20 Goal Ideas: Set Your Yearly Goals for 2024 | Friday.app

20 Goal Ideas for 2024: Make Your List

Posted by Brandon Evans

New Year’s goals are about making lasting improvements. Those who believe in themselves, armed with the right tools, can achieve just about anything.  This post will give you some potential goal ideas to start off 2024 on the right foot.

Why Are New Year Goals Important? The Fresh-Start Effect

There is a BIG psychological advantage to aligning goals with the calendar, the aptly named “Fresh Start Effect,” coined in a 2014 paper by Katherine L. Milkman.

“People create more new goals at the beginning of the month and year as compared with the end,” explains Milkman, largely because “motivation to pursue personal goals can be altered by the initiation of new mental accounting periods... [such as] time dividers on the yearly calendar.”

In essence, we experience a natural spike in motivation when transitioning into a new period, whether that’s a whole new year or just another Monday. 

We’re more likely to commit to and achieve any goals we set when our expectancy is higher, when we’re mentally empowered to put past failure behind us and future success in front.

If you’re curious about Goal-Setting Theory, there’s a healthy dose in the goal-setting guide.

What goals should you set in 2024? Here's your goals list.

New Year’s goals can often be a little generalized or gimmicky, where they’re either too vague or irrelevant. So, to those in search of actionable goals for 2024, look no further!

Packed with both personal and professional goals, our list of 20 potential ideas includes goals in 3 categories:

Personal growth goals: Introspection feels natural during transition periods, so a personal growth goal may just be the perfect start to your list!

• Professional development goals: Rather than falling victim to a hypnotic work-week cycle, Professional goals help you to change the way in which you work, perfect for those wanting to set productivity records!

• Health goals: It’s hard to achieve your goals when you don’t feel spritely or alert, so add some healthy aims to your 2024 goals list and see the difference it makes to both work and play. 

• Lifestyle goals: While working on yourself or getting ahead at work are admirable pursuits, there are plenty of lifestyle goals you can set for 2024. As you find enjoyment in this type of goal, they are ideal counterbalances to your more rigorous work targets.

1. Continually Learn 

Goal Type: Personal growth

Various papers explore the benefits of lifelong learning (LLL), most notably enriched self-fulfillment, better career opportunities and a general sharpening of the mind. While academics are concerned with the underlying methods of education, the concept of continually learning is valuable to all.

How to Implement: Effective goals must be measurable, meaning you should aim to tie ‘learning’ to something tangible, like reading a number of texts in a given timeframe, or some project with a well-defined end result – ‘make an origami swan.’ 

Classes on MasterClass, Skillshare, Udemy or joining an in-person hobby club are all fantastic ways to structure your continual learning.

2. Keep a Daily Journal or Gratitude Log 

Goal Type: Personal growth

 If you don’t already make use of a journal, either a daily planner or a dedicated gratitude log, there’s good reason to start in 2024. Regular expressive writing has been linked to improved immune system functioning, greater psychological well-being, and better working memory, amongst many more.

How to Implement: If you consider yourself a creative person, you may love paper planners or journals; start with a daily log or weekly spread. Alternatively, a digital journal app or other goal tracking applications may be better suited to the methodical or tech-minded. Either way, a regimented journal system is an ideal tool for improving many aspects of your life at once, including organizational skills and mood.

3. Respond Don’t React

Goal Type: Personal growth

Because goal-setting is an example of responsive thinking, this one is a little bit of a catch-22 situation. Addressing negative behaviors offers tremendous rewards. Behavioral goals are designed to reinforce positive actions, not to discourage you whenever you make mistakes.

How to Implement: Being responsive means you aren’t simply taking in information, but also recording it for when you plan to act upon it. Having a notepad to hand allows you to rapidly log your ideas as you have them, though the same can be achieved with an online digital journal if you prefer those formats.

