Andrew Carnegie once said, “If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.” That’s a lot of benefits from simply setting a goal. But sometimes it’s hard to know what the best goals in life are that will inspire you like this.
Some of the best goals in life include running a marathon, getting into your dream career, finding a companion, and more. If you want to find which ones are right for you, I’ve made a list of my top 16 best life goals to help inspire you.
I’ve divided it up into four categories to make it easier for you to jump around to whichever aspect of life you’d like to focus on:
- Family & Friends
- Finances & Education
Within each life goal, I’ve identified why it’s a good one to have and also how I’d work toward accomplishing it myself. I’ll include how I’ll break it down into milestones and what action steps I’d consider taking to reach each one.
Let’s dive right into these examples so you can set some goals and be happy, focused, energized, and inspired just like Carnegie taught!
Family & Friends: Social Goals in Life
1. Find great friends that care about you and help you reach your full potential
“You’re the average of the five people spend the most time with.”
– Jim Rohn
Why it’s a great life goal: “According to research by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, [the people you habitually associate with] determine as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.”
How to accomplish it: The milestones for all relationship goals are tough because it’s hard to measure connection with others. But a good one to shoot for here is how many new people you meet each week.
For action steps to get there, I’d try to attend more social events that the kind of people I want to have as my new friends would be at.
As you begin to meet new people each week consistently, you’d want to refine your next milestone to be narrowing down a group that you want to become part of. And remember, you get friends easiest by being a friend!
2. Become patient with others’ faults and weaknesses
“One minute of patience, ten years of peace.”
– Greek Proverb
Why it’s a great life goal: If you want to live life to the fullest, you’ve got to connect with others on the deepest level possible. But while relationships can be the source of our greatest joys, they can also bring a lot of difficulties. Learning to be patient with others is one of the surest ways to keep your relationships healthy no matter what kind.
How to accomplish it: This one is also a little more abstract, so it is harder to measure, but it’s important to try anyway. For milestones, I would look to see how my patience is growing over a month or a quarter. I might consider setting up a quiz or rating system to see how I improve.
Actions steps for this goal would include learning about patience as well as finding and practicing a patience meditation daily.
3. Get married
“[Your spouse’s] input will improve your output.”
– Russell M. Nelson
Why it’s a great life goal: As I mentioned in the last example, connection to others will bring the highest rewards in life. Marriage might not be easy all the time, but it can make many things far easier than they are otherwise. When I got married, all of my flaws surfaced, showing me exactly what to work on to become a better person. My financial situation improved, as did my happiness. Research shows that, among the many other benefits, being married also makes you healthier.
How to accomplish it: The milestones here would be nearly identical to the goal to find a new friend group, which was to measure how many new people you meet each week. Each one increases the chances you’ll find “the one.”
For action steps, I’d recommend going to the right social events. Think of the kind of person you want to marry then consider where they might hang out. I would also spend a little time each week working on improving yourself because the best way to find a good marriage partner is to become one first.
I know that these milestones and action steps work because this is how I found my wife!
4. Become best friends with each of your kids
“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
Why it’s a great life goal: This is something that I’ve seen my mother-in-law do well with my wife and her siblings. Seeing the joy they have because they are best friends makes me want that too.
They spend a ton of time together and genuinely enjoy it. Speaking again of the power of deep connections with others, I think this is one area of life that has a lot more potential for providing happiness than others.
How to accomplish it: I’m working on this personally, and I’ve found that the easiest way to do it is first to write down everything you enjoy doing. Then write all the activities your kids like doing, one page for each child. Next, go one by one through each kid’s list and circle which activities were also on your list.
Then, plan an outing with them doing that thing at least once a month to start. As you improve at pushing less important tasks off your schedule for quality time with your kids, change the frequency to weekly. This takes care of your action steps.
For my milestones for this goal, I have a review each week in which I ask myself how I became closer to my kids that week. I give myself time to reflect and be honest with myself about how my relationship with them has improved not just in the last week but over time.
Financial, Education, and Career Goals in Life
5. Graduate from college or get a master’s degree
“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Why it’s a great life goal: There’s a lot of information out there on why college is inefficient, but the truth is life and money are a whole lot easier to manage when you’ve got that diploma. I know because I just finished my master’s degree a few weeks ago!
I’m going to throw in a bonus here and say that if you hate the idea of this, at least get a bachelor’s degree then learn as much as you can from online courses. I’ve been studying through them myself even though I just finished school, and they’re about to help me double my income!
