Achieving a lifelong goal is a dream for many people. Turn that dream into a reality by setting feasible life goals and making concrete action plans.
Life goals are personal. Not everyone wants the same things in life, so not everyone will develop the same goals.
However, there are a few life goals that everyone should consider. Here are ten life goals paramount to a fulfilling life.
Top 10 Life Goals Everyone Should Undertake
1. Be Happy
Happiness is the ultimate goal in life.
The famous story attributed to John Lennon says it best:
“When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
Life isn’t about doing a particular job or having a specific profession. It’s about being happy and enjoying your limited time on this Earth.
2. Discover Who You Are
Self-actualization sits atop Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, showcasing that discovering our true selves is essential for a fulfilling life.
Accepting yourself, flaws and all, is challenging, especially in a world that attempts to force everyone to fulfill specific roles. Those who achieve self-actualization are comfortable in their skin, know who they are and what they want, and embrace the traits that make them unique.
Self-Discovery is a lifelong process. Make it a life goal to push yourself to your limits and learn everything you can about your strengths, desires, capabilities, and needs.
3. Find Peace
Our society is constantly on the go. Among the to-do lists, appointments, chores, and everyday bustle, it’s challenging to find a moment for ourselves, much less dedicate time to embracing inner peace.
Finding peace takes practice. Learn to put aside the stressors of daily life and focus on the present moment. Be at one with where you are now.
There are numerous paths to finding peace. Many take comfort in the spiritual teachings of their religious practice, while others use physical tools, such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing, to keep themselves grounded.
4. Participate in Something Greater than Yourself
We all want to look back on our lives and know we made a difference somewhere, somehow.
Set a life goal to dedicate time to a worthy cause. Be a part of something bigger than yourself and make a difference in the world.
It doesn’t have to be an epic quest. There are thousands of opportunities to participate in worthy causes. Attend a protest, work for a political campaign, or volunteer at a local charity. Make an effort to show kindness to the creatures that share our planet.
When you look back on a life well lived, you’ll know that your actions added a little extra good to the world. That’s a goal worth pursuing.
5. Become an Expert
Everyone has a topic that piques their interest. Whatever that topic is, dive in and learn everything there is to know about, becoming a subject matter expert in a field that interests you.
Learn everything there is to know about the migratory patterns of North American songbirds or be the go-to expert on Path of Exile character build-outs. It doesn’t matter how niche your chosen subject is; find something you love and make it a goal in life to learn every nugget you can about it.
6. Gain Financial Stability
The second layer of Maslow’s pyramid is safety. Our physical needs come first, but we need to feel secure knowing we can continue to meet those physical needs.
In our current society, the best way to ensure that we can continue to meet our physical needs and climb the pyramid is via financial stability.
Achieve financial stability by learning an in-demand skill and finding secure employment. Save and invest a portion of each paycheck to build your nest egg, which will help you maintain financial stability throughout your life.
7. Develop Empathy
Humans are complicated creatures who each approach problems from their own perspectives and worldviews. Developing empathy can help you understand the perspective of others and help you navigate emotional situations.
Empathy is about understanding where others are coming from. It allows you to see things from their point of view and gain deeper insight into complex problems.
When you approach conflicts with empathy, you can meet others where they are and find solutions that work for everyone.
8. Foster Relationships
A striking feature of humanity is our ability to cooperate with others.
A touching internet story commonly attributed to Anthropologist Margret Mead claims that humanity’s ability to help each other through difficult times was an early sign of civilization. According to the tale, a student asked Mead what the earliest sign of civilization was, and shockingly, Mead responded that a healed femur discovered in an adult skeleton marked the onset of society.
Mead explained that severely injured animals can no longer defend themselves in the wild and often succumb to predation. A healed femur proves that humans helped each other through their injuries.
Though experts dispute the story’s truth, the point is humans need each other to survive. Make a goal to find your community and develop meaningful relationships with others. Make friends and foster those relationships through the good and bad.
9. Experience Love
“The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief, but the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love”
– Hilary Stanton Zunin
Epic poems, sorrowful songs, and influential movies declaring the glory of love fill our collective consciousness. Great love is a thing of beauty, a precious gift, and one of humanity’s most powerful emotions.
With the joy of love comes the pain of loss. However, you can’t let that pain hold you back. Open yourself up to love. Embrace the heartwarming bliss like no other.
