Setting personal goals can help you to gain clarity and focus. The examples of personal goals I’ll present in this article will follow the SMART framework.
The SMART goals framework puts you in the best position to achieve success. The SMART acronym stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (Doran, 1981).
What are SMART Personal Goals?
Your personal goals should contain the following elements from the SMART Goals framework to maximize your chances of success:
- Specific: Aim to formulate specific targets (e.g., ‘I want to become proficient in Spanish to enhance my job prospects’). Focus on the who, what, when, where, and why to ensure your goals are specific.
- Measurable: Measurable aims facilitate tracking progression and confirming when the goal is met (e.g., ‘I will learn 50 new Spanish words every week’). To make your goals measurable, quantify them by including numerical or frequency variables.
- Achievable: Your goals should be realistically attainable. By ensuring your goals are achievable, you can maintain motivation and better position yourself for success.
- Relevant Goals: Relevance refers to selecting goals that matter to your personal development and professional journey, ensuring you are driven to realize them (Locke & Latham, 2019).
- Time-Bound Goals: Deadlines render goals less susceptible to procrastination, whereas open-ended goals may be relegated to ‘someday but not today.
Personal Goals Examples
1. Save for a Mortgage
Aim to build up enough savings to afford a down-payment on a house within the next 5 years.
2. Learn a New Language
Strive to become fluent in a second language to broaden your cultural understanding and professional prospects and potentially travel there!
3. Finally go Off-Grid
Endeavor to get solar panels, reduce your household waste by 50%, practice mindful consumption, and eventually end up being entirely self-sufficient.
4. Travel the World
Aim to visit three new countries in the next five years to expand your cultural horizons.
5. Retire Early
One of my personal long-term goals is to retire before 65. If I could shave 10 years off that, I’d be amazingly happy. This takes saving extra each month
See Also: List of 10 Year Goals
6. Write your Memoir
You might set as a long-term goal to write your personal memoir, and for now, you might be putting together the required information such as journal notes and newspaper clippings.
7. Run a Marathon
Train and prepare yourself to run a marathon in the next 3 years.
8. Learn and Instrument
In the next two years, set a goal to learn to play the piano daily until you reach a level where you can perform in a local recital.
9. Become a Partner in your Firm
Plan to earn a promotion to finally become a partner in the firm in the next ten years.
10. Meditation Practice Goal
Build a daily meditation habit of 20 minutes, consistently for the next 365 days, and then maybe forever.
11. Community Involvement Goal
Over the coming year, commit to volunteer a minimum of 100 hours at local community centers.
12. Have Kids
You and your partner might dream about having kids, but not be financially or otherwise ready, but you’d like to get there eventually.
13. Take the Kids on a Great American Roadtrip
This might require you to save up a lot of money, and time off work, and also potentially require a lot of planning, which is why I put it down as a longer-term goal.
14. Move to a New Country
You and your partner would love to live overseas for a whole year. It’s time to start looking into visas and the logistics and maybe you could do it the year after next!
15. Start a Business
You might dream of starting a coffee shop or similar business, but need the skills, confidence, and finances to pull the trigger.
For more, see: Complete list of Long-Term Personal Goals
16. Start a Fitness Habit
Aim to do 30 minutes of exercise every day for the next month.
17. Mindful Eating
Make a goal to eat at least three portions of fruits and vegetables a day for the next four weeks.
18. Sleep Routine
Strive to establish a consistent sleep schedule, ensuring 8 hours of sleep each night this month.
19. Morning Routine
Set a goal to start each day with a healthy activity such as yoga or meditation for the next 30 days.
20. Learn Basic Cooking
Aim to learn and perfect five simple recipes by the end of this month.
21. Digital Detox
Strive to reduce screen time by an hour each day for the entire month.
22. Daily Hydration
Set a goal to drink at least eight glasses of water a day for the upcoming month.
23. Gratitude Journal
Commit to writing down three things you’re grateful for each day for the next 30 days.
24. Fun Reading
Endeavor to read a novel or a non-academic book this month.
25. New Hobby
Set a goal to take up a new hobby, such as knitting or painting, over the next month.
26. Daily Walks
Aim to take a 20-minute walk every day for the next four weeks.
27. Deep Cleaning
Strive to deep-clean one area of your home each week for the upcoming month.
28. Plant Care
Set a goal to start an indoor herb garden or window garden over the next month.
29. Reduce Caffeine
Endeavor to lower your caffeine consumption by half for the next 30 days.
