How to Create Personal Growth Goals in Midlife
Inside: Setting personal growth goals in midlife.
I’m going to get real here. Midlife has thrown me some curve balls. I never anticipated a midlife transition, yet here I am.
What do I mean by midlife transition?
I mean that I’ve reached a place in life where I’m beginning to dig deep into some life questions.
What do I want to work on? Who do I want to become? (Yes – that is a legit question I’m asking in my 40’s. Go figure.) How do I want to change? How do I want to show up in the world? Am I living up to my full potential? What am I doing with my life?
I didn’t expect to be thinking about personal growth goals in midlife. Yet here I am, outlining personal growth goals for self-improvement.
Initially, that might seem weird. I mean, I’m supposed to have things figured out because I’m a GROWN UP, thank you very much.
But honestly, I’m not sure that we ever have it ALL figured out. (That is if we’re being honest.)
I think it’s because if we’re paying attention, we realize that our entire lives are a personal growth journey.
What I mean by that is that if we are growing and changing, then it’s likely that our personal growth goals are growing and changing, too. Our personal growth goals for self-improvement aren’t set forever. Otherwise, we are just stagnant and stuck.
And who wants that?
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Personal Growth Goals in Midlife
Midlife might seem like a strange time to be revisiting or re-evaluating growth goals. But if you think about it, it’s a great time.
Midlife is a time of self-reflection. You’ve reached a point in life where you’re no longer “young.” But you aren’t “old,” either!
As my grandma used to say, age is only a number.
I can still hear her now: “You’re as young as you feel!”
And she was right.
But as we reach this phase in midlife, it can feel messy. Uncomfortable. Hard.
For me, it was the realization that my life was passing me by and I wasn’t living it the way I wanted to live it. Plus, I was trying so hard to be perfect for everyone else, that I wasn’t being true to myself. I wasn’t being ME.
So for the past few years, I’ve been working on self-improvement and growth goals. I decided that if I wanted to be more confident and happier, then it was up to me to make it happen.
I’ve seen some great changes. And although I’m not exactly where I want to be, I’m so much further than when I began.
I can also tell you this: Starting down the path of intentionally working towards personal growth has been the best thing I’ve ever done. I used to feel like I peaked in my 30s.
But I can honestly say that at this point, I believe my midlife phase is only going to get better.
In fact, I believe midlife is an awesome opportunity for new beginnings and “reboots.”
Do you ever feel stuck? Do you want to be further along in three months, six months, or a year from now?
If you feel stuck in midlife (or any phase of life) and you feel like you want to get moving – here’s some ideas on setting some personal growth goals.
Looking for a Goal Planner? Check out this “Get It Done” Goal Planner here.
Perform an Assessment of Your Life
Consider your life right now. How’s it working for you? What are your strengths, opportunities, and roadblocks?
What’s holding you back from having the life you want?
As you do this, look at your life in different areas. Here are some examples.
Now for each of those areas, record what you want it to look like. Where could you set some realistic growth goals? What changes do you want to see? How can you improve? What would make you happy? (Yeah. That’s right. Happy. You deserve to be happy.)
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
You aren’t going to grow if you don’t stretch a little, people. A few years ago, I joined a six-week weight loss program. The goal of the program was to lose 20 pounds in six weeks. (Crazy. But I did it.)
The interesting thing I learned as I went through it, was that it wasn’t just a weight loss program. It was also a mindset program.
During the the six weeks, I shifted my mindset significantly. I also did things outside of my comfort zone. For five days a week, I got up out of bed at 4:45 a.m. to catch a 5:30 a.m. group workout. I ate super clean. I didn’t drink alcohol. (And I love my wine.)
Every day, I packed my lunch to take to work. If my boss took us to a good restaurant for a working lunch, I brought my little lunch bag into the restaurant. Or I ate in my car and joined the team when I was done.
Does that seem extreme? Yes. Did it feel uncomfortable? You bet. But did I get the results I wanted? Sure did!
From a physical standpoint, I hadn’t worked that hard since I was an athlete in high school. The program leader constantly preached “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” And it was great advice.
Getting comfortable with going way outside my comfort zone paid off and I saw great results. Not just from a weight-loss standpoint, but a mindset standpoint.
Make Your Growth Goals SMART
I’ll be honest. I used to roll my eyes when anyone mentioned SMART goals. It just seemed so tedious to me. But the truth is, if we’re going to set goals then it makes sense to apply these parameters. After all, it’s a lot harder to track results and make necessary changes if you aren’t being smart about your goals. Here’s what SMART stands for:
S.M.A.R.T. Goals – Specific:
Be specific about your goals and what you want to achieve. The more detail you can include in your goals, the better you will be able to tailor a plan to achieve the goal
Example: Maybe you want to focus on gratitude. Instead of making it a goal to “be more grateful,” you can be more specific by saying:
“I will intentionally practice gratitude by keeping a daily gratitude journal for three months and note the positive changes that result.”
That’s a basic version. You can add more details, too, by asking yourself the “who, what, where, why and how’s” that could possibly go along with your goal.
“What exactly do I want?”
“Where will this happen? Why do I want this? How will I get there – what steps and actions do I need to take to achieve these goals? In what time frame do these steps need to happen to meet this goal by my deadline?” These are questions to consider as you plan your goals.
S.M.A.R.T Goals: Measurable:
Once you create specific growth goals, you then want to be able to measure them. How will you measure your progress?
If we use the example of gratitude, how would that look? What are the measurable steps you need to take?
Example: You will need to buy a journal of some sort and schedule time daily to list what you are grateful for.
You’ll need to decide your format. Will this be a free-flowing format or a list? What time of day will you write? At the same time or when you can fit it in? Will you list 5 things a day? Ten things? As many as you can think of?
