personal growth goals
Personal Development

How to Set Personal Growth Goals That Actually Work

Goals are what make life meaningful at least according to me. If you have no vision for your life, where are you going? Having goals gives you motivation and helps you discover your purpose. In addition, goals help you to focus. In this post, I want to focus on a specific category of goals; the personal growth goals. I have also provided free worksheets at the end of this post.

This post builds on the trick to setting goals and accomplishing them. In that post, I discussed the importance of setting goals and the types of goals. I have always believed in setting goals and I have observed a common trait if you want to achieve your goals. This post expounds more into the process of setting goals while applying the trick discussed in the earlier post.

You control your future, your destiny. What you think about comes about. By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own.

Mark Victor Hansen

What are personal growth goals?

Most people refer to these type of goals as personal development goals. Whichever term you prefer, they both refer to the same thing. Personal growth goals are goals you set for yourself that concern you and only you. When setting my personal goals, I tend to fully focus on myself. I do not think about my friends, family, money or career. For me, that is what I truly consider a personal growth goal.

By focusing on myself, I find that I set goals that propel me. I avoid falling into the trap of materialism and also helps me not to associate my personal growth process with money or anything material. This puts me in a space where I think of who I want to be regardless of my finances, career and social life.

It can be a tough place to put yourself because naturally, you tend to think of making more money, growing your career, having a stable relationship, etc. It is hard and rare to sit and ask yourself about you. Therefore, if you struggle to think of your personal goals, I advise that you set goals for your career, social life, relationship, and finances first then complete with personal growth goals. I explain more on how to set the goals below.

personal development goals
Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Pexels

Why do you need personal growth goals?

Antony Robbins talks of personal growth goals as the foundation for every achievement in your life. This statement bears a lot of truth. If you become a better person, the other parts of your life will begin to blossom. For example, if you choose to become more confident then you may stumble upon more job opportunities, your career will thrive and in the process make more income. In addition, your social life and relationships will become a success because you now believe in yourself.

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.

Tony Robbins

That is what personal growth goals do for us. They open up more opportunities for us and help us to thrive in life. Personal growth goals help us to:

1. Find purpose

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

George Bernard Shaw

As you set your personal goals, you are defining the person who you would like to be. You are attaching a purpose to your life and choosing to live life intentionally. With time, you will begin to realize what you love doing, what makes you happy and get to truly know what your purpose is. When you set goals, you stop letting the world determine who you are and start showing the world how it should define you.

Write your script of life, do not give anybody a chance to do it for you. Don’t forget however, to ask God to help you write that script.

2. Find a sense of direction

Your goals are the road maps that guide you and show you what is possible for your life.

Les Brown

How boring would a soccer game be without goal posts? The goal posts help the players know in which direction to kick the ball. The same case applies to our lives. When we set personal growth goals, we know where our life is headed. If you come across a challenge, you know what you need to do because you know what will draw you closer to your goal. For example, you are able to overcome failure because you know giving up will not draw you closer to your goal.

3. Find a source of motivation

Goals give us purpose, which, in turn, motivates us to make ourselves the best version in all aspects of your life.

Hannah Bronfman

Life can be all sort of things except a straight line. If it were straight, I think we would all be successful. Sometimes, we wake up tired and not ready to do anything. You need that inner voice that tells you how important it is to do whatever you had planned. Whenever I remember the person who I long to be, I feel motivated and empowered. This always works to give me energy on the days I feel low.

4. Focus

Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.

Napoleon Hill

Recently, I discovered the power of focus. I practically used to work on a million things at the same time and ended up being very frustrated and tired. So I sat down and decided that I will work on one thing at a time, build on it until I am able to work on something else. That is what led me to set personal growth goals because with that, I knew what I wanted and what to focus on.

Now, I am more fulfilled and satisfied with myself. With goals I am able to see progress in a particular area of my life and appreciate myself.  

5. Find happiness

If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.

Albert Einstein

Without goals, I was a frustrated person looking to make my life better but with no clear path. One day, I want to do this, the next day I am interested in something else and so forth. This took my happiness away because there was no particular day I was happy for accomplishing something.

After I set my personal goals, I was able to appreciate my little efforts and that made me so happy. I can now appreciate my life more because I know where I am going. When you dream and think about your dreams, you begin the process of attracting them to become a reality. When I pause and think of the person I will be, I just feel happy to know that I can become that person.

personal growth goals bring happiness

Stop setting goals. Goals are pure fantasy unless you have a specific plan to achieve them.

Stephen Covey

Setting personal growth goals.

I came across this concept of setting personal growth goals as I was reading a book. I decided to give it a try and I loved it. Because of the benefits and joy I got from the process, I thought I would share it with you.


I tend to lack patience sometimes and that can limit me from success. At the same time, I easily get discouraged when my goals are too huge. Now, I know I am definitely not alone in this area. Owing to that, I decided that I would work with annual goals. I did away with 10-year or 5-year goals and focused on what I hope to achieve one year from now. We often underestimate the power of 365 days! For the one year, I chose only 5 goals that I would work on. That leaves me with 72 days for each goal which is almost two and a half months. That’s a really long time to work on just one thing.