30. Social Media Cleanse
Commit to unfollowing irrelevant accounts and subscribing to educational or inspiring ones over the next month.
31. Leadership Skills
Aim to improve leadership skills by taking on leading roles in team projects over the next work quarter.
32. Get Certified
Strive to gain certification in a particular skill relevant to your career within this fiscal year.
33. Enhance Networking
Extend your professional network by attending at least three industry-related events in the upcoming months.
34. Time Management
Improve your time management skills by completing tasks ahead of deadlines for the next six consecutive months.
Aim to earn a promotion by consistently showing initiative and exceeding expectations over the course of the year.
36. Expertise Development
Strive to become an expert in a specific area of your field within the next two years.
Seek to find a career mentor who works in your desired role or industry within the next three months.
38. Training Programs
Enroll and complete a professional training or workshop related to your job profile within the next six months.
Aim to enhance communication skills by leading team meetings or presenting at industry conferences over the next year.
40. Job Satisfaction
Strive to improve job satisfaction by setting and achieving challenging but attainable work goals for the forthcoming fiscal quarter.
41. New Job
Set a goal to transition into a new and more challenging role within your industry in the next two years.
42. Conference Presentation
Apply and prepare to present a paper or project at a professional conference within the next year.
44. Team Building
Aim to host a team-building event to nurture a healthy work environment within the upcoming work quarter.
45. Higher Education
If you’re in academia or a field where further education is valued, aim to enroll or progress in a doctoral degree program related to your career field within the next two years.
46. Build an Emergency Fund
Aim to save up for an emergency fund equivalent to six months of your living expenses over the next two years.
47. Debt Repayment
Strive to clear off your credit card debt within the next 18 months.
48. Retirement Savings
Begin contributing a set percentage of your income towards your retirement fund starting this month.
49. Investment Portfolio
Aim to create a diverse investment portfolio over the next year.
50. Increased Income
Set a goal to increase your annual income by pursuing new job opportunities or side gigs within the next year.
51. Frugal Living
Strive to reduce your monthly spending by 10% over the next three months.
52. Home Ownership
Set a goal to save for a house down payment within the next five years.
53. Regular Budgeting
Aim to create and stick to a monthly budget for the next six months.
54. Improve Credit Score
Strive to raise your credit score by making bill payments on time for the next year.
55. College Fund
Start a college fund for your child and aim to contribute monthly for the next 18 years.
56. Charitable Donations
Set a goal to contribute a certain percentage of your income to charitable causes starting this year.
57. Wealth Accumulation
Create a plan to accumulate wealth equivalent to two times your current annual income in the next five years.
58. Student Loans
Aim to pay off your student loans within the next five years.
59. Vacation Savings
Set a goal to save enough money for your dream vacation over the next year.
60. Financial Literacy
Strive to educate yourself on financial matters by reading top financial books over the next six months.
61. Regular Communication
Aim to have open and honest communication with your partner every day about feelings, dreams, and fears.
62. Shared Hobby
Find or cultivate a shared hobby that you can both enjoy together over the next month.
63. Couple’s Therapy
Make it a priority to find a couples’ therapist and start attending monthly sessions within the next three months.
64. Set Boundaries
Strive to have a conversation about boundaries and personal space in your relationship within the next week.
65. Relationship Check-ins
Commit to monthly relationship check-ins where you both discuss your happiness and any potential issues.
66. Quality Time
Establish a weekly date night in order to focus on each other without distractions for the subsequent three months.
67. Practice Patience
Aim to be more patient and willing to listen before reacting during discussions or heated moments.
68. Active Listening
Over the next month, strive to practice active listening in your daily conversations.
69. Conflict Resolution
Commit to resolving conflicts in a constructive and peaceful manner for an everlasting relationship.
70. Emotional Dependability
Strive to be emotionally available and supportive to your partner in their times of need.
71. Compliment Each Other
Make it a daily practice to compliment your partner.
72. Non-Judgemental Space
Create a safe and non-judgemental space for open conversations within the next month.
73. Show Appreciation
Endeavor to express appreciation for your partner’s efforts at least once a week.
74. Romantic Gestures
Plan a surprise romantic gesture for your partner within the next month.
75. Understanding Love Languages
Discuss your love languages within the next two weeks to better understand each other’s needs and expectations.
76. Improve Study Habits
Ambition to improve study habits by setting a solid studying timetable and stick to it over the next academic term.
77. Raise your GPA
Strive to raise your GPA by at least 0.5 points this academic year.
