Let’s face it, we all have things we want to accomplish in our lives. But it seems like we get so distracted from the big things in our lives because of all the little fires we have to put out each day.
We have great intentions, but rarely do those intentions actually come to fruition because we’re so busy just doing the day to day stuff. Then we look back a few years down the road wondering why we never accomplished that 5 year plan we had for ourselves.
We know what goals are, and we may have even participated in a few goal setting sessions during our life. But for whatever reason, we just didn’t make those goals a priority in our lives and now we’re once again at a crossroads trying to determine whether to give up on our dreams and just continue aimlessly walking through our lives or finally work toward achieving those big dreams.
So today, we’re going to finally take the first step toward creating meaningful goals and look at individual goals examples you need to address in your own life.
And just to be clear, yes, it’s going to mean…
- setting aside time to think through the good things you want for your life,
- facing some of our bad habits head on,
- acknowledging that we are aren’t necessarily where we thought we would be at this point,
- realizing that we can change our path, and
- putting in the hard work needed.
This isn’t going to just be a quick thing you do in between phone calls so you can check it off your to do list. This is going to require you to get out of your comfort zone, put forth a concerted effort in order to dig into some uncomfortable things, and learn some new skills.
But aren’t your biggest dreams worth mucking through some discomfort?
If you said yes, then let’s do it!
How to Set Goals
I’ve spent lots of time discussing smart goals and the benefits associated with them in other blog posts and podcast episodes. But we’re going to take this a bit farther as we dig into individual goals examples and how they relate to your big smart goals. This will allow us to create corresponding objectives with action steps!
So here’s a quick recap of smart goals. Smart stands for…
- Specific – what exactly is it that you hope to accomplish? (I want to leave the classroom.)
- Measurable – how can you measure your progress? (I will spend 15 minutes daily job hunting, researching titles, or working on my resume.)
- Attainable – is this a realistic goal for the season of life I am in currently? (I will have my updated resume created and ready to submit within 90 days.)
- Relevant – what direction do you want to go moving forward? (I will apply for remote instructional designer jobs or instructional design jobs in my area.)
- Timely – when will this goal be accomplished? (I will leave the classroom at the end of this school year.)
Breaking down that desire to leave the classroom into actionable steps that will move me closer and closer to the end result I want is the best way to achieve this particular goal (and any others I set for myself).
In order to leave the classroom, I need to…
- determine the minimum amount of money I need to make to support myself and/or family,
- designate when I want to actually leave,
- decide what type of job I would like to pursue,
- create or update my resume,
- prepare for and be invited to interviews,
- get another job,
- write a resignation letter,
- tell my students I am leaving.
Obviously, this one goal requires a lot of behind the scenes action steps because it isn’t just something you decide one day and with a snap of your fingers it’s done. This is a goal that requires quite a bit of work on your part and a long time to bring to fruition, but it’s the only way you’ll actually ever take the plunge.
Honestly, I think this is probably the easiest area of our lives to set goals. In fact, it may be part of your job description to set team goals and/or professional goals for yourself. But key results only come from concerted effort and a daily routine aligned with meeting your goals.
So let’s look at two distinct areas that are an important part of your professional success.
Professional Development Goals
This first area is the one most directly tied to you and your efforts. Think about these more as the learning and achievement goals you want to carry out.
And while you may be part of the company goals, it’s important for you to think about different things you want to achieve within your career.
- Maybe you want to get better at leading meetings or communicating with your team. Then you might want to seek out public speaking online courses that will allow you to practice this skill and increase your ability.
- Perhaps you’d like to take on a few more leadership roles. This will require you to have excellent time management skills and the ability to balance adding some new things to your plate.
- Maybe you would like to learn a foreign language in order to communicate with another person within the company, a new student in your classroom, or a particular leader within the ranks.
The whole idea behind professional development goals or business goals is determining how you can become a better employee or business owner and then taking those new ideas and creating s.m.a.r.t. goals that align with them on a regular basis.
While this may sound very similar to professional development goals, professional life goals are more about developing positive relationships with team members.
It’s so easy in the realm of goal-setting to get hyper-focused on a to do list or on what we need to accomplish that we forget how many of our goals are actually directly related to our relationship with others. So you want to think about how you can make a lasting positive impact on those around you.