The actual goal

What is interesting about personal growth goals is that they lead to the formation of habits that contribute to making your life better. Referring to the prior example of being more confident, you realize that you need to start a habit of affirming to yourself that you are confident. This is a habit you will carry along for some time and become better at it or even find better ways of doing it.

Therefore, be aware that personal growth goals make up habits in your life, some permanent, others can be improved. By practicing these habits a lot, they become a part of you and you won’t realize it when you do them, just like the way you do not think about taking a shower.

You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence is therefore not an act, it is a habit.

The questions I like to ask myself when I set my personal goals are:

  1. What new skill do I want to learn?
  2. What can help me know myself better and become happier?
  3. What character trait would I want to acquire?
  4. What can I do to enhance one of my strengths?
  5. What can I do to work on one of my weaknesses?

Those 5 questions help me come up with my annual personal growth goals. At the end of this post, you will get the template I use for my personal growth goals and a sample that has examples of personal growth goals filled in.

Limitless imagination

I would encourage you to set really high goals. Set goals that, when you set them, you think they’re impossible. But then every day you can work towards them, and anything is possible, so keep working hard and follow your dreams.

Katie Ledecky

Setting goals is always fun for me because I can imagine anything. I try my best not to limit myself as much as I try to be realistic. With personal goals, you can be anything you dream of being. Always remember however that these are goals you wish to accomplish in one year. Reduce materialism as much as possible. Money does not play a major role in these goals.

Stating the goal

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

Henry David

From the questions given above, let’s assume the new skill I want to learn is to swim. I will state that as: “I will learn basic swimming by June 2020”. When you state the exact time, it gives you peace of mind not to rush yourself.

Under the goal, I state what I will gain by accomplishing the goal. The ‘what’ always plays an important role in achieving the goal. In this case my ‘what’ would be: “I can swim without fear of drowning, I can swim as a way to lose weight, I can now gladly go swimming with my friends” Try and have at least 3 compelling what’s because when you look at that goal you always need to remember why you set it in the first place.

After you set the 5 goals, describe the person who you will be when you accomplish those goals. Remember to include how you will feel when you are that person and include a reward as well. In the template at the end of the post, there is an example given.

break down personal growth goals

Breaking down the goal

After I have my annual personal growth goals set out, I make an effort at the beginning of every month to set smaller goals from the annual goals. I try to work on a small aspect of each goal each month. Don’t worry if you cannot fit all of them in a month. The trick is to make it very small.

In the case of swimming, in the first month, I would probably research how I will learn how to swim. It could be watching videos and going to practice during the weekend or signing up for a class. The goal will be to find what suits me and commit to it. For each monthly goal make sure there is an outcome that leads you to the next step in accomplishing your goal. The smaller you make it, the easier it will be.

Forming the habit

As I mentioned earlier, personal growth goals may involve a lot of habits. In the 5 breathtaking personal growth TED Talks, there is a video that specifically deals with forming habits. Fogg (the speaker) gives a reliable and interesting way to form habits. That is, using the formula “After I (fill in an existing habit e.g. comb my hair), I will (fill in with new habit you want to form e.g. say that I am confident)”

This works extremely well. Because I believe in spreading love, I have also included a monthly personal goals planner at the end of the post where you write your personal goals for that month and write the action you need to take for that goal to become a reality. There is also a habit tracker where you write at least one tiny habit (as Fogg says it) that you will begin in regard to a particular goal. Try the habit for at least three days before you can take on another habit.  


At the end of every month, check to see what you have accomplished and what you have not YET accomplished. I have used YET because even if you haven’t you still have the next month to make an effort. As for what you have accomplished, treat yourself to something good. And, for that you have not yet done, plan it for the next month together with the other goals for a new month.

setting personal growth goals
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A little secret I use is to break down the monthly goals into weekly goals and the weekly goals further into daily goals. If you do this, you will discover that in a week you can only handle one or two goals. As for the daily goal, I write in my to-do list and happily cross it when I am done. I like to get very specific with my daily goals. I put the amount of time I needed so that I do not get carried away. For example, if I have to repeat affirmations, I indicate that I will do that for not more than one minute. This helps to manage my time better.


What a long post this is. I wanted to list every detail so that you too may enjoy the process. To access all the materials that I have stated in the post, please subscribe to the newsletter below and you will receive an access code that you will use to access the Free Goodies section and download all of them. The items included (all in pdf):

  1. A sample filled in personal growth goals planner (both annual and monthly)
  2. An annual goal planner
  3. A monthly goal planner
  4. A habit tracker

I hope you have enjoyed the post. If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will be happy to get back to you. Otherwise, I wish you all the best as you set your personal growth goals. You don’t have to wait for a new year to do this.

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Reina Janet is a young talented writer and the founder of El Mieles. She believes in making the world the best place for you by inspiring you with her creative writing and personal stories that help you to love life and also solve day to day challenges. Get to know her more.

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