78. Master a Subject
Aim to become an expert in one subject of interest by reading related literature and seeking guidance from your tutor over the next semester.
79. Join a Club
Plan to join a school club or organization to gain exposure and build networks this academic term.
80. Attend Workshops
Commit to attending at least one academic workshop or seminar each month for the following academic year.
81. Course Completion
Aim to complete an online course related to your field of study within the next two months.
82. Research Participation
Strive to participate in a research project or conference within your campus or field of interest in the upcoming academic year.
83. Time Management
Develop time management skills by following a strict schedule for the full academic year.
84. Improve Writing Skills
Make a goal to improve writing skills by seeking help from writing centers or employing online resources over the next semester.
85. Academic Scholarship
Apply for at least three academic scholarships within the next 12 months.
86. Classroom Participation
Strive to be more active in class discussions and activities this semester.
87. Attend Office Hours
Plan on regularly attending office hours to clarify doubts and build a better rapport with professors this academic year.
If you’re currently at a community college, set a goal to successfully transfer to a four-year university in the next academic year.
89. Apply for Internships
Aim to apply for a minimum of ten internships within the scope of your future career this semester. (See Also: How to Write Internship Goals)
Set the goal to graduate with honors by maintaining high academic standing throughout your remaining university semesters.
Health And Fitness Goals
91. Regular Exercise
Aim to incorporate at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise into your routine five days a week for the next month.
92. Healthy Eating
Strive to include at least five serves of fruits and vegetables in your diet each day for the next four weeks.
93. Meditation Practice
Commit to meditating for ten minutes daily, for the upcoming month.
94. Shedding Pounds
Set a goal to lose ten pounds through a balanced diet and exercise over the next three months.
95. Drinking More Water
Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day for the next thirty days.
96. Sleep Schedule
Strive to establish a consistent sleep schedule, ensuring seven to eight hours of sleep per night for a month.
97. Yoga Practice
Commit to practicing yoga several times a week for increased flexibility, strength, and mental tranquility for the next two months.
98. Regular Check-ups
Make it a goal to get an annual physical exam to monitor your health.
99. Mental Health
Plan to attend weekly therapy or engaging in self-help activities to improve mental health over the next three months.
100. Limit Caffeine Consumption
Strive to limit the intake of caffeine to two standard cups of coffee per day for the next month.
101. Dental Health
Aim to brush and floss twice daily to maintain oral health for the next four weeks and beyond.
102. Limit Sugar Intake
Set a goal to curb your sugar intake by eating less processed food for the next month.
103. Active Transportation
Make it a goal to use active transport options such as walking or cycling for small distance travel for the next two months.
104. Healthy Cooking
Aim to learn five easy and healthy recipes to replace fast food meals over the next two months.
105. Proactive Preventive Measures
Commit to being proactive about preventive health measures by scheduling and attending routine screenings and health check-ups within the coming year.
Mental Health Goals
106. Practice Mindfulness
Commit to practice mindfulness meditation daily for the next month, which can help manage stress and improve focus.
107. Regular Therapy
Plan to attend weekly therapy sessions over the next three months to help navigate emotional challenges.
108. Positive Affirmations
Start each day with positive affirmations to foster a positive view of yourself for the month ahead.
109. Balanced Lifestyle
Aim to maintain a balanced lifestyle with adequate sleep, exercise, and nutritious meals, starting from the coming month.
110. Limit Screen Time
Set a goal to limit your daily screen time and replace it with more fulfilling activities over the next month.
111. Expand Social Network
Try to widen your social circle by joining clubs or online groups with similar interests in the coming two months.
112. Follow a Routine
Strive to establish and follow a daily routine for a month to create a sense of normalcy and control.
113. Daily Journaling
Commit to journal your thoughts and emotions daily for the next month as a way to process emotions.
Set aside one day per week for self-care activities that you enjoy, to start from the coming week and continue for two months.
115. Stay Hydrated
Make it a daily goal to consume enough water, which can positively affect your overall mental well-being, starting from today for the next 30 days.
116. Decrease Caffeine Intake
Isolate one day in the upcoming week to commence reducing caffeine intake, and continue to lower the intake over the next two months.
117. Read Self-Help Books
Aim to read at least one self-help book a month to gain insights and strategies for coping with mental health issues.
118. Practice Gratitude
Commit to jotting down three things you’re grateful for every day for the next month.
119. Identify and Challenge Negative Thoughts
Over the next two months, work on identifying negative thoughts when they occur and challenging them with positive counter-thoughts.
