Set Life Goals: Accomplishment or Regret on Your Deathbed?

Setting life goals is not a complicated process. You don’t need to set 100 life goals or make a plan for your goals. But everyone should set a handful of life goals to ensure their lives are moving in the direction they want. This list of attainable life goal ideas should help if you’re unsure what your goals should be.

Life goals are what you want to achieve in your life at the highest level.

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Do You Need Life Goals?

What is it about goal setting that gets self-improvement types so excited while others feel stressed out even by the thought of it?

Goals set us up for success but also failure.

Write down attainable goals, says one study by Gail Matthews. It makes you 33% more likely to accomplish them and be successful.

A well-set goal is a finish line that we must cross, a specific point marking completion. It pushes us to go a little further, like when you see the finish line in a long-distance race and can pick up the pace for the last 100 yards.

But goals are also a signal that we still have far to go. They tell us that we still haven’t achieved yet, that we’re not successful enough, and if we never get to the finish line, that we’re failures.

Without setting up that finish line, we have no measure of success or failure, but that doesn’t change reality. We all know if we’re living up to our potential. Using goals to motivate and push us in the right direction will help us if we set them correctly.

How to Set Life Goals

Read anything on living a fulfilled life or setting the best life goals, and they’ll tell you that SMART goals are the key. SMART goals are great for helping you achieve specific goals, but they aren’t the best way to set your life goals.

SMART Goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time Restricted

A graduate at 22, may sit down to write her life goals, one of which could be to get married—setting a highly specific, time-restricted goal for when, where, and to who you want to marry is meaningless if you haven’t even met them yet. So allow yourself to set loose life goals. They tell you the direction you want your life to take. Then, use personal goals to help you navigate the way.

  • Imagine someone is writing your obituary after you die. They have ten bullet points to outline what you achieved in your life across every aspect of your life. What do you hope they write?

If you’re not sure what to write, use the life goal examples below to help you.

18 Life Goals to Focus on

1. Graduate School or College

Getting an education that suits your intellectual level should be on everyone’s list of goals. Is it your goal to graduate college? To Graduate high school? Or to get an advanced degree?

2. Get Married

Society likes to take shots at the institution of marriage, and like most things, it’s easy to argue against it. In reality, however, married individuals are more successful, earn more, and even live longer. So finding Mr. or Mrs. Right is an excellent goal to have.

3. Have Children

The only reason you’re here is that everyone above you in your family tree has had children-since life began. Having kids is a universal life goal. You’ll know why after you have them.

4. Buy a House

When I graduated college, I dreamed of owning a house on a small patch of land in the countryside of England. But, life decided to take me on a two-decade journey around Asia instead. Eventually, I’ll buy that house and check this goal off my list. So, what kind of house will you buy?

5. Buy a Car

Buying your first car is a big deal. It’s probably the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought up to that point. But it sets you on a path to achieving big goals. And it gets you to work each day too.

6. Get the Job You Want

I’ve done many jobs I didn’t like. I worked as a barista, on checkout, and as an elementary school teacher, to name a few. Finally, getting the job you want is unexplainable to people still dragging themselves to their 9-5s. Your dream job is worth striving for, so it must be on your list.

7. Start a Business

Starting a business might not be for you, but if it is, it’s a goal that will take up a considerable part of your life.

8. Be Debt Free

Some debts are a necessary evil, like mortgages or student loan debt, but debt from non-essential areas can also crop up on us. Lifestyle creep is a phenomenon that can bury us in small expenses over time.

Becoming debt free is a great goal. It will lower your stress levels and give you choices you might not have otherwise.

9. Do Something for Society

There are so many ways that people have contributed to society. You don’t have to invent the next great piece of tech or cure disease to make a difference. Here are some ways you can do something for the community:

10. Move to Another Country

Have you ever dreamed of moving to another country? Waking up each day to the strange sights and smells and talking to the locals in their own language feels like a dream come true. It’s a worthwhile goal, but don’t think it will just happen. You have to make it happen! So the first step is putting it on your list.

11. Learn a Language

Mastering a foreign language is a long process (trust me, I speak 4.) Anyone who says you can learn a language in a month or a year isn’t being honest. Of course, you can learn a lot in a month or a year, but to truly master a language will take years of sustained effort.

12. Learn to Cook

If you eat three meals a day and live to be 80, you will eat over 87,000 meals in your lifetime. Few life goals will make such an impact on your life as learning to cook. The trick to learning to cook is not to learn the basics, not to know the classics, but to learn your favorites.

