11 Different Types of Goals (Plus Tips on How To Achieve Them)

Hand writing the word "GOALS" on a notepad with a coffee on phone on the side over a wood plank table.

Setting goals is important if you want to achieve success. Without it. It’s like shooting an arrow in a blindfold. Goals help us focus on what we want and trains our mind to think of ways to measure our progress and finish what we set out to do.

Goals also pushes us to do better. A life without goals is like living with no direction.

Types of Goals

Business Goals

Scene of a business meeting with a female leader standing and gesticulating with a white board behind her and other employees looking up to her.

These are specifically for business-owners, and, even if you don’t own your own business yet, these tips can still be very helpful. It is never too soon to teach yourself to set business goals for yourself because you can both learn new things and improve your character once this is done. Financial goals and making money are of utmost importance when you’re running a business, but you need to think about other goals as well. Some of the main goals to consider when you’re just starting out are:

  • Try to choose something that is in alignment with your personal values.
  • Try to choose a very unique product or service, maybe one that isn’t currently on the market.
  • Try to find a business that will eventually allow you to spend more time with your family.

There are thousands of articles and books that teach you how to set business goals, and, regardless of the ones you choose to read, keep in mind that it is vital that you set these goals for yourself, regardless of how far away opening day is for you.

Career Goals

A businessman in a suit carrying a suitcase as he climbs up a figurative ladder blocks.

Even in today’s competitive work environment, there are still too many people who take a job, hope for the best, and then stick with the job long enough to be promoted, or at least not get fired. This is tragic, because career goals can be some of the most fulfilling goals to accomplish, and they can be utilized regardless of where you currently work.

In your career, you can start small by setting short-term goals that include increasing the number of sales you make or the number of new networking connections you made. Start small, but not too small. You’ll want to feel like you’ve accomplished something significant after it’s all said and done, so set and track your goals until you meet them. If, on the other hand, you want to set bigger goals, that’s all right, too. Just remember that a job is a marathon, not a sprint. In most cases, you can get at least some of what you want regardless of what that goal is. For example, if your goal is to double your salary within a year, that might not be possible. However, you can start by asking for a raise, which gets you one step closer to that goal.

When it comes to your career, you can also spend your evenings learning skills that will help you grow in your career or even ask a coworker to mentor you. In other words, bettering yourself is a great idea and is certain to help you accomplish some of the goals you’ve set for yourself, so never hesitate to take on these types of tasks.

Family Goals

A man leans on a wooden table as he looks straight ahead with sketches of family goals above the surface of the table.

These are very similar to your personal development goals, except that they are geared towards the entire family. In other words, these are specific goals that can help your family unit become stronger. If you have small children, you may want to set a date night once or twice a month with your spouse in an attempt to improve your relations so that in turn, you can be better parents. If your children are older, consider the goal of having a family game night once a week. It gives everyone the chance to get together and talk, laugh, discuss how their week is going, and just be together, and it works wonders for the family unit.

In addition, you can plan to volunteer at a community center or other volunteer center once a month as a family. Nothing makes kids appreciate what they have like serving lunch or dinner at a homeless shelter or reading to children in the hospital. It not only brings you closer together as a family, but it also allows your children to gain important life lessons that they will certainly never forget. If your kids are teenagers, you could consider having a family game night once a month instead of once a week because teenagers are very busy. The important thing is to schedule time together as a couple and as a family at least once a month, if not more frequently. If you stick to these goals, you’ll be surprised how much it will change your family.

Financial Goals

A smartphone, calculator, and a cup of coffee surrounds a notebook with a list of financial goals written on it.

Financial goals can cover numerous different areas. If you want to improve your daily spending habits or save more money for retirement, these are goals specifically related to finances. The best part is, you can set financial goals regardless of how much money you make or what your other goals are. In fact, if you succeed at your financial goals, you’ll likely succeed at other goals as well. Like other goals, if you set both short-term and long-term financial goals, you won’t feel so overwhelmed while striving to reach these goals.

Let’s say one of your personal development goals is to drink less alcohol because you want to improve your health. Once you do this, you’ll be spending less money on alcohol, and, as a result, you will be able to put more money in your pocket. This is a perfect example of accomplishing two goals at the same time, although both of them will benefit you greatly.

Other financial goals include paying off a certain debt; for instance, a student loan debt. If you get a part-time job to add to your income and cut corners whenever you can, you can achieve this goal quickly. There are other ways to get a little extra income each month, and all you have to do is research them online.

Intellectual Goals

A lit light bulb surrounded by crumpled white paper in a linear form on wooden desk.

