7 Personal Goals to Improve Your 2023
Goals are a crucial aspect of everyone’s life and can provide a critical sense of direction, motivation, and focus. By setting goals, you provide yourself with a target to aim for. Personal goals can be related to your relationships, work life, diets, finances, and so much more. In this article, you will learn what a personal goal is, different types of goals and ways to set them, and a list of 7 example goals to get you started.
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What Exactly Are Personal Goals?
Goal-setting is the action of taking active steps to achieve a desired outcome. Personal goals are anything related to work, relationships, finances, and other aspects of life that you want to make changes to. Research has proven that the act of creating an attainable goal can actually improve one’s performance when working towards that goal.
In fact, there are three main categories of goals that most people keep in mind. These include:
These are specific, performable routine personal goals that are 100% controllable by the individual. For example, exercising half an hour before breakfast, or reading for 15 minutes before bed.
These are when the individual sets a standard to meet, and are typically mostly controllable. These include personal goals like getting above 90% on the next math test, or wanting to achieve at least a 3.2 GPA.
These are longer-term, more imaginative goals that are not entirely controllable by the individual. For a high schooler, this could look like getting accepted into a top university. For an entry-level employee, it could mean eventually securing a manager position.
Throughout this article, we’ll be focusing more on the process and performance goals that you can implement into your life – personal goals that you can set right here, right now.
Short and Long Term Personal Goals
Simply put, long-term goals are defined as ones that take 3-5 years to complete, while short-term goals take 3 months to a couple years.
When creating long-term personal goals, it’s important to know that they are not accomplished in a single action. Oftentimes, several steps are required in the process of achieving a long-term personal goal. These small steps themselves could be short-term goals. For example, take a recently accepted undergrad whose goal is to get a job at Facebook. The long-term goal would be to work at Facebook, but the short-term goals would be signing up for classes, completing freshman year, maybe securing an internship over the summer, et cetera.
These frequent short-term goals allow for a sense of accomplishment when striving for a long-term goal. Staying optimistic along the process will go a long way toward achieving those long-term goals. Often, people find that breaking up goals by month may be beneficial in keeping long-term goals attainable. Checking in with yourself monthly gives a consistent view of what you have accomplished, and what you are capable of accomplishing as time goes on. Through this process, you can learn from your mistakes, gain confidence in yourself, and be more flexible to upcoming changes.
Tried and true goal-setting methods
1. SMART Personal Goals
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. By setting SMART personal goals, you are setting one that incorporates all these traits to focus your efforts and achieve a goal. Let’s break it up by letter.
Here, you need to outline the five “W questions”. Who is involved in this goal, What do you want to accomplish, Where will this goal be achieved, When do you want to achieve this goal, and Why you want to achieve this goal.
Example: Instead of saying “I want better grades”, a specific goal would state “I want above a 3.5 GPA every year for the rest of college because I want to graduate with honors.”
You must create a measuring process for your goal. Without one, you will not be able to track your progress. Ask yourself questions at checkpoints like “How many/much have I accomplished?” and what your indicator of progress is.
Example: Branching off of the earlier example, adding a measurable aspect would make it “I want above a 3.5 GPA every year for the rest of college because I want to graduate with honors. To achieve this, I will aim to meet with my teacher at least twice a week for office hours.”
A SMART goal should be something that challenges you, but not something that is unattainable. To ensure a goal is achievable, ask yourself: “What are my resources and capabilities right now? Do I have enough to achieve this goal? If I don’t, what am I missing?”
It’s also important to consider if others have achieved the goal in the past as well. By taking their testimonials, you can set a more accurate goal.
Take our student example. To ensure her goal is attainable, she may calculate how long her homework takes her every day after school, and see if she has enough time to meet with her professor twice for office hours. If she doesn’t, she may tweak her goal to meet with the professor only once a week or adjust her day to complete her homework earlier on.
This facet relates to the achievability one. Your SMART goal must be realistic in that you know it is achievable within the context of the resources and time you have.
Our student may ask herself questions like: “Given the time I have for office hours, and the amount of effort I will put into my schoolwork, is achieving a 3.5 this year within reach?”
A SMART goal should have a start and finish time, no matter the intended duration of the goal. Without a time constraint, the goal will lack a sense of urgency, and motivation may be lost. Assess whether the things within your goal have deadlines attached to them, and when you should complete your goal to line up with those deadlines.
Our student wants to attend office hours to meet with her teacher and learn more. She decides that from November to March, she will meet with her teacher once a week.