Let’s face it. We spend at least 8 hours per day with our co-workers and that means we spend as much (if not more) time with them as we do our families. Therefore, we want to make sure we are spending time cultivating those relationships in a way that is meaningful, long lasting, and appropriate.
Now as usual, I have a word of caution. Because we spend so much time with our co-workers, inappropriate relationships can develop if we aren’t mindful. Therefore, you should set “appropriate” work relationship goals, especially if you are married.
Then be sure to think about how you can improve your relationships with your co-workers, increase your own emotional intelligence, and help them set their own goals.
Individual Goals Examples for Your Career
Here are 15 individual goals examples directly related to your career designed to get you thinking of new goals you can set for yourself and (hopefully) achieve within the next year…
- Spend 15 minutes at the end of each day setting tomorrow’s goals in order to get a head start.
- Arrive to work 10 minutes early to review the new goals you set the day before.
- Learn a new language in order to communicate with a co-worker, branch manager, or student.
- Use a timer to create focused time blocks.
- Spend 5 minutes each day speaking to a different co-worker and actively listening to what he/she says.
- Check your email at designated times during the day to decrease your chances of becoming distracted.
- Set email auto-responders.
- Find different ways to increase your job satisfaction.
- Develop a growth mindset and apply it to situations in the workplace.
- Determine what time you will leave work and then walk away at the appointed time.
- Encourage co-workers to develop a positive work-life balance with you.
- Create a work environment that is warm, inviting, and welcoming to others.
- Set short term and long term goals related to your career.
- Revisit and review your long term goals at the end of the quarter and then adjust them as needed.
- Set specific work-life boundaries so that your job doesn’t take over your entire life.
Personal Development Goals
For most people setting goals in your professional life is so much easier than setting goals in your personal life. It sort of just comes with the territory as a career-oriented individual. You have goals for making more money, starting your own business, achieving the next level on the career ladder, etc.
But when it comes to thinking about our personal growth goals or life goals we struggle.
Maybe it’s because we think it’s just a waste of time or a useless endeavor; or a more likely possibility is that all those things you want to do in life tend to just get lost in the daily to do lists of being a spouse, parent, child, brother, sister, and/or friend.
Then one day you wake up only to realize you never put the necessary effort and action steps into place because at the time they weren’t important enough long-term goals.
So if you know there are some great things you want to do with your life and important things you want to accomplish, let’s do them!! Here are four of the most important areas related to personal development.
Social media can be a great way to meet new people, but it doesn’t replace face-to-face, in-person connections. It’s easy to put our “highlight reel” on social media, but that doesn’t lead to deeper and more meaningful relationships.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that some of my best business friends are those I’ve never met in person. We found each other through social media channels and now we take time to connect via Zoom to share struggles and wins with one another.
But most of us would admit that we take to social media as an “escape” from real life responsibilities. So while social media can be an excellent place to find successful people to follow and practice honing our communication skills, it can also create a labyrinth of struggles for us.
It can cause us to neglect important relationships and responsibilities, develop imposter syndrome, and even drain our energy levels.
As you think about individual goals and examples of ways to take action, consider social media. Think about it from a pros and cons perspective and consider whether or not you might need to put time limits and specific boundaries in place for yourself.
Facing the truth is an essential part of making positive changes in your life.
Have you ever heard someone say, “Well, that’s just the way I am,” or “I’ve always been like that,” or maybe something similar? While it could be true that someone has always behaved a certain way or is naturally prone to certain emotions, these types of sayings are just an easy way to say, “I don’t want to change because I like the way things are.”
Interestingly, many people don’t realize that everyone has room for growth and we can all choose to do better; that’s where personal development and personal growth come into play.
There are thousands of self-help books on the market designed to change any aspect of your life you want to target. But there is one that is my go-to option because it answers so many of life’s deepest questions.
Maybe you (like me) are interested in understanding…
- why you are here?
- what it is that makes you significant in a world full of people?
- the meaning of life?
- your specific purpose?
- how to love people better?
- when to forgive someone?
Honestly, I could write 500 more questions we ponder on a daily basis and never even scratch the surface. But the important thing here is to understand where to find the answers…the Bible.