How to accomplish it: You don’t need to go into crazy amounts of debt to go to a fancy school, just find the cheapest option and get it done. In many cases, this will be a local university because they offer in-state tuition discounts.
As a side note and tip, getting married and keeping your earnings and expenses low while you’re going to school makes it way easier. I still had two years left when I got married, the financial benefits were enough that they were completely free, including books!
The nice thing about college is that once you apply, get in, and start, the action steps and milestones are built into it so you don’t have to make them up yourself!
6. Find your dream career and get a job in it
“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there’s love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”
– Ella Fitzgerald
Why it’s a great life goal: So many people work in jobs they hate only because they’re afraid of admitting they’re miserable and going to find a new one. Can you imagine if you woke up every day excited to go to work? If you were doing something that you actually felt passionate about?
Another major benefit of this life goal is that it makes you more productive, which can make you more money.
How to accomplish it: I’ve done it and let me assure you, it’s not as difficult as you might think! Especially with everything that you can do with the internet these days.
Start by exploring what you like and don’t like. My personal favorite exercise, which actually made me cry once it was so profound, came from Pat Flynn. It’s called the History Test and is way more exciting than your high school history class.
List out all of the jobs, positions, and volunteer work that you’ve ever done. I’ve had over 16 different jobs in my life so I had to narrow mine down. Anyway, after you’ve got those you’ll journal about the following:
- What was it?
- When did you do it?
- What did you like about it?
- Write your favorite experiences from it.
- What did you not like about it?
- Give it a grade from A to F
The first time I did this it hit me that none of my favorite jobs involved what I was doing at the time. It was a huge mismatch and the reason I was so miserable.
Once you have that explore how you might get into the field. You could job shadow people that do that thing, for example. If it’s something that can be done online you can always start a blog about it and make money with that!
After I took the History Test I realized that I loved teaching. I had a lot of opportunities to write at the time so I took advantage of those and before long I was making more writing than I was with my previous career!
7. Develop a habit of reading 25 books every year
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Seuss
Why it’s a great life goal: Oh I love this one so much. Of all the people I know, those with the greatest minds are always the ones that read a lot. If you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with as Jim Rohn says, books let you pick almost anybody, even famous people, to be your top five people! Reading makes you smarter, more empathetic, and has a ton of other physical and mental benefits.
How to accomplish it: The milestone for this one is easy. Just take 25 and divide it by the number of weeks in the year, which is 52, to get about a half a book a week, or one book every two weeks. You can modify this for any number of books you want to read, too!
The action steps for this one are reading, of course, but building that into a habit isn’t always easy. Start by setting aside a time each day that you’ll read and not scheduling anything over it. Make it easy to begin reading by leaving a bookmark in whatever you’re currently reading and keeping the book itself in the spot that you usually read in.
8. Make enough money that you can travel the world
“Rich people believe ‘I create my life.’ Poor people believe ‘Life happens to me’.”
– T. Harv Eker
Why it’s a great life goal: I’ve been trying to make more money recently even though I used to think the idea of being rich was icky. The number one benefit I’ve seen from working toward this goal is that it’s changed me into a better person. When I started looking into ways to earn more I was terrified the opposite would happen.
But the reality is that it’s made me manage my time more wisely, look for opportunities all over the place, and fueled my desire to learn like nothing I’ve ever done.
The travel the world part is pretty great too and the benefits of it are really self-explanatory!
How to accomplish it: The first thing I did was read a whole bunch of books on money to get my mindset right. A lot of us have this misguided idea that wanting to make more money is evil but it’s not. At least, as long as we want to do the right things with it. It’s wrong to exploit others just to get rich and live overly lavish lives. But don’t let that stop you from letting yourself earn more so you can have a little more of the things you enjoy!
The next step is to start looking for opportunities in the right places. A raise or promotion is nice and might be a good quick win for you. Getting a better job might get you there as well. But in the end, these things only make you busier, which makes it more difficult to find balance and enjoy the opportunities your extra earnings give you.
This is why I’m such a big fan of starting online businesses. It used to be that you had to get funding and go through all these other hoops to start a company but that’s not true anymore. You can start a company of one and make hundreds of thousands just with a simple website and a lot of hard work. Anybody can do that but most people simply won’t, which is what makes this such a great opportunity.
