Looking for a list of personal goals examples for students?
Life’s about more than getting to class on time and getting good grades. There’s so much more to college than long-term academic goals!
In college, we easily fall into the tunnel vision trap and forget that we need to set long term goals for all areas of our lives, not just our schoolwork.
Because we fail as students to set personal goals in fitness, finances, or relationships, for example, we are bound to feel lost and defeated in what we want to accomplish in life post-graduate.
After college, there is a lack of 20-somethings taking positive, actionable steps in their lives because they are unable to set constructive personal goals. If we don’t set personal goals in college, we will follow the motions and forget to set real, tangible, SMART goals after college too.
But don’t worry, I’m right there with you!
After college, I realized that I wasn’t accomplishing much in life and that was because I was lacking in long-term, good personal goals. My whole life I had been chasing one goal – to graduate college.
But now that I had graduated from college, what was next? Was the quarter-life crisis that I was facing going to keep me down in the dumps forever?
As I sat in my new apartment with my college degree stuffed in an unpacked bag, I dug out a notebook and a pen. I started to brainstorm what I wanted my life to look like in five, 10, and 20 years. Sitting there, I asked myself, “What personal goals do I want to set in my life, now that my main goal of graduating college is behind me?”
I knew that I needed to set some challenging and motivating long-term goals. When I woke up each and every day, I wanted to work towards them to live an increasingly better life.
I wanted to accomplish my long-term goals post-college and I knew the first step was setting them.
But that’s where you are already ahead of the game, as a college student. You see, you can take the personal goals you had as a student and begin applying them today to avoid the paralyzing question of “What do I do next?!” that I felt on my college graduation day.
Here’s how to set goals for your personal life, plus a list of 11 long term goal ideas for college students, beyond academic goals.
How To Write Long Terms Goals in College
That day in my apartment when I brain dumped on a piece of paper what I wanted my life to look like, I didn’t have a system to follow. Today, I think I have mastered the best way to set a personal goal.
The problem most students face when setting long-term goals is that they are unable to make them realistic. Our culture promises immediate satisfaction and “get rich quick” mentalities all of the time through various media outlets.
Not only do we want things now, but entitlement may be the biggest burden to students these days. We believe that we deserve our personal goals to come true without hard work and discipline.
Step 1: Your Personal Goals Need a “Why”
My system for writing long term goals for college students listed below begins with establishing your “why.” Your why is the heartbeat behind your personal goals, and without a why, your goals are sure to fail.
Your why is the reason you are setting the goal in the first place.
When things get hard, it will be the thing you turn to, to keep you going and pushing you towards that goal. The key with your why is that it has to be something very deep and personal to you, one that you are extremely passionate about, or have a deep desire for.
After you have established your why, start with a dream. I think of the big goal I want to accomplish. For example, let’s say your dream is to become the CEO of a large environmental company one day. Your why behind it might be so that you can make a difference in the world by making the planet a better place to live.
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Step #2: Break Big Goals Down Into Smaller Steps
I then break that down into a realistic approach by coming up with baby steps on how to get there.
Remember we’re talking about long term goals for college students, to set while in school but pursue well into your 20s.
For example, if you are going to be CEO one day, then you need to start at the bottom of the company and work your way up. That may mean first begin an intern, then office assistant, then manager, etc.
Step #3: Predict Possible Challenges
Next, think about the things that are going to throw you off your game.
Perhaps, you don’t earn the promotion you were hoping to earn, or the company lays you off. I like to not only consider worst-case scenarios, but also realistic ones that you will likely face.
It isn’t going to be a straight line to achieving these long term goals for college students. You will face challenges, like motivation killers and limiting beliefs.
Step #4: Make Your Personal Goal SMART
Lastly, make sure it is a SMART goal.
A SMART goal is one that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Let’s face it, most people won’t be the CEO of a company one day.
Is this a realistic goal for you?
Can you also make it more specific and measurable?
I often had a hard time making the big dream SMART, and it seems to take a long time to get there. So I decided to make my baby steps SMART goals.