Now, I know some people will say it’s an old and outdated book, but I can promise you there are applications to be made for every question you’ve ever asked.
As with many of the other individual goals examples we have looked at, finances are an area that we discuss a lot, but rarely take action to achieve. We like to talk about how we wish we made more money or what we would do if we won the lottery, but how many of us actually take time to unpack where it is our money actually goes?
The reality is we don’t want to actually see where our money goes because then we might have to admit some things we don’t want to admit, make some changes we don’t want to make, and give up some things we feel like we deserve. Amiright?
Let me ask you a question.
If you thought you might have a life-threatening illness, like cancer, would you avoid acknowledging it so you didn’t have to deal with it? What if you had the choice to deal with it now and only have a minor procedure or put it off and inevitably end up having to experience major surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation?
I know that seems like a harsh comparison, but here’s the truth.
Financial struggles lead to more divorces than anything else. So if you know you need to pull back the curtain on some things that aren’t very pretty in regards to spending, just accept that you made your choices and now the consequences are staring back at you.
Then, realize that you are walking through the discomfort now in order to have a better life. This is the only way you will be willing to do it. Trust me, you have a better chance of recovering from poor past financial decisions now than you will a year from now.
Facing the truth can hurt really badly, but the only way you can let go of the past and move on is by facing what is right in front of you.
This is a really tricky area because we are born with a desire for relationships, but we struggle with finding the truly deep and meaningful relationships we seek. And then there’s the added issue of people being people.
In other words, even if we do find people, many have a tendency to let us down in one way or another…and that’s what makes relationships so tough. But aren’t meaningful relationships worth the effort and time we invest in them?
If this is the case, then how can we create measurable goals in our relationships? Well, we need to begin by thinking in general terms. What types of things would you like to develop specifically related to goals?
Consider how you can be a good friend by…
- guarding sensitive and personal information others have shared with you,
- practicing active listening and focusing completely on what another person is sharing as opposed to thinking of what you plan to say next,
- creating space in your schedule to talk to a friend or pray for their specific situation.
This same logic can be applied to relationships with family members.
- How are you being a good friend to those in your family?
- What are you doing that makes them want to spend time with you and cultivate a meaningful relationship with you?
These are the questions that will help you recall that the specific goals you are hoping to achieve are directly related to the people in your lives.
Proverbs 18:24 states, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly.” In other words, if you want to have good friends, you need to be a good friend first.
So remember, these relationships goals aren’t just items on a checklist. They are going to be tasks that require an investment of time and energy.
But if you want only the best things for those you care about (and it requires sacrificing other things in order to spend quality time with them), then it’s worth it.
Individual Goals Examples for Your Personal Development
As we consider the four specific areas we have covered including social media, individual growth, finances, and relationships, let’s look at 20 individual goals examples you might want to set for yourself.
Remember you can change numbers or amounts to reflect your specific needs and turn these examples of personal goals into achievable goals for you.
- Spend 30 minutes maximum on social media per day.
- Connect with one new person/account on Instagram each week by sending a DM.
- Turn off my phone at 9 pm each night this month.
- Have a social media-free weekend.
- Enact a “no phones at the dinner table” policy.
- Go on a date with my spouse once a week.
- Spend 15 minutes of uninterrupted time with each of my kids daily.
- Play a board game with my kids and/or spouse.
- Send my spouse an “I love you” text just because each week.
- Read one chapter of Proverbs each day this month.
- Start a new Bible Study and complete each lesson daily.
- Pray for my spouse, my kids, my family, and my friends.
- Learn a new skill this month.
- Read at least on page in a book before bed.
- Meet a friend for coffee one day this week.
- Practice active listening by having someone tell me about a recent event or incident.
- Create a realistic budget.
- Use cash for all in-person purchases.
- Talk to your spouse before making any big purchases.
- Save $100 per month in order to have $1,000 emergency fund saved within 10 months.
Physical Health Goals
Thus far we have talked about career goals that will help you thrive in your job and personal development goals designed to help you be a better person. But the last area of individual goals examples we’re going to cover is physical health.
Ironically, this is an area where many new year’s resolutions are created, and then subsequently dropped because the effort is just too much! The key to setting a goal like getting healthy is breaking it into smaller goals and creating action steps designed to get you there. So let’s use the same approach we’ve been using thus far and apply it to our physical health.
