Personal Development Goals: 43 Examples & How To

Author: Emma Williams
Author: Emma Williams

Chief Research Officer at HIGH5

Table of Contents
Stop guessing your natural talents. Find out your strengths now.

Personal development is about taking control of your destiny, so it’s important that we set goals that we can achieve in our professional and personal lives.

In this post, we’re going to cover 43 examples of personal goals that you can use for inspiration, but first, we need to look at some of the key points surrounding goal setting.

Let’s get right into it.

List with 43 Examples of Personal Development Goals

The following are 43 examples of actionable steps regarding personal development goals:

  1. Increase productivity in the workplace by learning how to let go of unnecessary tasks.
  2. Increase your reading comprehension rate by working through one book every month – with a plan to get up to three books per month.
  3. Learn mindfulness meditation techniques and practice each day for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Learn how to analyze a balance sheet and learn about financial statements.
  5. Take at least one vacation day per month to do something fun and exciting that you wouldn’t normally get the time for in your busy schedule.
  6. Make plans with friends, family, or a significant other at least once per week and make sure those plans are followed through on.
  7. Spend more quality time with your kids each week.
  8. Practice gratitude every day for 15 minutes by writing down three things you’re grateful for from the previous day.
  9. Improve your nutrition by eating healthier meals and snacks – improve your overall diet as well.
  10. Read two non-fiction books a month related to personal development topics such as goal setting or productivity skills (e.g., The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People ). Books can help you eliminate bad habits, increase your creative thinking, improve your negotiation skills and presentation skills and give you an overall positive attitude.
  11. Complete a university degree program or earn certificates to improve your career.
  12. Improve your diet by eating more fresh vegetables, fruits and grains – drink less soda or alcohol, and if you do drink, do so in moderation.
  13. Set aside time each week to prepare healthy meals, do morning exercise for at least 30 minutes per day (e.g., yoga), meditate for 10 minutes every morning and read something that will inspire you daily such as a self-help book.
  14. Watch fewer TV shows each week and read two books instead.
  15. Practice mindfulness once per day for five minutes throughout the day.
  16. Complete a budget sheet once per month to determine how much money you have left after paying all of your bills.
  17. Treat yourself to something special once per week (e.g., a nice meal, movie, or concert).
  18. Complete a gratitude journal every day for five minutes by writing down three things you’re grateful for about your life.
  19. Practice meditation each morning for 10 minutes and each evening before bedtime for 15 minutes.
  20. Improve your diet by eating less sugar and processed foods, such as fast food. Your goal is to eat cleaner meals with more whole foods – which will greatly improve your energy levels throughout the day.
  21. Learn how to effectively manage others in your workplace so that they can effectively help you achieve goals and tasks on a faster timeline while maintaining high levels of quality (i.e., do what’s right versus doing quickly).
  22. Learn how to say “no” when someone asks for your time or attention – especially if you know they are not a good fit with your current goals.
  23. Complete an online course about goal setting.
  24. Spend five minutes per day reading something motivational, inspirational, or educational that will help you live a more fulfilling life.
  25. Plan better meals by spending 10 minutes each week to plan meals for the following week. This can help you eat cleaner meals and save time and money on groceries.
  26. Give back to your community by volunteering an hour per week of your time at a local charity related to your interests. For example, if you like animals, volunteer at a local pet shelter; if you like music, volunteer at a local charity for youth that offers musical instrumentation.
  27. Resolve conflicts within your relationships in a peaceful manner by practicing effective communication skills and even networking skills. Learn to listen to others and understand where they’re coming from, no matter if you agree with them or not.
  28. Set aside time each week to practice yoga, walk for 30 minutes, meditate for 15 minutes, and attend religious services on Sundays. You can do all four of these activities on Sunday so that it becomes routine as most proactive people do. If you don’t have time during the day, choose two of these activities – spend 10 minutes per activity for 45 minutes total.
  29. Increase your productivity by completing a small task each day that doesn’t take more than 30 minutes to complete.
  30. Practice effective time management soft skills in your personal and professional life. For example, limit Internet browsing during work hours; if you must browse the web for work, keep this activity limited to five minutes per day and don’t get distracted by social media sites.
  31. Focus on developing stronger relationships with friends and family members (who support your goals) so that they can help you achieve these goals. For example, if you’re trying to be healthier, find someone who has similar goals who is willing to go on walks with you regularly – or someone who will cook meals together instead of eating out.
  32. Plan better lunches at work every day by packing your lunch the night before. This action will help you save time and money, and improve your health by eating healthier foods during work hours.
  33. Make a schedule each week for household chores, which include cleaning, cooking, and yard care. Doing so will prevent stress from building up while also helping you live a more productive life.
  34. Take a 10-minute walk outside after dinner to increase your creativity (by stimulating your mind). If you ever feel stuck with tasks at work or in your personal life, step out of the office for a few minutes – take a break and get some fresh air. Step away from that problem so that you can come back later with new perspectives on how to approach it.
  35. Start learning about ways to start an online business. If you enjoy working online, see if there are ways that you can make a living while telecommuting. One option for this is to start an online business – the Internet has an infinite amount of resources (websites, videos, and communities) where you can learn about starting a business.
  36. If your company does not have a mentorship program in place, look into developing one for yourself. Mentorship programs consist of pairing employees with more experienced individuals who can help them develop their careers or even just lend support to someone trying to do what’s right in their personal life or at work.
  37. Spend some time each day on a personal project, which can range from reading more books to learning how to play an instrument to writing a book. Whatever you decide to do, give yourself time each day to work on this passion project.
  38. Choose one small project that you’ve been putting off for weeks or months and complete it. For example, choose something that you said you would start working on during the holidays but didn’t get around to it. Start taking action, so that you can move past procrastination with your goals.
  39. Work daily towards completing three types of tasks – these should consist of short-, medium- and long-term projects. You need to have a balance of tasks that don’t take you weeks or months to complete and other tasks that do; the amount of time it takes for each task is not important. Having good time management skills is.
  40. Finding personal development goals can be challenging – but once you choose your top priorities, it will get easier to make goals for yourself. For example, if you want to earn a degree online through an accredited university, enroll in a program today so that you can work towards this end goal.
  41. Select a few books that you’ve wanted to read for some time but haven’t made the time to read them; place these three books near your desk so that they’re easy to find. Keep reading each day until you finish each of these books – and then choose three more.
  42. Make a list of your short-term goals (ones that can be completed in one month or less) by focusing on either activity, skill, or piece of knowledge that you would like to gain. Break down each goal into small steps that lead towards completing it; for example, if one goal is to start saving money for retirement, your next step could be to sign up with a 401k plan at work.
  43. Continuously work on getting better in different areas of your life.