Will you review weekly or monthly to check in on how this is impacting and changing your mindset and your life?
S.M.A.R.T Goals: Attainable:
Is your goal attainable? Is this something you can commit to? Focusing on gratitude is a pretty simple goal. Let’s say your goal was fitness related, and you decided to train for a marathon. Is that attainable for you given your current schedule and health status? Or should you start with a 5k?
Only you can decide. Choose something that gets you out of your comfort zone but also something you can realistically work towards. If you fall short, that’s okay. Any progress IS success.
S.M.A.R.T Goals: Relevant:
This one is important. Is your goal relevant for you? Does it align with your purpose? Your desires? With what you want? Is the goal important to you?
Or are you doing it because you think you should? This isn’t the time to be a people-pleaser or follow the crowd. If you’re going to set growth goals, create them with what you truly want and need in mind.
S.M.A.R.T Goals: Timely:
Finally, make your growth goals time specific. Give them a deadline, and make it realistic. Consider what roadblocks you may encounter and what will be required (and how much time needed) to achieve your growth goals.
And be ready to be flexible and make tweaks if necessary.
Put Your Personal Growth Plan on Paper
Whether you use a journal or goal sheets, you should write out your plan and track your progress. If you don’t, it may be hard to see your progress, which will lead to frustration.
When I started my personal growth journey, I would jot down notes about the changes I wanted to make. I kept a journal. But I didn’t make a real plan. Looking back, I wish I had written out a plan sooner.
But still, even from my notes, I can look back and see how much progress I’ve made. Many of the things I wrote down as intention or goals have come to fruition.
There is power in writing. Writing a plan and checking on progress keeps you focused, organized and accountable.
Personal Growth Goal Planning for Self-Improvement and Empowerment
If you want to change your life, consider setting some personal growth goals. Your goals will be unique to you, but here are some ideas about personal areas of life you might want to consider:
This one has come up more recently for me. I’m being pulled to live authentically and show up as my true self. We should all be showing up as our true selves. Be yourself. Stop apologizing. Stop people-pleasing. Set boundaries. Stop doing things you don’t want to do.
What’s an example of a goal-centered around this idea? Say you have a hard time setting personal boundaries and you find that you are always over-committing to requests and events. This leaves you stressed, frazzled, tired and possibly resentful.
Set a goal to limit your obligations and commitments. Make it SMART:
Specific – I will limit my social/family commitments to no more than once per week.
Measurable – I know I have three things in the next month that I will be asked to attend. That leaves only one more thing to add to your calendar to meet the goal of no more than one per week. What comes up? How do you handle it?
Attainable – Is this achievable considering your obligations? Do you have several volunteer groups you work with? Family calling on you more often than not for things they should be doing? Being generous with helping is one thing. Being taken advantage of is another.
Do you need to cut back on what you have committed to so you can meet this goal and not deplete your energy?
Relevant – Does this matter to you? Is it something you desire and will it change your life for the better?
Timely – Can you put a time frame on it? In this case, you are setting a limit of obligations within a certain period. So, yes.
Track your progress by journaling about situations that come up and how you handle them. Look for ways to do things differently and change your behavior. Document that journey so you can see your progress. (
Develop Healthy Habits
Your daily habits shape your days and your days shape your life into what it is. So what do you want your life to be? Think about what you want and what habits will get you there.
How do you feel, physically? Do you need to move more? Are you eating a balanced diet and getting the nutrients you need? In today’s crazy, fast-paced world, it’s so easy to let good eating habits slip.
Change Your Mindset
Are you a positive thinker or a negative one? Immerse yourself in resources that teach you how to change your thinking, like books and podcasts. Track your progress with a habit tracker.
Showing appreciation and gratitude for what you already have is proven to improve your satisfaction with life. Practicing gratitude can make you happier.
Believe it or not, there are health benefits to being kind. Being kind is good for your heart. And like gratitude, practicing kindness can improve your happiness. Practicing kindness also helps you move from a selfish standpoint to a selfless one.
Being kind helps to reduce stress and negative emotions. And people will just like you more. As Granny always said, you get more with honey than you do with vinegar. #grannyism
Be More Open-Minded
Open up to different perspectives. With what’s going on in our world today, that might seem unrealistic. But it’s a good one to consider. Parenting styles. Spiritualty. Politics. Yes, even politics. Just consider someone else’s viewpoint for a minute before dumping all over it.
Learn New Things
Your personal growth goals can be centered around new activities or hobbies. Immerse yourself something new that challenges you physically or mentally.
Manage Your Time Effectively
If you don’t manage your time, your day will be shot. This is a hard one for me. Time blocking is the best way that I’ve found to manage my monkey mind and Phil Dunfee antics.
That and keeping lists. I’m a list addict. Figure out a way to manage time that works for you. Set boundaries with other people. Shut off phone and email when necessary. Prioritize your list with a top 3, 5 or 10 if you’re ambitious) things that must be done first for the day. (Simple to do list)
Find Your People
Connect and network. Introverts – I know this seems hard! But think of it as “building authentic relationships.”
Face Your Fears
Listen, fear is normal. But we need to learn to work with it and not against it. I heard somewhere that we need to acknowledge our fear and appreciate it, because fear is a natural reaction designed to keep us safe. Just acknowledge that and keep moving forward.
Be More Mindful
Find ways to can learn to embrace moments and let go of things that don’t matter. Set growth goals that help you to live more mindfully and intentionally.
Start Your Personal Growth Plan Now
Explore who you truly are and what you want out of life. Then start taking action.
Stop asking for permission and acceptance from others. Do what you want to do. Life is short so you need to make the most of it.