120. Seek Support
Over the next month, reach out to at least one support group related to mental health to share experiences and learn from others.
121. Daily Meditation
Aim to incorporate at least fifteen minutes of meditation into your daily routine for the next month.
122. Spiritual Reading
Set a goal to read and reflect on a spiritual text or teaching once a week for the next three months.
123. Gratitude Journal
Commit to writing down three things you’re grateful for each day for the next month.
124. Mindfulness Practice
Plan to practice mindfulness by focusing on the present moment daily for the next two months.
125. Acts of Kindness
Aim to perform one act of kindness each day for the next four weeks, to cultivate compassion.
Set a goal to contribute to a charitable cause you believe in once a month for the next six months.
127. Volunteer Work
Plan to volunteer your time to a cause or organization aligned with your spiritual values at least once a week for the next two months.
128. Join Spiritual Community
Commit to joining a local or online spiritual community and participating in their gatherings over the next month.
129. Nature Time
Make it a goal to spend time in nature at least once a week for the next three months, to connect with the natural world and find inner calm.
130. Spiritual Retreat
Plan to attend a spiritual retreat in the next year to deepen your spiritual journey.
Aim to start and end your day with a prayer, mantra, or spiritual affirmation over the next month.
132. Life’s Purpose
Take time over the next three months to define your life’s purpose from a spiritual perspective.
133. Yoga Practice
Commit to doing yoga at least twice a week for the next three months, to connect body, mind, and spirit.
Strive to observe a period of silence every day for the next month, creating space for inner reflection and peace.
Make a conscious effort over the next two months to forgive past grudges and release the burden they hold.
136. Quality Time
Allocate a “family time” slot in your schedule at least once a week, where all family members can engage in a chosen activity together for the next three months.
137. Family Meeting
Implement a monthly family meeting to discuss important matters, resolve conflicts, and plan for upcoming events, starting this month.
138. Family Meals
Strive to have at least one meal per day together as a family over the next month.
139. Communication Skills
Aim to improve family communication by actively practicing active listening and open dialogues in all interactions, for the next two months.
140. Healthier Lifestyle
Set a family goal to adopt healthier lifestyle habits such as increased physical activity and nutritious eating habits together, starting this month.
141. Shared Chores
Assign age-appropriate chores to everyone in the family, reinforcing teamwork and responsibility for the next three months.
142. Family Vacation
Plan and save for a family vacation that caters to everyone’s interests in the coming year.
143. Support Community
As a family, volunteer for a local charity or community event in the next six months.
144. Unplug Time
Set a goal to minimize screen time and maximize interactive family time daily for the next month.
If you have young children, establish a daily routine of reading aloud with them, starting this week.
146. Positive Habits
Set a goal for everyone in the family to build a positive habit over the next month, such as gratitude or kindness.
147. Celebrate Achievements
Regularly take the time to celebrate each family member’s achievements, big or small, fostering a sense of accomplishment and happiness.
148. Financial Education
Aim to introduce regular discussions about money management and financial planning appropriate to each family member’s age and understanding over the next six months.
149. Create Traditions
Develop one new family tradition that can be repeated annually, starting this year.
150. Gardening Project
Start a family gardening project, either outdoors or with indoor plants, initiating this month and nurturing it for the seasons to come.
Tips and Tricks for Writing your Personal Goals
Here are five tips for writing your personal goals that blend the advice of experts with the simplicity of common sense.
- Start with your core values: Your fundamental beliefs form the foundation for your decision-making (e.g., individuals who deeply value health may aim to run a marathon). Core values function as the driving force—the motivation—behind achieving one’s goals. Acknowledging and delineating these values help structure your goals in a way that pairs with your genuine passions and ambitions.
- Align your short-term and long-term goals: Short-term goals often act as stepping stones towards a broader, long-term goal (e.g., aiming to read one book per month for a year to support the long-term goal of becoming more knowledgeable). Balancing these two types of goals enhances motivation and provides regular progress benchmarks.
- Constant revision: Reassess and revise your goals regularly. Nobody’s goals should be stagnant, because as people grow and change, so do their ambitions and desires. Regular reflection allows for adjustments as needed (e.g., If injured, a runner may revise the goal of a marathon to a 10k race). Rigidity in goal setting can often create unnecessary pressure and demotivation; be adaptable and flexible.
Your personal goals are just that: personal! But the above examples and frameworks can get you on the right path. Stick to the SMART Goals framework, align your short-term and long-term goals, and then (most importantly!) take action each and every day.
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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]