem or short story every week for the next 2 months and share it with friends or a writing group.
67. Sketch – Spend 30 minutes each day practicing sketching or drawing for the next 3 months.
68. Learn Pottery – Sign up for homemade pottery classes this month and dedicate an hour weekly for the next quarter.
69. Learn to Dance – Dedicate 2 hours per week to learn a new dance form over the next three months.
70. Cooking Classes – Take a cooking class in the next month and learn to prepare 3 new dishes.
71. Community Theater – Join a local community theatre and participate in their next production.
72. Painting – Dedicate 2 hours weekly for painting over the next 3 months.
73. Keep in Touch – Meet up with one friend per week, keeping social distancing regulations in mind, for the next 3 months to strengthen relationships.
74. Reconnect – Call an old friend once a week for the next 2 months.
75. Lend a Hand – Support a colleague with their workload for 30 minutes weekly over the next month.
76. Call your Mom – Plan a virtual meet-up with extended family every month for the next 3 months.
77. Colleague Connections – Allocate half an hour each week to catch up with a different colleague over the next three months.
78. Volunteer – Volunteer at a local community center or charity for two hours a week for the next six months.
79. Family Game Night – Plan and execute a monthly family game night for the next six months to improve family relationships.
80. Help a Neighbor – Reach out and help a neighbor with their chores once a month for the next quarter.
81. Join a Club – Join a local club or group related to a hobby or interest and attend meetings twice a month for the next 6 months.
82. Get a Mentor – Connect with a professional mentor and have a monthly catch-up for career guidance for the next six months.
83. Prayer – Dedicate 15 minutes daily for prayer or spiritual reflection for the next month.
84. Study Group – Join a spiritual study group and attend weekly sessions for the next 3 months.
85. Gratitude – Spend 10 minutes a day practicing gratitude for the next 30 days.
86. Spiritual Retreat – Attend a spiritual retreat or seminar in the next 6 months.
87. Spiritual Books – Read a spiritual book over the next 2 months.
88. Positive Affirmations – Start each day by writing down a positive affirmation and reflect on it throughout the day for the next month.
89. Volunteer at Church – Volunteer at a spiritual or religious institution once a week for the next three months.
90. Yoga or Tai Chi – Dedicate 20 minutes daily for yoga or tai chi for the next 2 months.
91. Nature Walks – Connect with nature by taking a walk in a park or nature reserve at least once a week for the next 2 months.
92. Spiritual Rituals – Participate in a spiritual ritual (like meditation, fasting, pilgrimage, etc.) for a week or as prescribed by your spiritual guide.
93. Community Gardening – Start a community garden or join an existing one and participate in gardening activities once a week for the next 6 months.
94. Water Conservation – Conserve water by implementing water-saving measures at home for the next 3 months.
95. Sustainability Initiative – Propose a sustainability initiative at work or school and work towards its implementation over the next six months.
96. Donate – Donate unwanted items to a local charity or organization once a month for the next 6 months.
97. Public Transit – Commit to using public transportation or carpooling to reduce carbon emissions for the next 3 months.
98. Volunteer – Volunteer for a cause or organization that aligns with personal values once a month for the next year.
99. Recycling – Implement a comprehensive recycling system in your home, categorizing waste into paper, plastic, glass, etc., for the next 3 months.
100. Community Cleanup – Organize a monthly neighborhood cleanup activity involving friends and neighbors for the next 4 months.
101. Sustainable Consumption – Commit to purchasing predominantly eco-friendly or locally sourced products to reduce carbon footprint for the next 2 months.
Once you’ve set your self-improvement goals, be sure to put in place some specific objectives or steps to get there – when will you start? What will your first step be? How will you know once you’ve achieved it? And so on. Only be being extremely clear about your path and taking action down that path will you achieve genuine self-improvement over the long term.
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.
Locke, E.A., & Latham, G.P. (2013). New Developments in Goal Setting and Task Performance. Routledge.
Latham G.P., Locke E.A. (2018) Goal Setting Theory. In The SAGE Encyclopedia of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. London: SAGE.
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]