4. Set Process Goals for Creativity

Goal Type: Personal growth

Goals that relate to creative endeavors are especially appealing as there’s always the possibility of discovering a hidden talent. Even if you don’t, the process of creating something is fun. “Be more creative” isn’t a great outcome goal, because it’s too ambiguous. 

If you want to tap into your creativity, set process goals, like ‘sketch a doodle every morning’ or “spend family time on arts & crafts.”

How to Implement: As creativity is such a primal human instinct, there is plenty of opportunity to tap into it. Simply prioritize activities that allow you to exercise these skills. It could be cooking up a new recipe, writing a short story or revitalizing home décor – there really is no limit!

5. Improve Personal Relationships

Goal Type: Personal growth

Improving personal relationships is a great goal for 2024, especially considering the stresses and strains that this last year has thrown at us. In the business of life, we can overlook the most integral elements of life. Committing to more family time or arranging a social gathering a few nights a week are massively influential on your wellbeing. Starting a new hobby/activity with a friend or partner is a brilliant way to merge two goals, with the added bonus of extra motivation.

How to Implement: You can make use of a daily schedule for both work or personal life, but when it’s the latter, actively pencil in time to strengthen personal relationships. Actively organizing personal time may feel strange at first, especially when compared to simply letting it occur organically, but it’s an active step that encourages you to take friends and family more seriously, thus paving the way to improve those relationships.

6. Prioritize Self-Care

Goal Type: Personal growth

When you say “self-care,” most people think of a warm cupful of green tea, packed with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant polyphenols – yum! However, depending on who you’re talking to, self-care can take a myriad of forms:

  • Physical: getting enough sleep, exercising, balanced diet
  • Emotional: positive self-talk, an indulgence/reward
  • Spiritual: meditation, mindfulness, time in nature

In truth, self-care simply means being active in the preservation of your health, which obviously includes physiological needs and mental wellbeing. Following a sleep schedule is one example of a self-care goal, but meeting a friend for coffee and a chat, or going to a yoga class on Tuesday are equally valid!

How to Implement: In order to assess how well you already practice self-care, try to get a mood tracker going. Aside from the fact that tracking mood offers its own benefits, you will quickly be able to determine whether you’re allocating enough time for the recovery of body and mind.  

7. Gain New Skills

Goal type: Professional development

Gaining new skills, or developing existing ones to higher levels of competency, is one of the best ways to further your career. Taking skills courses, for instance in programming, sales or design, allows you to diversify your applications, proving a more valuable asset to any project or organization.

How to Implement: There are many routes for gaining skills, such as reading insightful books, attending seminars/classes, tutor programs attached to your company, training on the job, and dedicating personal time. Consider the skills required for jobs you anticipate searching for in the future to determine where best to invest your energy.

8. Get more organized with a daily planner

Goal type: Professional development

If the idea of getting organized is attractive to you, looking into a daily planner should be top of your goal list. On the surface, it’s just a way of scheduling your life, but there are many hidden advantages. While a planner is a physical record, brilliant for archiving and progress tracking, they are an absolute necessity for proper time-management and maximized productivity.

9. Focus and Block Distractions

Goal type: Professional development

It’s something we all struggle with, making it a prime choice for a 2024 goal. You can’t really force yourself to focus, which seems a bit ironic. The key is preparation, by finding an attractive, quiet space to work in, keeping that space free of anything that pulls your attention, and arranging sufficiently challenging work that stimulates and engages you.

How to Implement: There are some productivity systems designed to work alongside deep focus, but they don’t necessarily help you concentration by themselves. If you find yourself zoning in and out of work, consider adopting a strict focus time policy, where you commit to solid work for a set time limit. If that sounds difficult, learn how to activate Focus Time directly in the Friday planner.

10. Practice Time Management Skills

Goal type: Professional development

Effective time-management is a major part of being successful at work, if not life. We don’t really scrutinize this core skill, so actively trying to improve it can make a major difference to your output. When you hold strong time-management skills, you achieve more tasks in less time, which in turn keeps your stress low and expectancy high – you’ll have confidence to take on the most challenging projects!