Let’s just lay it out on the table. Other than diet, exercise is one of the hardest things to add to our daily life. We like to say we don’t have enough time to exercise because that helps us feel better, but the truth is we have time for the important things in our lives.
And we have time for those things we have written into specific time slots.
So think about WHEN you could exercise that would make the most sense. For me, I like to exercise when I first wake up because it…
- keeps me from putting the task off for the rest of the day
- helps me stay focused on eating better (because who wants to work that hard to exercise just to swallow three doughnuts?), and
- forces me to do it BEFORE I shower…resulting in me actually doing it!
Determining WHEN you will exercise and putting that into your schedule ahead of time will ensure you actually do it.
We are the most chronically overworked and unrested generation to date. And to keep up with the ever-increasing demands placed on us, we consume more coffee and more energy drinks than ever before.
We applaud the…
- entrepreneur who gets up at 3 am to start work,
- teacher who gets to school at 6 am and doesn’t leave until 7 pm,
- worker who misses important family and life events in order to climb the corporate ladder.
Yet we say we value rest.
The truth is, we think rest and sleep are for the weak and the lazy. Don’t believe me? Think about this.
When was the last time you…
- went to bed by 9 pm?
- took a nap?
- didn’t have to drink coffee or an energy drink to make it through the day?
Enlightening isn’t it? We like to boast about how little sleep we get each night and how many hours of overtime we worked this week.
Unfortunately, as future generations watch us, they begin to think that sleep deprivation and increased caffeine consumption are just a part of life. Our kids stay on their electronic devices all night and are consuming massive amounts of caffeine to counteract the impacts.
But what we can’t see is the lasting negative impacts lack of rest is having on our bodies. Here are some articles directly related to sleep deprivation and the impacts on our bodies.
- 11 Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body
- 10 Surprising Effects of Lack of Sleep
- Extent and Health Consequences of Chronic Sleep Loss and Sleep Disorders
- Just One Night of Sleep Loss Harms Your Well-Being, New Study Finds
The truth is, we need to shift our mindset away from the idea that rest is bad and start setting goals to add more rest into our days because rest is an important component of our overall health and wellbeing.
I saved this one for last because it is very possible that exercise and rest are part of your self-care routine. But you need to make sure you are taking care of yourself now before you do any lasting damage.
The tricky part about self-care is how different it looks for each person.
So the point isn’t so much the specific activity itself as it is understanding the type of goal you need to set for self-care.
Think of self-care as those things that help you relax, bring joy to your life, and help you feel content.
If you’re an extrovert like me, you might find attending a party, going to a concert, or meeting new people the perfect form of self-care. Introverts, on the other hand, probably just broke out in hives thinking about that! They would most likely find reading a book, watching a movie with a spouse, or working on a project at home an ideal sort of self care.
The key is to determine what things bring you joy and help you feel refreshed, renewed, and rejuvenated because those are the activities you want to include in your self care regimen.
Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup, and it’s important that you take steps to ensure your cup is full so that you can pour into others.
Individual Goals Examples for Your Physical Health
We are going to examine 15 individual goals examples you could set for yourself directly related to your physical health. Remember these are designed to be used as is or as a starting point to help you make progress in the area of physical health.
- Exercise for 30 minutes 3 times per week.
- Park farther from your workplace in order to get in more steps.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Walk for 15 minutes during your lunch break.
- Drink 5 bottles of water each day.
- Consume only one cup of coffee or energy drink per day.
- Go to bed earlier in order to get 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Turn off your cell phone at 8 pm.
- Complete one self-care activity per week.
- Spend 15 minutes per day praying for your family.
- Eat more veggies and fruits.
- Get up and walk for one minute every hour during work.
- Meet a friend at the park to walk and talk.
- Play a game of tag with your kids.
- Have a dance party in your living room or kitchen with your kids.
We’re such multi-faceted individuals with unique dreams and aspirations, but we’ll never achieve those if we don’t actually set goals for them. So take some time today to set one good goal ( or more) using these individual goals examples.
You can focus on one or more areas of your life, but you just need to make sure these are relevant to you and your big dreams. It doesn’t matter what any other person is or isn’t doing. You are in charge of your future, so get out there and do it!
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