Fitness Goals in Life
9. Run a 10k, half marathon, or marathon
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”
– Jim Rohn
Why it’s a great life goal: Let me preface this by saying that this goal is not for everybody! Don’t feel like you have to do this to be an accomplished person. That goes for all the goals in life on this list.
If you hate running, find something that you do enjoy for exercise and do it. That might be hiking, biking, swimming, or any number of things.
The benefits of exercise are almost unending. It improves your mood, energy, sleep, relationships, intelligence, and a lot of other things.
How to accomplish it: Let’s take the 10k as an example. Pick a date that you want to do the race. It’s best to find and sign up for a real race to participate in. Once you have the date in mind, work backward and make a training plan for yourself. Milestones would include running different distances. Action steps are simply going running each day and maybe doing some cross-training as well.
I’ve run three half marathons and one full and they’re a lot of fun. Above all, just enjoy taking care of your body!
10. Develop a healthy relationship with food
“I wish we could treat our bodies as the place we live from, rather than regard it as a place to be worked on, as though it were a disagreeable old kitchen in need of renovation and update.”
– Susie Orbach
Why it’s a great life goal: Although a little more abstract this will solve a lot of the problems with weight and health that people have. Food has had a bad name in the last few years but there’s no reason we aren’t meant to enjoy it. When you focus on that it becomes easier to recognize that you feel disgusting after eating at McDonald’s and how having a nice, full salad actually feels and tastes pretty amazing.
From there, weight loss and continued health seem almost inevitable. I really believe that working toward a healthy relationship with food is hacking at the root of all your health problems.
How to accomplish it: Similar to others I’ve mentioned here, I’d recommend setting up a weekly time to review how you’re doing. Make a list of questions to ask yourself to help you reflect on your progress. You might include questions like “how did I do at recognizing how food made me feel?” or “did I savor my food as I ate it?”
For action steps to accomplish this goal, I would start with reading books on the subject. You might explore a few, but I’d recommend Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss or Brain Powered Weight Loss by Eliza Kingsford. The information that diet experts have should help you set some more long-term daily and weekly action steps.
11. Get great sleep every night
“The minute anyone’s getting anxious I say, ‘You must eat and you must sleep.’ They’re the two vital elements for a healthy life.”
– Francesca Annis
Why it’s a great life goal: It’s impossible to overstate the benefits of sleep. It helps your brain remove toxins, reduces the chances of dying from disease, makes you more productive, and much more. Many people think that getting less sleep is a badge of honor. But the reality is, those who are the smartest know that a good night’s rest is the reason for their success.
How to accomplish it: First, identify where your problems with sleep start. Do you struggle with getting enough? Or is the rest you get inefficient? Whatever it is, begin there and research ways to improve it.
If I were trying to go to bed earlier, for example, I might consider shutting off the internet in my home after a certain hour. For better quality sleep, make sure that your room is as dark as possible and cool, don’t use devices or watch TV in bed, and have some plants in your bedroom.
12. Get and stay mentally healthy
“There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.”
– John Green
Why it’s a great life goal: Many people struggle with mental illness these days. I’ve been there myself. It’s not fun to deal with these issues, but don’t be too hard on yourself about it. With help, you can heal and start living a better life.
I feel like the greatest benefit for me in overcoming my mental illness is the freedom it gives me. Before I got some help I’d often have days that I couldn’t control the sadness or lethargy. Although I still get down sometimes now, it’s not nearly as often and I’m much freer to accomplish whatever I want. And, more importantly, it allows me the emotional strength to grow closer to my family.
How to accomplish it: The first thing I’m going to recommend here is that you see a doctor. I promise that it’s not as scary as you might think. I’ve done it myself, so I know how hard it can feel at first. But if you push past that initial resistance you’ll find that help is readily available and is a lot easier to get than you might think.
I’ve also had just a few therapy sessions and would have gone to more if it weren’t for my case of depression being pretty mild comparatively. In those few meetings with the therapist, though I learned a profound potential path out of mental illness.
Start by getting on meds to get you back to a more normal emotional state. Give yourself time to adjust to them and change prescriptions if needed. Once you’re ready, start building the four keystone habits of beating mental illness:
If you want to learn how these work, read this article.
Fun Goals in Life
13. Go on a weekend getaway every month
“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.”
– Anatole France
Why it’s a great life goal: Travel is good for the soul. Those that get to do it often know how true this is. We try to do this as much as we can and we all love the break from our world that it gives us.