Start Setting Long Terms Goals in Life Today
In summary, here is exactly how I write my long-term, personal goals. As a student, you should start implementing them as soon as you can:
- Have a why,
- Think of the big dream,
- Come up with the baby steps to get to your dream,
- Imagine the barriers and setbacks that will come your way, and
- Make it a SMART goal (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) or keep the baby steps SMART.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: SMART Goals for College Students
The Best Long Term Goals Ideas for College Students
Here are the top 11 long term goals for college students. If you begin implementing these personal goals as a student, they will help you transfer them over into your life post-college and set you up for success.
Pick one of the long term goals from the list of goals for students below and use the steps above, and write personal goals that will crush transferring into actionable steps. Don’t forget to get your SMART goals worksheet too!
Congrats, you’re already way ahead of the game!
#11. Focus on Self-Improvement
This is one of my favorite long term goals to talk about when it comes to these examples for students. Ask yourself, “What do I want to become better at?”
For me, I love to research and find out new information that I didn’t know before. One area that I always set a personal goal for is self-improvement.
Sometimes, it means learning more about how my car works so that I can fix it when it breaks down. Other times, it means I study another culture so I can relate better to a coworker. Perhaps, there’s a new hobby idea you want to master.
So, what are you curious about? What skills do you want to approve? The answer to these questions is the perfect long-term goal for college students.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: 22 Ways to Be Your Best Self
What do you want to learn about?
Is there something you love spending time doing?
What have you been curious about? What’s your superpower and your strengths?
Start thinking about your own self-growth. A great place to start is by reading some of the best personal development books.
#10. Get Organized
If you are a naturally neat person and organization comes easy to you, then find an area you can improve in. For me, it tends to be cleaning. I put off cleaning super easily and tend to procrastinate.
On the other hand, if you are naturally a messy person, then set a personal goal that will help you change your habits.
How can you get organized?
Do you need to tidy up your home or life?
One example could be: I will organize my bedroom closet every Tuesday night for 30 minutes and keep a running tally. This is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.
#9. Start Eating Healthier
Healthy living is something extremely important to me, and I hope it is to you. The diet decisions you make now as a student will carry on into adulthood and the rest of your life. This is one of the long term goals for college students that everyone can relate to.
If your personal goal in this area is to lose weight, then it should involve eating clean in some sort of capacity.
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Do you want to cut something from your diet? Sugar, maybe?
Or do you want to add something healthy, like veggies and hummus as a snack?
Perhaps you want to start eating healthier? What about starting to exercise again?
Whether you start a new diet or decide to drink more water, all of us, especially students, can benefit from setting a personal goal for our diet decisions.
#8. Create a Morning Routine
I am very passionate about morning routines. There is no better way to start your day than with the right routine in place. When your morning goes well, your whole day will follow. And that’s coming from someone who isn’t a morning person!
The things I include in my morning routine are: getting dressed, drinking a glass of water, diffusing essential oils, making my morning smoothie, meditating and praying, filling out my daily journal and reviewing my daily tasks, and then going to work.
What will your morning routine look like?
What things will you do in the morning?
Will this be a personal goal of yours?
#7. Read More Books
Self-improvement can come in several different forms and different media outlets, but I always make reading its own goal. For me, it is one of the most important personal goals out of these long term goals for college students.
Reading can change your mindset, give you new perspectives, be one of your biggest teachers, and not to mention, increase your imagination.
I always set a personal goal where I assign time in my week when I will read. Then, I also set a deadline to complete a book to make sure reading remains a priority in my life. I hope you will make it a priority in yours too.
Ask yourself, how many books can you read this year? What have you always wanted to read, beyond the college course syllabus? Just start reading!
👉🏽 RELATED POST: The Best Personal Development Books
#6. Become Debt Free
If you are still a student, you may roll your eyes at this because while you are in school it is extremely hard to be debt-free. If you have student loans or you are working your way through school, debt may be a necessity just to make it.
However, it is so important as a student to establish a mindset of becoming debt-free. For example, after college, I worked extremely hard and said no to quite a few things to make sure I would be debt-free within three years of graduating from college.
Debt will only bring you further and further away from achieving your financial goals; financial wealth only comes after the debt is paid off. Dave Ramsey is my favorite resource when it comes to living debt free after college.