Remember that love doesn’t have to be romantic. Although finding love with a significant other is a treasure, it’s not for everyone. Other types of love are valid, whether the love for a dear friend, parent, child or even beloved pet. Don’t let the fear of loss prevent you from experiencing the greatest joy.
Your final life goal should be to live. Stop merely existing, trudging through the daily drudgery over and over. Live a life you’re proud of. Make memories. Enjoy the time you have on this planet.
The options for a fulfilling life are endless and highly dependent on your priorities. You can check off a hundred different bucket list activities, immerse yourself in a niche subject, or dedicate your life to service.
The critical aspect is that you get to choose how you live. Don’t let others force you into a role you don’t want, and don’t let society dictate how you will live your life.
It’s your life. Live it the way you see fit.
Life Goals by Age
Social media abounds with influencers’ 30 by 30 and other life goals people think you should accomplish by a certain age.
The truth is that life works out differently for everyone. We have different skills, limitations, strengths, weaknesses, hopes, and dreams. There is no set life goal you need to achieve by a certain age.
Live life at your own pace, and don’t worry about where you are in relation to others.
Life Goal Examples
Need some inspiration to set your life goals? Here are 40 goals you can select to live your version of a fulfilling life.
Remember, not everyone is the same, and you don’t have to do anything that doesn’t speak to you. Use this list to get your creative juices flowing and set goals to help you live your best life.
Travel the World
The world is full of wonder. From natural formations to historical sites and delicious foods to fantastic festivals, every corner of the planet has something spectacular to see.
Make world travel one of your top life goals to experience the diversity of thought and culture surrounding us.
Write a Book
Thousands of people dream of writing the next Great American novel. Turn that dream into a reality by setting a goal to write a book.
You don’t have to hit the best-seller list to be proud of your novel. Creating an epic story from your imagination is admirable whether you have one reader or one million readers.
Become a Millionaire
Once you’ve achieved financial stability, you might want to expand upon your financial goals to ensure you’re set for life.
A million dollars seems like a lot, but through steady investing, it’s achievable by the time you hit retirement.
Sail Around the World
Overland travel has perks, but nothing says adventure like sailing the seven seas.
You don’t need to buy your own boat and man all the stations to make this dream a reality. Consider working for a cruise line or cargo ship, sailing trade routes, and visiting ports around the world. The Navy also offers plenty of opportunities to explore ship life.
Earn a Ph.D.
A Ph.D. represents years of study. Scholars dedicate their lives to becoming masters of a specific field.
If you love academics, consider pursuing a Ph.D. as your top life goal. You’ll overflow with a sense of accomplishment upon successfully defending your dissertation and earning that coveted certificate.
Excel at Your Career Field
If you’ve found a career you love, make a goal to be the best you can be.
Volunteer for special assignments, join networking groups, and become one of the most respected professionals in your industry.
Raise a Family
Many people gain fulfillment by nurturing the next generation. If rearing a family is essential to you, make it your goal to raise children who will become well-adjusted, kind adults.
There’s no obligation to have kids if child-rearing isn’t for you. You can also consider fostering, adopting, becoming a step-parent, or volunteering to mentor kids with an organization like big brother/big sister if you don’t want biological children but want to help cultivate the next generation.
Build Generational Wealth
There are numerous ways to create this type of wealth. Simple index funds are a great start, but many choose real estate as a vehicle for long-term wealth building. Consider investing in real estate to create rental cash flow and have a tangible asset to pass on to your children.
Serve Your Country
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
Dedicate a portion of your life to serving your fellow countrymen. Join the National Guard to gain leadership skills and help out in times of disaster.
The military has its downsides, and it’s not the only option for achieving your goal of service to country. Consider joining a volunteer organization like Job Corps or the Red Cross. Run for political office to make your community a better place.
Create a Masterpiece
Explore your creative side by painting an epic masterpiece. Learn the techniques of different painting mediums and master the art of color theory to construct a work that will last throughout the ages.
Developing your skills as an artist takes time and practice. If you put the effort in, you will create mesmerizing pieces throughout your life. You may even become an influential master whose work will be remembered for centuries to come.
Prepare an Epic Meal
Although everyone should learn to cook the basics, the art of preparing a fine dining experience is on an entirely different level.
