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A goal for each part of your life: 13 types of goals that you need to set

July 14, 2022 - 16 min read

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What are goals?

3 types of goals based on results

3 types of goals based on time

7 types of goals based on areas of your life

What does it mean to make your goals SMART?

A final thought: What if you don’t set enough goals for your life?

There are so many types of goals you can set that it can make your head spin. Fitness goals, educational goals, career goals, and more. Some take a day to achieve, while others span years. Goal setting can be quite challenging since the world is constantly changing, and you can’t be sure what the future will bring.

But taking the time to plan your goals benefits your mental health and personal growth. Plus, it encourages you to be flexible and adapt when your situation changes. That is, there’s no benefit to digging your heels in the dirt and sticking with goals that no longer make sense.

Get an insight about what the different types of goals are, along with what it means to set smart and sustainable goals and what happens if we don’t set goals at all.

What are goals?

Goals are what you put your actions toward achieving. They can range in how much time is needed to accomplish them, but all goals require hard work. If you don’t do anything — or wait for someone else to do it — you won’t achieve your goals. It takes sustained effort, dedication, and resilience to make your goals successful. 

The various types of goal setting can be motivating. Setting a goal will help you learn new skills and see what you’re capable of. Plus, it keeps you moving in the direction of personal growth. Rather than stay focused on each individual day, your goals encourage you to examine the big picture and chart a future that’s meaningful and full of purpose.

Your goals don’t always stem from automatic thoughts, either. They take a lot more planning and detail than a simple impulse. Goals need to be thought out, with a clear plan in mind if things don’t go as you had hoped. You must be intentional with them. Even if they don’t seem like major goals, they’ll still impact your life.

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3 types of goals based on results

We all like to see our hard work pay off. 

Of course, the results of sustained effort and hard work can vary from person to person. That’s true for priorities, too. Some people want to see results faster than others, and some care more about the process than the results themselves. 

One aspect that results-driven goals have in common is prioritizing the experience of achieving them. That can be anything from what you learn to how you act. 

Let’s review three types of goals that are based on results:

1. Performance goals

Performance goals are also referred to as outcome goals because they hone in on how you act and, as the name suggests, perform. They’re the most common goal in this category as well. With performance goals, the key thing to remember is your stepping stones. 

That is, some of these goals may require other, smaller goals first. Through these sub-goals, you can develop the skills you need to perform the way you want. Skills include things like building self-confidence, communicating with others, and more.

Here are some examples of performance goals:


2. Learning goals

These goals are all about the new skills and abilities you learn and how you can use them moving forward. Learning goals open up new opportunities. At the end of the year, you can reflect on them and use them to help build your plans for the future. 

Learning goals make us think about productivity and the need to keep working toward developing new skills. People tend to set these goals to boost career development or when faced with a challenge to overcome.

Here are examples of learning goals:

3. Process goals

Process goals are different from the other two. With them, the results are less of a priority compared to the process of accomplishing the results. With process goals, you’re in control. You decide what areas of your life you want to spend time working on. 

But sometimes, these goals don’t make you as driven as the other options since you’re focusing more on the journey than the results.

Here are examples of process goals:

  • Completing inventory for your business
  • Writing your report for school
  • Applying to new jobs each day

Setting goals based on results requires plenty of sustained effort. Let BetterUp lend a hand. We can help you stay focused and accountable as you stick with your goals.

3 types of goals based on time

Time plays a huge factor in goal setting. Some specific goals that are more complex and demand more sustained effort will take longer than those that can be achieved with minimal effort. 

Flexibility is particularly important when it comes to goals based on timeSome of these goals require you to make a five-year plan, and within those five years, a lot can change. That’s why it’s so essential to be open to adapting your goals to make sure they’re realistic and beneficial.

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Here are  three different types of goals with varying timeframes:

1. Lifetime goals

Don’t expect to achieve these goals next week or even in the next couple of months. Lifetime goals are the type of goals that demand the most sustained effort and help you work toward your purpose. And that can take quite a while. 