An example of an intellectual goal is to take one night class a year or read one book per month for an entire year. These are goals which are easy to attain and “doable.” If you’re going to college, reading self-help books, taking a class online, or even learning how to operate a computer through a class at your local library, you are working on intellectual goals. No one knows everything, and there is no such thing as having too much knowledge in your head. Read books, take classes, do whatever you want to do to gain knowledge in any area of interest. The important thing is to keep yourself learning at all times because this can help you grow in all other areas of your life as well.

Long-Term Goals

A man encircles the words Long Term Goals surrounded by arrow drawings.

Long-term goals are goals for the future, usually a year or more down the road. They can be any type of goals, career, family, lifestyle, retirement, and so on, but they are achieved piece by piece as a person completes a certain stage of life. A few examples of long-term goals include getting a master’s degree, retiring at the age of 55, buying a house, or running a marathon. There are steps you need to take before you achieve these goals (go to school, train, work hard, and so on.), but setting these goals gives you something to shoot for. Long-term goals can be set for ten, twenty, or even forty years down the road, and they include two distinct types, which are described here.

  • Capstone goals. Capstone goals are important goals that you need to meet in order to accomplish your life goals. Typically accomplished in one to ten years, they can include goals such as going to medical school, completing an internship, saving a certain amount of money, and many others. In other words, think of them as stepping stones you need to take to reach your life goals.
  • Lifetime goals. Lifetime goals are major goals that you’d like to achieve over a lifetime. They are generally seen as goals to accomplish ten years or more down the road, and they can include goals such as becoming a professional basketball player, graduating from college, buying a house, or retiring to Florida. They can also involve any type of goal, from financial to family to just plain pleasure. You can even work on smaller goals while working on your lifetime goals at the same time. Lifetime goals are very important and meaningful, and you have to stay focused in order to achieve them, but they are not impossible to meet.

More details on the differences between long-term and short-term goals are found here.

Personal Development Goals

A young man thinks with his point finger on his lips while his personal plans are drawn above with a timeline arrow.

This is a very broad category, and it can include goals of personal growth or health, among others. Even if your personal development goal is to get married or have children, this is still a goal that is very possible to accomplish. A good thing to remember is that this category is a little different than the rest because it is personal. These goals should always center on things you’d like to do or who you’d like to become, not tasks related to your business or career. In other words, think of things you wish to accomplish outside of the office in your spare time, things that can be achieved without any extrinsic motivation.

One thing that’s exceptionally important with personal development goals is that you need to have them. Everyone should. Working on your career is never a bad thing, but you can’t forget to concentrate on yourself. If you have these goals, you can keep and maintain motivation and fulfillment outside of your job, even when things aren’t progressing like you think they should. In the end, personal development goals are always worth it.

Physical Goals

A man wearing a hoodie jacket doing a stretching outdoors.

Physical goals are goals that will get you in better shape physically, and they can include goals such as stretching five days a week, exercising three days a week, lifting weights three times a week, and many others. You can take a dance class, go to a spinning class, or jog a certain amount every day so that you can prepare for a 5K or even a marathon. They can also include other physical goals, such as meditating and doing deep-breathing exercises, doing calisthenics and other anaerobic exercises, and many others.

To be in shape physically, you need four types of exercise: stretching, aerobic (something for the cardiovascular system), strength-training, and exercise for balance and flexibility. You don’t have to do all of these at a fitness center, because there are DVDs and even exercise programs through a cable that allows you to do a lot of these programs in the comfort of your own home. Whatever your physical goals are, you can find a way to accomplish them easily either through a gym or in your home, and, if you’re looking for a good way to start, searching the Internet is a good starting point.

Short-Term Goals

The words "Short Term" spelled out in scrabble dices between pages of a red notebook.

Examples of short-term goals include build a deck, get a summer job, lose five pounds, and paint the living room. They can also be broken down into three different types, including:

  • Enabling goals: this is a specialized shorter-term goal, but it is written to help you accomplish a long-term goal. Consider enabling goals as stepping stones that can help you measure your progress towards reaching your long-term goals. Better yet, consider them “objectives” of your long-term goals.
  • Foundational goals: these are short-term goals that are meant to be accomplished in one year or less. They are often used as physiological improvements, including learning to play a certain number of songs on the piano, saving money for a home theater station, and qualifying for a spot on your school’s basketball team. They can also be enabling goals that need to be met before your capstone goals are reached.
  • Provisional goals: these range from stepping-stone goals to goals that are usually much larger. You can complete most of these within a month. These goals are worked on daily and can include goals such as, “get a 90 or above on my next math test.” They can even be something seemingly very simple, such as “finish a school project” or “clean the basement.”

Social Goals

A group of friends doing a high five as a sign of teamwork.

