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Millennial Personal Development Goals
I get LOTS of emails asking what are some good personal development goals for creating a better life.
I used to write out a big list based on the individual situation and circumstance, but it got time-consuming so I’ve just put them all into one big list for you to read through.
Before we get into the goals, I’ll run through a bit of admin, but if you just want to get to the juicy stuff, scroll down to the list. You can’t miss it.
What are personal development goals?
Personal development goals are an objective or target you’re attempting to achieve that help you ‘improve’ yourself as a person.
They can be in the form of learning a new skill (such as public speaking or mindfulness), developing a personality characteristic (such as patience and gratitude), completing a task (such as a digital detox or exercise commitment), or undertaking a new habit (such as journaling or going to bed at the same time), but regardless of the specific goal, the critical element is that you believe that achieving this goal will improve your life situation, experience, or trajectory.
I’ve put ‘improve’ in brackets because ‘improvement’ is subjective to your situation. Learning to express your thoughts more freely and openly could improve your life situation if your life is currently limited by the fact that you don’t share your thoughts and feelings. But, for a different person, learning to be quiet and let others talk while you listen could improve your life because you have a bad habit of talking over others.
Each person is in a different situation and has different goals and so therefore, ‘improvement’ is subjective to the individual.
Why should you set personal development goals?
You should set personal development goals if you feel as you need additional skills, personality characteristics, or habits to help you create the life you want.
For example: you might feel as though the biggest roadblock to creating the life you want is a lack of awareness of your core desires and hyper-reactivity to your emotional responses. When you research this situation, you discover that mindfulness would assist with both of these and so set yourself the personal development goal of being more mindful.
If you have a vision of the life you want to create and feel as though you lack the skills, characteristics, or habits necessary to create it, you should set personal development goals.
Who should set personal development goals?
Personal development goals will not work for everyone. There are specific psychological characteristics necessary for personal development goals to be of benefit to you.
Characteristic 1: Have a vision
The first characteristic necessary for someone to thrive through personal development goals is for them to have a vision. This could be a vision of the kind of person they want to be, the kind of friends they want to surround themselves with, the kind of life they want to live, or anything in between, but they need to have a vision.
A vision is necessary because goals are only as motivating as the perceived reward you anticipate getting form their achievement and you can’t determine how much better a goal will make your life without first knowing what you want your life to look like.
Characteristics 2: Taken responsibility
The second necessary characteristic for gaining benefit through personal development goals is that you need to have taken responsibility for your life situation.
If you blame others for your life situation, experience, and trajectory, then you won’t get benefit from setting goals as you don’t (consciously or unconsciously) believe that you’ve created the challenges you’re facing in your life. If you haven’t created the problems then you can’t solve them.
But, if you have taken responsibility for your life situation, experience, and trajectory then you can change these through setting goals.
Characteristic 3: Find goals motivating
The final characteristic is that actually find goals motivating. Some people do. Some people become passionate and driven and motivated when they have a clearly defined target to work towards. They want to jump out of bed in the morning, throw on their clothes, and get ready to take on the day.
Other people don’t. They logically know they have a target, but pursuing that target doesn’t produce any meaningful shift in their inspiration or drive.
If you find goal motivating, hit it. If you don’t, you might need to look elsewhere to find your passion and drive.
When should you set personal development goals?
You should set personal development goals in the moment when you realise your life isn’t the way you want it to be — it’s that simple.
If you’re moving through your everyday routine and encounter a situation that isn’t the way you want it to be, identify which goal is going to help you make the biggest change and lock it in.
This doesn’t have to be a situation where you’re manically depressed and contemplating taking serious action. It can be any moment. You can set goals when you:
- Find yourself bored with your current friend group
- Notice a few extra pounds building up around your waist
- Feel stagnant at work and want to challenge yourself
- Start mentally wandering off during lovemaking sessions and conclude it’s time to change things up
If, at any point in time you notice that your life isn’t the way you want it, that’s a good time to set a personal development goal.
How do you set a personal development goal?
The process of setting a personal development goal has a few steps.
Step 1: Identify a problem in your life
The first step in setting a personal development goal is to identify a situation or problem in your life that you want to change. This could be a romantic relationship issue, something related to your work, a problem that has appeared in your free time, or a challenge in your friendships.
Step 2: Identify what you want the change to look like
The next step is to work out what you want the situation or problem to look like when it’s resolved.
Do you want your friends to be excited and motivated or kind and considerate? Do you want to your work to be engaging and all-consuming or are you looking for time and space to carefully think through other things while at your desk? Do you want your relationships to be wild and passionate or loving and accepting?
What do you want the situation to look like once it’s changed?
This is critical because the right personal development goal will depend on what you want your solution to look like.
Step 3: Identify a goal that will help resolve that problem (from the list below)
Once you know where you are and where you want to be, the next step is to choose a personal development goal that will take you from where you are to where you want to be with the most development possible.
This is critical because not all goals will help you get the result you want.
Turning up to raves while high on drugs most likely won’t help you find a loving and considerate partner who just wants to support you and your dreams. Hanging around the local pub most likely won’t help you find driven and motivated friends who are committed to changing the world. Prioritising pleasure over discipline most likely won’t help you shift those additional pounds you’ve added over Christmas.
You need to choose the right goal for getting you from where you are to where you want to be.
Step 4: Make it a SMART goal
For goals to be effective, they need to be SMART. And no, that’s not in all-caps for emphasis, it’s an acronym designed to help you make sure your goals are effective. Here’s what the letters stand for.