One of my favorite benefits of traveling is that it gives me the chance to focus on my kids without the distraction of work. This is especially useful these days when many of us are working from home and that potential distraction from family is always there. Getting to focus on them makes their lives better and mine.
It’s also helpful for creativity, happiness, and many other aspects of life as well. Not to mention it’s fun!
How to accomplish it: This is more of a financial goal, really. Refer back to the income-increasing goal in number 8 to see how to make this one happen!
Another piece of advice here is to plan it out. We have a list of our favorite places to go and when it comes time to plan the year and figure out where we want to go we just choose from that for each month to make it easier. You can also plan months for new places then add those to your list if you like them!
14. Make time for that hobby you’ve always been interested in but never started
“To be really happy and really safe, one ought to have at least two or three hobbies, and they must all be real.”
– Winston Churchill
Why it’s a great life goal: Winston Churchill had a heavy load to bear while leading Great Britain during World War II. To make matters worse, he struggled with mental illness. But did you know that he loved to paint and used that as an outlet for the mental burden he was carrying? Who knows, if it weren’t for this man letting himself explore hobbies the outcome of World War II could have been much different!
Hobbies are a lot of fun and making time for them has a lot of benefits. Too often we let life get in the way of them though and we never get to have the fun and enjoyment they can bring. Making time for them, on the other hand, will bring a welcome respite from your work and can even make you more productive.
How to accomplish it: Carve out some time in your week for exploring your interests. It can be as little as half an hour or as long as a whole day or more. Making time isn’t always easier but looking in the right places for extra hours can help. Try waking up a little earlier on the weekends or staying up later if that’s your thing. There might even be things on your schedule that you can remove entirely!
I love the work that I do so my hobbies and business ventures are often one and the same, but I still leave time to have fun with fun new projects each week!
15. Take a big trip halfway across the world
“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”
– Ray Bradbury
Why it’s a great life goal: Research has recently identified that when you buy experiences you end up happier than if you purchase stuff. Who doesn’t want to be happier?
The thing I’ve loved about travel is how it always changes my perspective. Last year my wife and I took a trip to Spain and I loved the different view I had on the world after coming home. It was also fun to meet awesome new people and see old friends. Seeing the way that other people live is eye-opening and I believe it makes you a better person.
How to accomplish it: Start by researching places you want to go. Once you start it will be hard to settle on a place but you’ve got your whole life to decide where you want to go! Don’t let indecision stop you from amazing experiences.
After you’ve picked one, research it thoroughly to find out how much it will cost. Make a rough draft of your itinerary then look at what it will require financially.
Once you have that number in mind, pick a date that you want to go and work backward to see how much you need to save each month to get there. If it’s $5,000, for example, and you want to go in a year, that’s a little over $400 a month. Find whatever works best for your current financial situation, but try to make more money to make it happen sooner!
16. Move to a different country
“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”
– Anita Desai
Why it’s a great life goal: In 2008 I took my first plane ride to Manchester, England. For the next 24 months, I was a missionary there. I got to live in Shrewsbury, the Isle of Man, Rochdale, Liverpool, and Preston. The experiences I had in those two years changed my life forever. My favorite part of all was the wonderful people that I got to meet and how they improved my outlook on life in so many ways.
Travel changes you, but long-term travel changes you deeply.
How to accomplish it: This will take a lot of planning and hard work but it will pay off in the end. We’ve looked into this and here’s how I’d do it:
- Create criteria for your search for a place to live and use it to find your ideal location. We have kids so finding somewhere safe is a must, for example.
- Search the internet for prices of rent, food, and transportation in that place. You might have to do this as part of your search before you settle on one spot. Make a spreadsheet to record everything you find and come up with a rough estimate of the cost of living per month.
- Make sure that you can handle the cost of living by examining your own finances. You can only do this if your ability to earn income doesn’t depend on where you live, so keep that in mind.
- Plan how long you want to stay there. We’d probably go live somewhere like Hawaii for just three to six months, for example. Although we might extend that once we’re there if we feel like it.
- Get rid of or store all your stuff.
Which of These Goals in Life Will You Go For?
Setting goals can inspire you to do incredible things with your life. Sometimes, however, it’s difficult to know what aspirations are the best to shoot for.
I hope these tips have given you some ideas for your own goals in life so that you can get as inspired just like I have been by setting and accomplishing many of these myself!