What are Personal Development Goals?

With everything that’s on the go, it’s easy to lose track of what truly matters in life.

Personal development is about taking control of your destiny, so it’s important that we set specific, measurable goals for ourselves.

There is no “one size fits all” list of personal development goals — these should be tailored to reflect your unique values and motivations.

One person might want to become more musically inclined while another may seek greater financial security; they’re both personal goals worthy of pursuit.

In other words, everyone’s definition of success is different. When it comes to personal development goals, you should treat your life like a buffet.

You don’t need to have every course.

What are Personal Development Goals

Personal development is about learning and improving yourself, but you can do that in any way you want, including:

  • through the arts (painting, dancing, etc.)
  • education (classes or academic research)
  • travel (taking weekend trips out of town),
  • sports (playing on a team).

What’s important is that you never feel too constrained by your own goals.

If they’re not working for you anymore, change them. If something comes up in your life and it doesn’t fit with your current goals, make sure to adjust so you can move forward.

And if personal development just isn’t going well for you – find out why and determine how to fix it – as with many other things in life, a mental attitude is key to continuous self-development.

Benefits of Setting up Personal Development Goals

Personal development goals should be tailored to reflect your unique values.

In a society driven by consumerism and competition, it can be difficult for people to truly identify what they value.

Focusing on personal development goals will help you clarify who you are at the core and explore those values through action.

If you want success, you have to make sure that every decision supports your ultimate goal — not just today but also in the future.

Personal development is about getting clear on how we want our lives to be and taking action toward that vision.

When done right, this approach sets us up for much greater long-term growth than simply doing whatever comes next or checking items off a never-ending to-do list.

Personal development goals can also help you become more resilient in the face of adversity.

In life, we’re going to experience setbacks and failures through external conditions — how we respond to them determines how successful we’ll be moving forward.

While some people may try to discourage or even sabotage your efforts (often without realizing it), they don’t define who you are or what’s possible for you.

The only person who can hold you back from achieving your goals is . . . well, yourself.

So say goodbye to excuses and hello to achieving whatever it is you want in life through setting achievable goals.

How to Set and Measure Personal Development Goals

It’s important to know what you want to attain in your personal development so that you’ll know what goals to set for yourself.

To do this, it’s best to figure out the type of personal development goal that will allow you to progress the most toward what it is you want.

That being said, it can be difficult to come up with these personal goals, and sometimes people need a little help in figuring out where they’re going.

One of the main reasons why people set and fail to reach certain personal development goals is because they never take the time to figure out which type of goal will work best for them or they try to do this on their own.