What personal goal will you set to become debt free?
Have you created a budget for your spending?
How can you start paying down your student loans faster?
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How to Save More Money in College
#5. Build Your Career
Career goals were the hardest for me to come up with after college. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with my life.
Sometimes career goals can be the hardest ones to set because our career ideas are not measurable, they are dependent on circumstances. At the same time, circumstances can’t be the excuses.
When setting career goals, make them as close to SMART goals as you can, and then put in extremely hard work and the rest should fall into place.
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How can you advance your career?
Should you follow your dreams or be realistic?
Where do you want to be in five or ten years from now?
What career opportunities do you have available to you right now?
#4. Just Have More Fun
You probably could have guessed the long term goals for college students listed were the practical ones, but this one is one we tend to skip over.
How can you live in the moment and just be present?
What do you want your social life to look like now and in the future?
How can you be happier every day and just have fun?
Setting a goal for your social life may seem awkward and unnecessary at first, but it is the best way to create the social life you want. If you want a better community, then set a personal goal to create it.
If you want your weekends to look a certain way, then create the goal.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How to Put Yourself Out there in College
#3. Build Better Relationships
This goes with the point above – creating the social life you want. Relationships are the next key to creating the support network you need with people that care for you and that you can trust.
To set personal goals around relationships, think about what you can do for others. If you want a better community then you have to put the work in.
What goals will you set to build your relationships in your life?
What toxic relationships will you eliminate through your goals?
Do you want to manifest love in your life?
This is another of the long term goals for college students that are easily overlooked but is so important to start thinking about as soon as you can.
#2. Start Exercising Daily
If you set a personal goal to make better food choices, then this is a great personal goal for you to consider as well. The key to making this goal work for you is to find the things that you really like doing.
You have to move your body in college, to protect both your mental and emotional wellness. Exercise is important! It helps to relieve stress, which every college student experiences.
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For me, I found that the method of exercise I liked the most was going on long runs. That motivated me to sign up for a half marathon and helped me establish that personal goal.
Need more convincing? Just consider this article by American Intercontinental University on why it is so important to exercise as a college student.
Whichever way you chose to exercise, make sure it is one that you enjoy; it is also the example of a long term goal for college students that are best implemented as soon as possible, to make the transition to post-college more seamless.
#1. Master Time Management
How you manage your time will determine how all these personal goals fall into place. The irony here is that you can’t accomplish the goals you set if you don’t know how to manage your time.
Setting a personal goal around time management will directly affect how well you accomplish your other goals. This goal could be as simple as filling out a journal each morning as part of your routine or investing in a calendar to help you stay on track.
You can also start using the Pomodoro Technique for studying or time blocking to maximize your time every day.
This is my top pick for the best long term goals for college students because it helps you accomplish all the other personal goals you set in huge ways.
How To Carry These Personal Goals Over Post-College
Your 20’s are a time for you to establish the right habits, and those are established when you set the right goals.
These long term goals for college students will help you start setting the right goals.
Remember to start with your why, think of the big dream you want to accomplish, come up with the baby steps to get to your dream, imagine the barriers and setbacks that will come your way, and to make them SMART goals.
Get Your SMART Goals Worksheet
Ready to set a S.M.A.R.T. goal? To make your long-term personal goal Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound with the FREE SMART Goals Worksheet.
Once you do that, you will be on your way to set up your life for success, today as a student and soon post-college. The personal goals that you establish today will help you today and every day going forward.
Start setting the right long term goals today. And remember, there’s more to life than long-term academic goals.
Which of the long-term personal goals examples for students above will you create first?
Want to set long term goals for life after college? Here are 11 personal long term goal ideas for college students by @kelseyschenk. #StudentLife #GoalSetting #Millennial
What long term goals for college students will you set?
More About Guest Contributor
Hey there, I’m Kelsey of Good Point Grandma! I help 20-somethings live their most fulfilling life as we walk through the journey of adulthood together. For me, adulting isn’t about wasting your money and your time away. It’s about defining your goals, what success looks like to you and then taking focused steps to set up the rest of your life for success.
Last Updated on July 11, 2021
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