S = Specific
There’s no point in setting a goal that’s not specific. Creating vague goals like ‘Being better’ or ‘Trying more’ that don’t specifically outline what you need to achieve will provide no benefit to your life because you can’t tell what actions need to be taken.
Make your goals a specific action or target so that you have a clear idea of what you actually need to do.
M = Measurable
If you can’t measure a goal, you can’t tell if you’ve achieved it. If your goal is specific, like losing weight, how do you know if you’ve lost weight? How do you know what you’re at your end point? You can’t and won’t. But, if you make your goal measurable, things change dramatically.
If you set your goal as ‘Lose 10 pounds’ or ‘Meditate for 30 minutes’, you can now tell if you’ve hit your target.
A = Achievable
When setting measurable goals, it’s important to make sure they’re actually achievable.
For example, there’s no point in setting a goal of ‘Lose 100 pounds’ if you’re only 150 pounds to start with. There’s no point in setting a goal of meditating for 25 hours a day — especially if you have other commitments.
So, when you set your personal development goal, make sure they’re achievable.
R = Realistic
Goals not only need to be achievable, but they needs to be a chance they’re realistic for you to achieve.
If you set goals that aren’t realistically achievable, given your life situation, constraints, and circumstances, then you’re going to get disheartened by your failure and give up before you’ve made any meaningful progress.
For example, if you set a goal of run to work every day, that’s an achievable goal. But is it realistic for you? How much running have you done in the past? How conditioned are you to running? If you just start running today and keep going for 5 days straight, are you going to injure yourself and then have to give up?
But, if you set realistic goals, it means you have chance of completing them and so will continue to persist through the duration of the goal.
T = Time-specific
Open-ended goals give you an excuse to not take the necessary action. If your goal is to lose 5 pounds but you don’t specify by when you will lose those pounds, you can logically argue that you haven’t failed, even if you haven’t lost any weight 6 months later. But, if you lock in a specific timeline, then it removes your ability to logically talk your way out of the goal.
So, make your goal SMART to set yourself up for success.
Step 5: Get resources/knowledge
There’s a good chance you’ll need to acquire additional resources or knowledge to complete your goal. This could be advice, equipment, tools, knowledge, or anything in between. Whatever you need to get to complete your SMART personal development goal, get it now so you’re ready to take action.
Step 6: Set reminders to achieve that goal
One of the biggest challenges to achieving a goal is remembering to do it! So, before you embark, setup some reminders that keep you on track and focussed. Maybe write them on the back of the toilet door. Maybe above your bed. Maybe set alarms in your phone. Maybe fill our your diary.
Whatever you need to do to remind yourself to keep going, set it up now to eliminate the possibility of you forgetting.
Step 7: Get an accountability partner (optional)
Undertaking a personal development goal can be tough and some people find it easier if they have someone in their life to which they’re accountable. If you’re the kind of person who benefits from having accountability partner, get one now.
Step 8: TAKE ACTION
Now, the last and most important step: take action.
Nothing changes until you take action. Your life situation, life experience, and life trajectory don’t care about your commitments, ideas, learnings, or intentions. The only thing that makes any difference is action.
So, take action. Whatever you need to do, do it now and do it as often as you need to achieve your goal.
What are some examples of personal development goals?
There are literally thousands of different personal development goals you can undertake. Here is a list of 80+ different goals for you to try.
NOTE: Just remember to make these goals SMART before you take action. It’s a key step in getting the maximum benefit from them.
- Getting to bed at the same time
- Stay off social media
- Talk less
- Listen more
- Get out of bed earlier
- Read more books
- Sit in silence
- Seek joy
- Nourish your soul
- Enforce your personal boundaries
- Prioritise deep connections
- Become brutally honest
- Hand out compliments like candy
- Reflect on your day
- Communicate your needs
- Communicate your fears
- Pursue the truth
- Take control
- Relinquish control
- Accept pleasure
- Be more productive
- Be more empathetic
- Become consciously aware of your death
- Drink 2lt of water every day
- Stretch every day
- Stop judging and start understanding with others
- Stop judging and start understanding with yourself
- Become more empathetic
- Find commonalities with others
- Be more proactive
- Let go of the past and focus on the future
- Become more resilient
- Stop dwelling on problems
- Learn to forgive
- Become more expressive
- Develop discipline
- Become more productive
- Stop pleasing others/prioritise your own needs first
- Practice Patience
- Develop acceptance
- Become a good employee/manager/boss
- Become solution-oriented
- Embrace change
- Practice humility
- Become more persistent
- Become more authentic
- Be more optimistic
- Enforce higher standards
- Develop conflict resolution
- Improve your time management
- Learn to juggle
- Learn a new language
- Learn to code
- Make money online
Complete a task
- Spend less than 30 minutes a day on your phone
- Overcome a fear
- Overcome a limitation
- Disprove a negative belief
- Set your life vision
- Push till failure
- Make a new friend
- Try a new activity
- Uncover your core
- Improve a weakness
- Do one thing a day that scares you
- 30 day digital detox
- Define your vision
- Share something personal and scary
- Do 50/100/1,000,000 pushups
- Cull toxic friends
- Make 1 inspiring friend
- Apologise for something in the past
- Set personal boundaries
- Seek the truth
- Do 30 minutes of exercise every day for 30 days
- Declutter your life
- Start a savings account
- Create a vision board
- Volunteer in the service of others
- Make a difference in someone’s life