Discover how different flavors work together to enhance a dish and learn how to combine ingredients for a delightful culinary adventure.
If cooking isn’t a top priority, you should at least know how to make your favorite family recipes to continue passing them down to future generations.
Maintain a Healthy Body
Our bodies are the most important assets we have. Maintaining a healthy body and strong mind is integral to a happy, healthy life.
One of your top priorities should be to keep your body healthy. Take time to move, even if it’s just a brisk walk around the block. Balance your favorite junk foods with healthy options throughout the week to ensure you get the proper nutrients.
Take care of your body because it’s the only one you’ve got.
Study a Second Language
Language is a powerful tool allowing us to communicate abstract ideas. Broaden your horizons by learning one of the 7000 languages spoken worldwide.
Learning a new language takes time and effort. Start with an online learning platform like Rosetta Stone or Duolingo, and read children’s books and watch movies in your chosen language.
Master a Difficult Sport
Many niche sports require much more than throwing or kicking a ball. Martial arts, rock climbing, and fencing are all fun sports that require a lot of skill and dedication, even for non-professionals.
Find a sport you enjoy and dedicate your life to becoming a master. Learn always to hit the target with archery, become a black belt in karate, or earn a master diver’s certificate.
Learn to Play an Instrument
Music transcends language. A swinging jazz band can put a smile on everyone’s face, while a somber cello solo can cloak an audience in despair.
Discover your favorite instrument and learn to play a few tunes. Become a hit at family parties with an acoustic guitar or delight kids around the campfire with your epic harmonica skills.
Develop a Green Thumb
Growing plant life is a skill, not an innate ability. Learn which plants grow best in which seasons and how to plant vegetables for optimal yields.
Gardening has a ton of benefits. You can save money on groceries, sell the bounties of your labor for extra income, and beautify your yard.
Read Influential Novels
Humanity created millions of epic stories over the centuries. These stories can teach us and inspire us, make us laugh, and make us cry. They showcase the trials and tribulations of people across times and nations.
Reading even a small sampling of this treasure trove is worth pursuing. Aim to read 100 of the world’s most influential novels. Start with a book that speaks to you, and follow the path wherever it leads.
Compete in an Athletic Event
Triathlons, marathons, tough mudders, 10ks – you can find hard-core athletic events everywhere in the world. If you’re athletically inclined, make it a goal to compete in one of these momentous events.
Training for a marathon is no joke. Twenty-seven miles is a long way to run. It takes commitment and dedication to achieve such a feat, but it’s something you’ll be able to look back on with an immense sense of accomplishment.
Own a Home
Home ownership has long been touted as the American Dream. Young adults yearn for a quant two-story home with a white picket fence and yard where their children can play.
Turn that dream into a reality by making home ownership one of your top life goals. Although it seems out of reach in the current economic climate, it’s still achievable for most people. Consider moving outside of a major city to find affordable options, and set up a financial plan that makes saving for a down payment one of your top priorities.
Become a Trusted Mentor
One of the best things about being human is our capacity to help others. Turn that capacity into something beautiful by offering to mentor someone.
Mentorship comes in many forms. Take a young new mother under your wing if you’re an older mother or grandmother. Help new employees get adjusted to working life. Join organizations that help you share your knowledge with others. Make it a goal to be the person people turn to when they need help.
Tell a Great Story
Want to be the life of parties? Learn how to tell an epic story! Stories are about connecting. Great storytelling helps foster friendships.
You don’t have to be an outgoing extrovert to tell a great story. Even the shiest among us can build connections through storytelling by being authentic and relatable. The Moth is a fantastic resource for learning how to tell a compelling story.
Overcome Your Fear
Everyone is afraid of something. Whether it be spiders, heights, commitment, or anything else, overcoming your fear should be a top life goal.
Challenging a fear can be difficult. Take it slow and gradually introduce fear to your life. Get a little too close to a spiderweb. Let that corner spider live in peace. Take small steps to prevent spiders from controlling your life.
If your terror negatively affects your life, seek help from a therapist. Although the fear may never completely disappear, a therapist will help you learn to live with it.
Master Public Speaking
One of humanity’s top fears is public speaking, but learning to address a crowd is an excellent life skill to develop.