So the first step in setting personal development goals is deciding what it is that you value and defining your values.

Decide what’s important to you, whether it’s being a great parent, becoming a leader at your job, or raising funds for charity; define what those things mean to you and jot down some notes about how you’re going to achieve them.

From there, decide if proactivity or reactivity is better suited to achieving your desired outcome.

This can be done by asking yourself questions like “Am I mostly motivated by intrinsic or extrinsic factors?” and “Will setting this goal gives me more peace of mind and improve my growth mindset or will it stress me out?”.

Personal development goals are also important to set because they allow you to measure your growth over time.

How to Set and Measure Personal Development Goals

For instance, if your personal development goal is to become a productive freelancer, you can evaluate how well your projects are going by determining the amount of effort you’ve put in as well as whether or not the project was successful.

If you’re continually finding yourself putting in extra hours just to keep up with everything that needs to get done but nothing seems to be getting finished, then perhaps you need to reevaluate your work strategy.

Or if you find yourself skipping out on social activities to work on your projects, you might need to take a step back and consider why it is that you’re choosing to do so.

Doing all of these things will help you determine the type of personal development goal you should set.

And if you’re still having trouble figuring out what’s best for you, don’t worry.

Taking the time to reflect on how well certain goals have worked in the past can help simplify this process.

Another thing to consider when setting personal development goals is whether or not they are measurable.

Without there being any way to measure your achievements, it can be difficult to keep yourself motivated throughout the process of achieving their outcome.

To make sure that this won’t happen, make sure that each goal has a tangible prize attached to it.

For instance, if your goal is simply “to have more physical health,” then chances are you’re going to find yourself falling off the wagon almost immediately because there’s no real incentive for doing so.

If instead, you say “I want to run a 5k by May 1st” then not only do you have a specific deadline but also a prize to work towards achieving.

Even when it comes to your overall life goals, you need to make sure that they’re measurable and specific for them not to feel overwhelming.

If you’re working on a personal development goal of becoming a better parent, then perhaps the sub-goals of this would be “to spend a longer period of time with my children” or “to teach them responsibility”.

That way, if running errands is what’s taking up most of your free time, then it can be easily substituted with something else like spending the family game night with them instead.

Benefits of Using Personal Development Goals for Work

The benefits of using personal development goals for work include all of the following:

A clear sense of direction

Let’s say that you’re tired of working in positions where you’re unappreciated and your efforts go unnoticed.

You may feel lost, aimless, or unhappy with your job – but once you establish personal development goals for work to achieve at work, this will immediately change.

By setting clear objectives on which you can focus every day at work, you’ll have a much better sense of direction and purpose.

Improved work ethic

Another benefit of having clear-cut goals that you wish to achieve at work is that your work ethic will be greatly improved.

Your sense of purpose and direction will be so strong that you’ll want to work harder than ever before; this can include everything from spending extra time on tasks to see them through successfully to putting off distractions (you don’t have a set end date or finish line yet) until they’re out of the way.

Better workplace relationships

Benefits of Using Personal Development Goals for Work

Since your work ethic and sense of purpose will be greatly improved, you’ll likely have more positive relationships with coworkers as a result.

If you don’t spend unnecessary time on tasks or get distracted, then they may want to do the same; this can help build camaraderie between all employees in an office setting.

Increased productivity

If you’re working towards specific personal development goals and have a sense of direction, your level of productivity will likely increase as well.

When you know what your end goal is and how much effort is required to achieve that goal, you’ll be motivated to complete work faster than usual.

Find New Challenges

If your goals are personal development goals, you’ll want to continue striving forward and not become complacent.

When you’re working towards a specific goal and reach it without receiving the same level of satisfaction that you did previously, then it’s clear that you need to set new challenges.

This can be anything from getting promoted to learning a new skill or reaching out to people you haven’t spoken to in a while to help you complete tasks more quickly and effectively.

In the end, setting personal development goals will help make sure that you keep moving forward.

Define Your Success

It’s important to set personal development goals that are relevant, achievable, and measurable; moreover, you should make sure that these goals also align with your interests.

When you have a clear goal insight of what you wish to achieve, then it’s likely that you’ll have more satisfaction once this goal is reached.

You might find yourself surprised by how much money was saved or the number of hours worked once every task has been completed; this can be exhilarating and allow you to shoot for a larger goal the next time around.

What Are SMART Goals?

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

A SMART  goal happens when it meets all these criteria – that means you’re more likely to see it through as well.

Let’s dive deeper into each of these factors.

Specific Goals

A specific goal is one that you can easily define. This means that your goals have clear definitions.

The clearer your definition, the easier it will be to complete them.