Social goals don’t mean just getting out there, being more social, and connecting to other people more often. It is a goal with a specific result in mind. For instance, there are two main types of social goals that people take advantage of these days. The first is volunteering your time, and the second is donating to the causes you are passionate about.

Volunteer opportunities are everywhere, and they can teach you valuable skills in addition to successful volunteering abilities. You can volunteer somewhere you feel passion for, including rescue or fire-fighting units, hospitals, nursing homes, facilities for children, the environment, and many others. You can volunteer once a week, once a month, or even less often, but each time you show up at the facility, you’ll experience a certain amount of pride, not to mention fulfillment. It is also a great way to combine other goals, such as career goals because you’re learning skills that you can utilize elsewhere, personal development goals because it allows you to grow as a human being in a lot of different ways, and even spiritual goals, provided it is a facility that is religious in nature.

Volunteers will always be needed, so if you need any type of social activity, this is a great place to start. Another way to interact with others socially is to donate to your favorite causes. Just like facilities that need volunteers, most non-profit organizations need volunteers on a regular basis, including social service, political, family-oriented, and even animal-rescue facilities. Nonprofits need both time and money, so if you don’t have enough time to volunteer, you can always consider making a financial donation. If you’re unsure where to start, ask yourself a few questions, such as:

  • Do you currently donate to charities? If so, how often and how much do you donate?
  • Do you currently do anything for your local community?
  • Do you feel like you are contributing enough to society, and if so, in what ways?
  • Do you have a good “sense of community”?
  • Do you volunteer at all? How much and how often?

If you want to develop social goals, these two areas are the perfect places to start, and any of these organizations can help you get your foot in the door.

More social goals can be found here.

Spiritual Goals

Back view of a man and a woman doing a meditation pose on the ground facing the sunset sky.

Setting spiritual goals doesn’t just mean going to church more often. Yes, if you are interested in increasing your church attendance, this is an excellent way to set spiritual goals, but it can mean other things as well. Do you feel nature is your “religion”? If so, spending regular time in the outdoors and studying earth-based religions might be just what you need. Even if you tell yourself that you’re going to go to church twice a month or spend time outdoors once a week, this is a great place to start. You can even keep a diary of your experiences because a diary works wonders for your psyche. Most experts believe that everyone has many different needs and that spiritual needs are a part of that. If your spiritual need is yearning to be free, but you don’t like organized religion, consider joining a bible study or some other activity in which you are interested. Most people believe in some sort of higher power, maybe more than one, so you owe it to yourself to explore that side of yourself because these are goals you’ll certainly never regret.

More detailed information on setting goals can be found at websites such as this.

Setting and Accomplishing Your Goals


SMART goals written on a notebook surrounded by light bulbs on wooden desk.

The SMART system of setting goals is one of the most famous ones, and it consists of five separate steps. Each of these steps is important if you want to be successful at meeting your goals, and they include these five specifications, which spell out the word SMART:

  • Specific. This is something that causes many people to fail at achieving their goals because they tend to be very vague when writing down their goals. Be as specific as possible with both short- and long-term goals. Try to answer the six “W” questions, which include who is involved, where the location will be, what you want to accomplish, when you want your goal to be completed, which requirements and constraints might stop you, and why you are setting this goal in the first place.
  • Measurable. Goals have to be measurable, which is why “get my degree” is never as good as “get my degree in the next four years,” and “lose 10 pounds” is better when worded as “lose 10 pounds by Christmas.” If you don’t meet the goal, pick yourself up and go at it again, but at least you’ll have a measurable goal to get started.
  • Achievable. This one is similar to the fourth step, realistic, and it includes ways to develop the abilities, skills, attitudes, and financial capability to achieve your goal one day. If you’re determined enough, you can likely accomplish any goal you set for yourself, but if the goal is not attainable, or if you are unable to do it within a specific time frame, you may want to forget about it and move onto another goal that is more attainable.
  • Relevant (Realistic). Consider this area seriously. If you’re a high-school dropout and have a goal that you’re going to be a millionaire by the time you are 30 years old, those chances are very slim. You should be aggressive while setting your goals, but also realistic. If your goal is realistic, it will represent a goal that you are both willing and able to work at; otherwise, your chances of success are even slimmer. Go for your dreams, but be willing to accept that there are things that you will likely never be able to do.
  • Time-Bound. Always set a timeframe for your goals, always. Don’t say you want to get your degree “someday,” say you want to get your degree within the next five years. Without a specific time frame, you are more susceptible to procrastination, which means it is likely you’ll never accomplish your goal. Set a specific activity and a specific timeframe, and your goals are much more likely to be met or exceeded.

Take a look at other information regarding the various types of goals, which can be found here.

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