13. Run a Marathon

A marathon is 26 miles which might as well be 100 miles when you start training. But over a year, most people can build up their stamina to run a full marathon. All it takes is the will to do it.

14. Get the Body You’ve Always Wanted

We can’t all be Arnold Schwarzenegger look-alikes, but we can have the body we want if we’re realistic about it. It might mean losing weight or gaining some muscle, but you can do it if you set yourself a goal and give yourself the time to achieve it.

15. Read the Classics, Become Well-Read

In the Western tradition, the classics start with Homer. There are a few must-reads down the centuries, such as Virgil, Milton, and Shakespeare. You can decide which other books in the canon you must read. Here are a few lists that might help

16. Write a Book

Writing a book seems like a mammoth task, and it is. The research stage may take months before you start writing, and the editing stage may take even longer. Some say that everyone has one book in them, do you?

17. Become a Millionaire

Is becoming a millionaire a realistic goal? I don’t know. But I think that it is achievable if you are willing to work hard over a lifetime. Unfortunately, most people aren’t industrious enough or willing to work consistently over such a long period. Are you?

18. Travel the World

Travel is a life goal that everyone should make time for. It’s not just that you’ll learn about other peoples, places, and cultures, but you’ll also see yourself in new ways too.

After living in China, for example, I started to see how important being an individual is for people back home. It’s reflected in the way we talk. In China, I hear the same questions and answers from people all over the country.

Life Goals vs. Other Goals

Don’t get life goals confused with career goals or personal goals etc. Although also important, those are more specific targets within the different areas of your life. Think of life goals as the headings on the outline of your life.

“Build a business” is a life goal, “achieve 1 million in sales” or “get a promotion” are career goals.

“Buy my dream house” is a life goal, “renovate the kitchen” is a personal goal.

“Getting married” is a life goal, “asking her out” is a personal goal.

People tend to categorize goals as either long-term goals or short-term goals, which can be helpful, but life goals don’t fit into either of these categories. Most life goals are long-term. However, the time frame is irrelevant when it comes to life goals.

Personal Goals Examples

Career Goals Examples

  • Create a profitable side hustle
  • Take your boss’ job
  • Double your income

Educational Goals Examples

  • Go back to school
  • Start a daily reading habit
  • Learn to code

Finance Goals Examples

  • Pay off your student loans
  • Start investing a percentage of your wages
  • Start a college fund

Travel Goals Examples

  • Travel to every continent
  • Visit every state
  • Go on a pilgrimage

Fitness Goals Examples

  • Get six-pack abs
  • Bench 225lbs
  • Build a yoga practice

Self-Development Goals Examples

Tips for Working Towards Your Big Goals in Life

  1. Set SMART goals to help you achieve your life goals. For example, if you have a life goal of starting a business, you might begin with a financial goal of saving six months of expenses to help get the company off the ground.
  2. Use small goals to get you there. Working on a big goal is stressful, like “Get Married,” how do you work on that when you’re single? But by making small goals for this year, you can create an action plan and track your progress, “Ask someone out every week” is not a big goal, but it could lead to you getting married.
  3. Write them down. Ask any productivity guru, and they will tell you that some magic happens when you get things out of your head. David Allen says, “The brain is for having ideas, not for storing them.” So write it down after you’ve had the idea. That way, you won’t forget it and can engage with it more objectively.
  4. Life Goal Planning. Once you have your life goals in front of you, go through them one by one, asking yourself, “How can I get there?” and “What could I do today to start making progress?” Asking these questions will help you create a life plan for your goals and objectives.
  5. Improve your time management and productivity. If you can figure out a way to do more and procrastinate less every single day, you’ll improve your chances of accomplishing your goals sooner.
  6. Know Your Goals. In The 10X Rule, Grant Cardone tells us to “Write down your goals every day” By seeing your goals over and over again, the goals are clear in your mind, and you can prioritize them throughout the day.
  7. Set Realistic Goals. Sure we all want to be millionaires and be famous, industry-leading entrepreneurs or become thought leaders, and maybe that’s reasonable for you, but for most people, it’s unattainable. Setting stretch goals is a good practice to help push yourself and unlock your true potential, but unrealistic goals will only frustrate you.

Don’t Let Life Pass You By

It’s easy to think that marriage, jobs, and buying houses just happen naturally as we grow older. And sometimes they do.

But being intentional about the things we want to achieve in life will ensure we work toward them each day and not be left wishing we had done something different.

Gregory Gaynor Avatar

Meet Gregory, a writer and the brains behind Face Dragons. He's the go-to guy for getting things done.

Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.