For example, if you want to get more exercise over the next month, this is a broad and ambiguous goal; if instead, you want to run on a couple of days for at least 30 minutes each day and do weight training two times per week, then this is a more clearly defined goal.

Measurable Goals

Goals in life should have metrics associated with them.

This means that there are certain numbers or ways of measuring what’s accomplished when it comes to those goals – such as an amount in terms of money saved.

Let’s say, for example, that you want to save $300 per month for a new computer; once you’ve saved enough money to reach this amount, your goal will be complete.

Goal tracking is crucial at this stage.

What Are SMART Goals

Attainable Goals

Let’s say that a goal is attainable when it’s possible – but not certain – for you to accomplish.

For instance, let’s say that your goal is to double your salary from $1 million to $2 million.

This goal is attainable; however, you can’t be certain to accomplish it because there are too many variables that may change.

Relevant Goals

Some goals aren’t relevant – which means they don’t matter or apply to your life.

Let’s say that you have a goal of never eating chocolate again.

Unless this applies specifically to the way you want to live your life, it’s not relevant; as such, it won’t motivate you regularly.

Focus more on goals that you’re passionate about instead of goals that don’t excite you.

Time-Bound Goals

You need to set both long and short-term goals for yourself.

A long-term goal could be to buy a new computer in the next 12 months, and a short-term goal would be to put aside $300 per month for this; the result of both goals is that you have enough money saved up so that you can purchase an updated device.

How Do You Incorporate SMART Goals?

To incorporate SMART goals into your life, you need to know what your current status is about your goals.

For example, if you want to increase your savings, assess how much money you’re currently saving each month and build a plan that will get you from there to where you ultimately wish to be.

Once you understand the exact ways in which goals can help motivate your future, it’s time for action.

Create an outline of all the steps that it would take to accomplish each goal – for instance, if one goal is to learn French within six months, break this down into weekly lessons until the end date has been reached.

Examples of SMART Goals

In reality, examples of a SMART Goal include:

  • Find Happy Hour Activities. 
  • Take a Class About A Topic You’re Passionate About.
  • Read More Books to Keep Your Mind Sharp and Current.
  • Wait 2 Hours Before Checking In on Emails.

When you have clear-cut plans in mind, you can pursue those plans with purpose; this means that when you get distracted or discouraged, you can keep trudging forward until the end date of your goal has been reached.

Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Development Goals

What are the 5 areas of personal development?

Personal development can be divided into 5 specific areas:

  1. Physical – Physical development means working on your body, engaging in physical exercises, or taking up a new hobby such as dancing, biking, or any type of playing sports games.
  2. Emotional – Emotional development means becoming more understanding of your own and other people’s feelings and realizing their perspectives.
  3. Social – Social development means advancing your skills in verbal and non-verbal communication, relationship management, or conflict resolution.
  4. Mental – Mental development means developing effective patterns of thinking and problem-solving.
  5. Spiritual – Spiritual development means being aware of the reality behind this particular time and space.

What are good personal goals?

Here is a small list of some of the most optimal personal goals:

  • Use your skills and abilities to realize your full potential.
  • Find a fulfilling job that will make you happy and satisfied.
  • Become an expert in one field that you find the most interesting.
  • Work on your weaknesses and develop your strengths.
  • Find a new hobby from time to time.
  • Save money to travel.
  • Find a life partner.
  • Develop satisfying social relationships.
  • Improve your overall psychological well-being.

Overall Conclusion For Personal Development Goals

In conclusion, setting personal development goals can help you meet your career and life goals.

All of the above will help you in some way or another when it comes to reaching your desired goals.

You just need to set goals up correctly and then work towards them relentlessly.

The most important part is being persistent with your goals.

If you can be persistent, then you’ll have the right component for success in place.

Case Studies, Academic, and Research-Based Sources:

  • Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). “Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087–1101.
  • Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). “Flow: The psychology of optimal experience.” Harper & Row.
  • Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1979). “Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk.” Econometrica, 47(2), 263–291.
  • Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). “Positive Psychology: An Introduction.” American Psychologist, 55(1), 5–14.
  • Dweck, C. S. (2006). “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” Random House.
  • Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). “The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success?” Psychological Bulletin, 131(6), 803–855.
  • Covey, S. R. (1989). “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Free Press.
Author: Emma Williams - Chief Research Officer at HIGH5
Author: Emma Williams - Chief Research Officer at HIGH5

Emma is a certified strengths and career coach with more than 25 years of international experience in helping individuals and organizations achieve success by nailing and maximizing their unique value propositions. She is an entrepreneur, proud mother and a C-level executive at HIGH5TEST, where she leads its coaching and research programs.

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