The great thing about public speaking is that it gets easier each time you do it. Join a club like Toastmasters to master the art in a safe environment and astonish your friends with fantastic wedding speeches and toasts at all the significant events in your life.
Do Something Exhilarating
Want to live an epic life? Do something that will get your blood pumping!
Jump out of an airplane, go paragliding, or climb a majestic mountain. Embark on a scary adventure that will thrill you and give you lasting memories of when you did something crazy.
Host the Perfect Party
Hosting is hard. Between developing a guest list, decorating, and preparing the perfect meal, you must ensure your visitors are all having a great time. It’s a nuanced skill not often celebrated for all the work that goes into it.
Make it a goal to be a great host. Have family celebrations at your home, throw dinner parties and potlucks, and become known for providing a safe, comfortable space for get-togethers. As a bonus, you’ll reap the benefits of more robust connections.
Start a Business
Want to own your own time? Starting a business might be a top life goal for you. With advances in internet technology, starting a business is easier than ever.
In the past, you needed a lot of capital to establish a brick-and-mortar storefront. Now, you can start an online business with only a small initial investment. Consider drop shipping, blogging, opening an Etsy shop, or one of the numerous online business ventures available.
Become a Star
Many people dream of being an actor or rockstar. In the past, that dream was unattainable without massive talent or amazing connections.
It’s easier than ever to become a star. Start a Youtube channel or Twitch stream and start building your audience. Become an influencer with Instagram or Tiktok. Develop your brand and grow into an internet celebrity.
Mend Broken Relationships
Humans are complicated. We have strong emotions and sometimes act out in fear, anger, or despair. We say things we don’t mean and hurt the people we love most.
Make an effort to mend fences. Apologize if you’ve done someone wrong. Reach out to them, even if they were in the wrong. They may be too scared to take the first step.
But Accept What You Can’t Fix
It’s essential to remember that not all relationships can be fixed. You don’t need to maintain relationships that don’t work for you, and you don’t need to expose yourself to toxic people.
Accept that some people will never change and that ending the relationship is sometimes the best course, even with close family.
Move Away from Home
The US Census Bureau found that nearly 60% of all people live within 10 miles of where they grew up. A hometown is safe and comfortable, but you miss out on the opportunity to grow and develop.
Move away from your hometown. Go to college in a different state or country. Take that job on the other coast. Moving is scary and expensive, but exploring new places and meeting new people will help you grow as a person.
Fix Up an Old House
HGTV shows inspired millions to try their hand at fixing up an old house. Purchasing a fixer-upper allows you to get into home ownership for a lower cost and transform it into your dream home.
Learn how to lay carpet, tear down drywall, and install new sinks. Become a DIY master while creating your perfect house.
Develop an Organization System
Our lives are busy. Many things can fall through the cracks between work priorities, maintaining a home, and social commitments. To keep up, make a goal to get and stay organized.
The best way to do this is to develop an organizational system that works for you. Bullet journals help many people keep track of their lives, but you could also use an online calendar, productivity app, or even a project management board. Getting organized will help you live a happier, healthier life.
Master Basic Life Skills
Everyone should know how to cook a few basic meals, change a tire, balance their budget, clean the oven, and make small talk.
Master the basics of life and take pleasure in knowing you can handle yourself in any situation.
Discover a Favorite Hobby
Dabble in the thousands of unique hobbies available to find something that speaks to you. Try painting, drawing, needlework, or crafting if you’re creative. Outdoorsy? Consider kayaking, fishing, hiking, or bird watching. Social butterflies may want to join or organize clubs and get together.
The options for hobbies are endless. Exploring the various opportunities allows you to learn about the craft and what you like and don’t like.
Excel at Something Unique
Once you discover a niche hobby you love, take the time to really learn it. Excel at it. Become one of the best people in the world at the thing you love to do.
Maybe you cook the tastiest chocolate rum cake on the planet or knit the funniest Christmas socks. Find something you love doing and become exceptional at it.
Create a Passive Income Stream
Passive income allows you to make money without doing anything. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to make enough money passively, never to have to work again?
Start saving and investing as soon as possible to turn this dream into a reality. Another option for creating a passive income stream is to create a digital product (such as a book or a printable).
Although it does take work up front, you can reap the benefits for years as the product continues to sell with no work on your part.