To prepare for your life goals, try creating a vision board of where you want to see yourself in the future. Do you want to start a family? What’s your career like? How does your lifestyle treat your well-being? Life goals should align with your values and priorities.

2. Short-term goals

Don’t let the name fool you: Short-term goals aren’t always as brief as you think. Of course, they can take less time than lifetime goals, but still expect a couple of months or even a year before you achieve your short-term goal. To make these goals less daunting, break them down. Week by week, or month by month, you can set goals within your goals.

Some examples of short-term goals could be paying off your credit cards within a year or saving a certain percentage of each paycheck. 

3. Long-term goals

These goals don’t take as long as your life goals but still require years of hard work. To separate long-term goals from your life goals, set time limits. 

For example, you might want to become a doctor. That takes many years in school and plenty of effort. Plus, you’ll need to accomplish a series of long-term goals.

You’ll need to graduate college, apply to medical school, attend medical school, and match with a residency.  

You can even incorporate short-term goals within your long-term goals. Let’s say you want to set aside a specific amount of money for your retirement. In the time leading up to that, you can set monthly and yearly targets for how much money you save to help you with your long-term savings goal.

7 types of goals based on areas of your life

Many other areas in your life merit goals.  

Consider these seven aspects of your life and  how goal setting can fit in:

  1. Financial: Your financial goals could be short-term or long-term, depending on your needs and plan. Northwestern Mutual found that 71% of Americans say their financial planning needs work, which is important for achieving goals.
  2. Career: Your job right now could be a stepping stone toward a position that would inject more meaning into your life. Career goals help you plan for the future and work your way toward a job that makes you more fulfilled. If you’re starting your own business, or you hope to one day, set some business goals. 
  3. Physical: Taking care of your physical wellbeing allows you to reach other goals. Physical health goals help you maintain your health and improve your longevity. 
  4. Spiritual: By setting spiritual goals, you can feel connected to others. These goals can also help you stay true to your values, along with providing guidance and a sense of comfort.
  5. Well-being: Pay attention to your mental health and personal growth goals. These goals remind us to practice self-care and positive self-talk, which keeps our well-being healthy. 
  6. Education: Educational goals look different for everyone. Some people want to go to college, while others get their training and experience elsewhere. Through educational goals, you can learn new skills and expand your knowledge as your step into new roles.
  7. Volunteering: You can give back to your community in many ways. Whether it’s donating your money, time, or resources, everything helps. These goals can come from your values and passions, and they don’t have to involve your professional career.


What does it mean to make your goals SMART?

We’ve talked about how many types of goals there are in our lives and how long they can take. But we also need to discuss how to set goals that you can actually achieve. That’s where SMART goals come in. 

The SMART acronym stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This is a handy framework to clearly define goals. 

Why should you bother using the SMART framework? Because you’re more likely to achieve your goals and keep your motivation. If you have to adapt your goals to a changing situation, reflecting on this framework can help you do that so that you don’t slow down your progress. When you’re unsure about your journey or what actions you need to take, this framework can help you out. 

It’s important to take a moment with yourself and brainstorm your overall aim when setting SMART goals. Ensure that you’re taking the right amount of time to fill out the framework. Don’t feel rushed, but rather motivated and focused. Remember: this is all for your personal growth and goal journey, so preparing is key.


A final thought: What if you don’t set enough goals for your life?

How many types of goals have you set in your life so far? If you’re having a hard time reflecting on them, it might be a sign that you’re lagging when setting and achieving goals

Not setting enough goals can prevent you from living a more well-rounded, meaningful life. From spiritual to financial, there are many different areas of your life where you can set goals. Some can be small, while others can be big. But not setting any can hold you back from finding your dreams and purpose in life.

Goals also help us take care of ourselves. They’re a way of setting boundaries and limits in our environment to have a healthy mind and body. While you don’t need to go overboard, it’s important to remain active with the types of goals you set to put plans into motion to benefit yourself for years to come.

Goal setting is certainly something you don’t have to do alone. At BetterUp we can offer support to help you stay organized and focused as you set your goals and make sure you stay on track to achieve them.

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Published July 14, 2022

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

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