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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