Make a Record of Your Life
In the end, all we will have is memories. Make those memories accessible by creating a record of your life as you go.
A scrapbook is a fantastic tool for memorializing your life, but it’s not the only tool. Photo albums, journals, video recordings, and even shadow boxes are all excellent tools for remembering the most important parts of your journey.
Face Your Trauma
Very few of us skate through life unscathed. Traumatic events are part of life, but you don’t have to let your trauma define you.
Seek help to overcome your trauma. Work through your feelings with a therapist and learn how to move on from any horrible things that may have happened in your life.
Embrace Your Flaws
Nobody is perfect. We all have quirks and flaws, and we’ve all had cringe moments. Rather than dwell on your shortcomings, embrace them.
The Japanese perfected the art of embracing imperfections through Kintsugi. They’d repair a broken object with gold to highlight the flaw rather than hide it. Kintsugi teaches us that our flaws make us unique, and we should celebrate them. Make it a goal to do the same with your own perceived weaknesses.
Be the Leader Others Strive to Emulate
Great leaders inspire, motivate, and encourage others. They offer empathy, support, and assistance while setting a standard that others strive to achieve.
Make it a goal to become that great leader in your professional and personal life. Be someone others can look up to. Act with integrity in all you do, and guide others on their own journeys.
How to Set Life Goals
Ready to set your epic life goals? Pick a few things that speak to you, and write them down. Start with your top five life goals and affirm that you will accomplish them.
When setting goals, stick to the SMART goal framework, which will help you complete your goals.
What are SMART Goals
SMART is an acronym for goal setting. Each goal should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based. A goal to walk on the moon may be specific and measurable, but it’s not realistic or achievable for most people. A goal to travel may be achievable, but with no specific destination or time frame attached, it might be more of a dream than a goal.
Life goals are a little different because some aren’t measurable, and those that are may have extended time frames.
You may want to wait 20 years before buying a house, and how do you measure happiness?
How to Achieve Your Life Goals
Achieving your life goals may take a lifetime. The long-term and sometimes abstract outcomes make it harder to set SMART life goals, but that doesn’t mean life goals aren’t achievable.
Follow these four steps, and you’ll be on track to getting everything you want out of life.
The truth is we can’t always have everything we want. You can’t have an amazing career while being a stay-at-home parent. You can’t dedicate all your time to practicing both an instrument and a craft.
We are limited by the hours in the day.
But we can have anything we want. We can have an impressive career or be a fantastic stay-at-home parent. We can master either the guitar or fine art oil painting. You can have anything. You just can’t have everything at the same time.
A critical step in achieving your top life goals is prioritizing them and focusing on the things most important to you.
Smaller SMART Goals
Now that you have your priorities set and know what to focus on, it’s time to turn your life goals into smaller SMART goals. Consider both the long-term goals and short-term goals you can undertake to achieve your ultimate goal in life.
For example, if one of your life goals is to own a home, break that down into achievable goals. Decide upon a time frame, and determine supporting goals you need to accomplish to turn your dream into a reality.
The supporting goals for buying a house may be to improve your credit score or save for a down payment.
Let’s say you set your time frame for ten years. For the supporting goal of saving for a down payment, you need to determine how much money to save in that time and break it down into monthly or yearly savings goals.
Your new SMART goal might be “Save $2000 yearly for the next ten years in my house down payment fund”. This goal is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based.
Your action plan records the steps you need to take to achieve your goals.
Now that you have your short-term SMART goals, you can decide what actions you need to take to complete them.
In the example above, you may want to set an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account. You may decide to pick up a side hustle to fill in any gaps.
The actionable tasks you need to take will depend greatly on your specific goal. Take time to plan out the critical things you need to do to achieve what you want out of life.
As we grow and change, so do our life goals. Your top goal at 20 may have been to have a family, but by the time you hit 25, you realized that’s not what you want.
It’s essential that you review your life goals at least every year and make sure you still want everything you are working for. You should also revisit your SMART goals and action plans to ensure you are on track to hit your targets.
Anything You Want in Life is Within Reach
Life goals don’t have to be far-fetched dreams that will never come true. You can have anything you want with a little focus and effort.
Make your life epic by deciding what you want most and focusing your energy on achieving those things. Pursue the things that matter most to you; even if you don’t accomplish everything on your list, you’ll have an epic life trying.
Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life.