12 Personal Goals to Set For Yourself This Year

UPDATED: February 7, 2024
PUBLISHED: February 7, 2024
Young man jogging outside to show you can accomplish the goals you set for yourself

Goals are essential to personal and professional development, but knowing which goals to set for yourself can feel overwhelming. You know there are areas of your life where you want to make progress, but you may need guidance figuring out where to start or how to identify what you need to do.

Keep reading to discover some personal and professional goals that will put you on the right path.

Set SMART goals to increase your chance of success 

It’s crucial to have a plan that outlines the necessary steps you should take to achieve a goal. Using a goal-setting theory called the SMART goal system can help you navigate the journey toward your goals.

The SMART system enables you to define your goals and pair them with actionable steps and a timeline to ensure you make real progress. 

SMART stands for:

  • Specific: Determine and set a concrete goal, so you know what you want to achieve. Instead of setting a goal to ‘save more money,’ your specific goal might be to save 10% of every paycheck. 
  • Measurable: Set an objective measure of success so you know that you are progressing and when you’ve officially reached your goal.
  • Attainable: A goal should be challenging but still doable. Don’t set such a complicated or out-of-reach target that you get frustrated and give up. 
  • Relevant: Ensure your goal fits your values and vision for your life or career. 
  • Time-bound: Set a deadline to achieve your final goal, and set up milestones within that timeframe to track your progress. 
Pyramid of Success offer

As you learn how to set goals for yourself, remember to be realistic about what you can accomplish. Don’t try to overhaul your life all at once. Work on one or two goals at a time to have the best chance at success.

Personal development goals to set for yourself

Learning to set powerful goals for your personal development and sticking to them is a great way to achieve discipline in other areas of your life as well. If you need some ideas, consider these personal goal-setting examples:

1. Journal for 20 minutes a day

Journaling is a beneficial way to process and understand your inner thoughts. A journaling practice can help you manage anxiety, reduce stress and reflect on the aspects of your life that you’d like to improve. 

When and how you journal is up to you, but set aside time each day to write down your thoughts. If you need ideas to get started, the internet is full of goal-setting questions and prompts, but you can also try stream of consciousness writing or free writing. 

2. Wake up 30 minutes earlier

Waking up earlier can reduce stress and increase happiness. Having a little extra time to savor your coffee, find your child’s missing shoe or journal means you can start each day calmly and without chaos and stress. 

If you’re in the habit of staying in bed until the last possible moment, try setting your alarm five minutes earlier and working your way up to your desired time to rise and shine. To make getting up a little easier, try going to bed earlier and create a nightly routine to relax and unwind before lights out. 

3. Practice saying “no”

Learning to say “no” more often frees up your time and mental load to say “yes” to what is truly important to you. Although it takes practice and can feel awkward, saying “no” allows you to set clear boundaries and improve your mental health. 

Part of saying “no” effectively is understanding what you do and do not want. Practice different scenarios with your partner or friends ahead of time, to make saying “no” in the moment easier.

Professional goals to set for yourself

Setting self-improvement goals can help you get ahead at work. By increasing your skills and proficiency in various ways, you’re paving the road to succeed in your current role and in whatever future positions you hold. 

4. Learn a new skill

Learning new skills at work makes you more adaptable and can boost your confidence. The more skills you have to offer, the more indispensable you are likely to be in the workplace.

Start by assessing your current skills and reflecting on any feedback you may have received from a manager or supervisor. Then, seek online courses, continuing education or other sources to assist you in leveling up. 

5. Become a better communicator

Learning to communicate effectively is an invaluable life skill. Not only does good communication cut down on confusion and conflict, but being a clear communicator can help you build trust and positivity among your team. 

A large part of communicating is learning how to listen. Practice active listening skills and study different communication techniques, including nonverbal communication. Practice your new skills whenever you can, even if you’re just making small talk. 

6. Network more

Networking effectively can boost your career, build new connections and strengthen existing relationships. It’s also an excellent way to stay current on what’s happening in your industry. 

Spend some time looking for organizations or companies you’re interested in, and seeing if any networking events or conventions are coming up. Remember that networking doesn’t only take place in a professional setting. You may find a valuable network by volunteering or participating in a hobby. 

Physical goals to set for yourself

For many of us, changing our physical appearance is often high on the list of goals we set. However, physical goals don’t have to focus on appearance at all. Instead, you can focus on improving your health and enjoying movement for the sake of it. 

7. Find a new-to-you type of movement to do

Finding novel ways to move your body can have countless benefits, including developing new skills, increasing confidence and having fun. 

Instead of staying with the same tried-and-true workout you’ve always done, try different types of exercise. Challenge yourself to attempt something intimidating, and approach the endeavor with a sense of playfulness. 

8. Drink more water

There are many compelling reasons to drink more water. Staying hydrated facilitates a normal body temperature, cushions your joints and even decreases the risk for anxiety and depression. 

Carry a reusable water bottle to encourage yourself to drink more. Consider swapping out a high-calorie drink for a glass of water at least once daily, and add citrus, cucumbers or berries for a little flavor infusion. 

9. Increase your strength

Strength training has multiple benefits, including improving your ability to do everyday activities, protecting your joints from injury and improving your balance and stability. 

Look for ways to incorporate bodyweight or dumbbell exercises into your fitness routine. If you’re new to exercise, remember to go slowly, and consider taking a class or working with a trainer to learn proper form and technique so you can exercise safely. 

Social goals to set for yourself

As you examine areas in your life to set goals, don’t forget about improving your social life. Developing solid friendships is essential to your mental and physical health.

10. Try a new hobby

Exploring a new hobby or class is a great way to expand your circle. Not only can you make new friends that you have something in common with, but developing new interests is also good for your brain and encourages creativity. 

If there’s an activity or hobby you’ve always wanted to try, find a class or instructor to teach you the basics. While trying something different can be intimidating, set a small goal for each class—such as speaking with at least three new people or trying one thing that scares you. 

11. Reconnect with an old friend

Social connections can be harder to maintain as we get older. While making new friends and acquaintances is essential, strengthening your existing relationships can significantly impact your mental and emotional health.

Set a weekly or monthly goal to reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to recently, and let them know you’re thinking of them. You can text, call or even write letters, but focus on rekindling an old connection.

12. Volunteer 

Volunteering in your community is an ideal way to spread positivity and give back. Volunteering encourages a sense of purpose and pride in your community, and it’s a great way to meet new friends. 

To find the right volunteer opportunity, consider your skills and experience, then look for an organization that reflects your values and interests. Finding the sweet spot where those things meet may take some time, but the outcome will be worthwhile.

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