2. Backwards Personal Goals
This goal-setting technique includes looking at the long-term goal you’ve set, then thinking about all the steps you need to achieve to reach that goal.
The student from earlier wants to land a job as an App Developer at Microsoft. To do this, she needs a Masters in Computer Science. Before that, she needs to complete her Bachelor’s in Information Technology. Before that, it would be beneficial for her to take up an internship, and before that, she needs to complete her freshman year of college with a 3.5 GPA or above.
This method isn’t so much about setting short-term goals to achieve a long-term goal, but more about outlining the process to get to the long-term goal. By doing so, a clear path is established that you can follow over the course of just a few weeks or many years.
3. Don’t Forget to Celebrate
Take some time to yourself to celebrate your accomplishments! When hitting a milestone, large or small, it’s important to steal a moment to realize where you’ve come. Celebrating also provides incentives to continue achieving your goal. By recognizing each step in the process, you effectively motivate yourself to keep moving along it.
Whether you decide to outline multiple long-term SMART goals for yourself, or simply stick to one short-term goal, a little thought and dedication goes a long way. Now that you’ve read about some ways to set methods, here are a few personal goals that you can follow yourself:
7 Personal Goals You Can Follow Right Now
#1: Set aside monthly personal goals
Monthly goals are a great way to stay on track with longer-term personal goals throughout the month, or just to create small milestones as time goes on. Remember the “T” aspect of SMART goals? Having a goal for each month sets a time frame for each goal, making them more motivating to accomplish.
#2: Keep an organized work desk
Benefits of a clean work desk not only include reducing germs and keeping a clean room, but studies show they are proven to reduce anxiety, increase productivity, and improve efficiency. In fact, according to Harvard Business Review, “scientists at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute have used MRI and other approaches to show that constant visual reminders of disorganization drain our cognitive resources and reduce our ability to focus.” They also found that “when participants cleared clutter from their work environment, they were better able to focus and process information, and their productivity increased”. Keeping a desk clean is proven to improve mental state while working.
#3: Eat a balanced breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! By eating a balanced breakfast, you can fuel your body for the day, get the required nutrition for the morning, and lay a foundation for a healthy diet. For a nutritious breakfast, try to choose whole, unprocessed foods from all of the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy. Proteins from foods like low-sugar yogurts, eggs, seeds, nuts, and legumes are also beneficial. Complex carbohydrates like whole fruits, vegetables, and grains that provide fiber will help you feel fuller longer.
#4: Take 10 minutes a day
Taking at least one brief moment in the day for low-impact exercise or meditation can be incredibly helpful in terms of mood, health, and fitness. Doing so can establish a daily routine. 10 minutes of exercise or meditation daily is proven to increase self-confidence and motivation to work. Though doing these brief activities may not prepare you for a marathon or being a bodybuilder, they can help build routine into your day and provide many mental health improvements.
#5: Set aside time to talk to loved ones
Social interactions are psychologically proven to help people cope with stress, improve well-being, and, when done regularly, even lengthen your life. Ensure you are communicating with those you are close to, whether that be your parents in your house, your friends, or talking to a relative on the phone.
#6: Take daily walks
A simple daily brisk walk can help you lead a healthier life. In a physical sense, it can help you maintain healthy body weight, prevent many conditions, and improve cardiovascular health. In a mental sense, walks are known to boost energy, improve overall mood, and reduce stress and anxiety. Plus, it’s an easy way to get some Vitamin D in your system. Especially in winter months, small daily walks can help improve Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
#7: Go to bed at the same time every night
During a sleep cycle, the body is working to support healthy brain function as well as maintain your physical health. By going to the same sleep every night, you are making sure that these processes are running well, and you get to be the healthiest person you can be.
If you experience difficulties with sleep, or are sleeping too late, we recommend the 15-minute method. Every day, sleep 15 minutes earlier to eventually reach a target time where you are eventually earning 8 hours of sleep each night.
Try some of your own!
And there you have it! you’ve already taken the first step towards setting and achieving your own goals, so congratulations!
Throughout this article, we went over what exactly a personal goal is, some personal goal-setting methods, and then provided seven examples of some easy-to-follow, proactive goals. We hope you can use this information to guide goal-setting of your own, and complete the personal goals you want to achieve.
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What do you think of this article? Did you find it helpful? Will you start implementing these goals today? Leave your thoughts here and we’ll get back to you.