How to Implement: As simple as the concept of managing time is, this ability doesn’t come naturally to many. The quickest way to change that is to be extremely attentive of how you spend time. You can use productivity methods like time-blocking, to ensure important jobs are done, or a regimented work-rest pattern as in the Pomodoro technique.

11. Thoughtfully Share Opinions

Goal type: Professional development

“Our opinions do not really blossom into fruition until we have expressed them to someone else,” once said Mark Twain. If we had a time machine we’d go back and make him add thoughtfully. There’s a huge amount of correspondence in the modern workplace, especially now with asynchronous workflows, so we absorb lots of opinions a day. Learning how to express oneself in a considerate, pleasing way is an insanely powerful skill.

How to Implement: the major part of thoughtfulness is empathy. Take your time with written work communication, like posts or check-ins, so that you have carefully considered how others will view your opinions. Even if people disagree, they will respect the approach. You could even get a step ahead by sourcing feedback prior, from documents like daily task reports, so that your opinions are better informed.

12. Resolve Conflict through Appreciation 

Goal type: Professional development

The coming of a new year is the perfect time to resolve conflicts. The symbolism of new beginnings encourages us to repair relationships and ready ourselves for future success. Poor working relationships are massively significant inefficiencies for a business, so wiping the slate clean is a noble goal for 2024.

How to Implement: As long as you recognize that we all struggle some days, you can justify cutting others a little slack, or giving them a much-needed boost! If you’re looking for more comprehensive advice on fostering an appreciative environment, shuffle over to our employee recognition guide!

13. Drink More Water

Goal type: Health

It makes up well over half of our body – jumping to 75% in the brain – and we can’t go more than 3 days without it. “Water is the elixir of life,” yet nearly 80% of Americans surveyed say they aren’t drinking enough. For some context, the expert advice is to have 4 to 6 cups of water per day, though there is no magic number on precisely how much you need.

How to Implement: If you don’t have a reusable water bottle, that’s the obvious way you can keep yourself hydrated! If you are particularly forgetful with water, you could use a schedule to set regular reminders to drink. You could even invest in a smart water bottle, which will periodically prompt you to drink more.

14. Exercise More 

Goal type: Health

The trap that many fall prey to, especially with New Year’s goals, is doing too much, too fast. Exercise is obviously physically demanding, so if you’re looking to significantly raise your fitness levels, it’s best to start slow. Once again, you must determine whether you’re setting outcome (“I will lose 10lbs by…”) or progress goals (I will ride my bike three times a week”).

How to Implement: A gym atmosphere can be intimidating, just as a complicated exercise routine can be too demanding, thus discouraging. 

Counting steps is a fantastic way to start moving more, as you compete against yourself. The general understanding is that competition raises motivation by providing adequate reason to improve performance, ultimately driven by our innate desire to win.

15. Get More Sleep

Goal type: Health

Getting more sleep can be deceptively difficult, which explains why it’s a long-time member of the New Year’s club. More than a third of Americans aren’t get enough sleep, according to CDC research, making this a rather relevant goal for 2024. The National Sleep Foundation advises adults to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. It’s not the most exciting goal, but sleep has an enormous impact on your productivity!

How to Implement: Aside from setting a strict sleep schedule, there’s not much else you can do to ensure you’re well-rested. Darkness prompts the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, so be attentive of screen time immediately before sleep. If you have a real issue detaching from your devices, there are apps for voluntarily locking yourself out, meaning there’s no getting back in until morning!

16. Wake Up Earlier

Goal type: Health

Aside from the obvious fact that you have more prep time in the morning, waking earlier carries some surprising benefits. One 2021 study found that moving sleep timing an hour earlier translated as a 23% lower risk of depression. Well before that, numerous studies conclude that waking early is good for health, including cognitive function, metabolism and attitude.

How to Implement: You should be as consistent as possible with sleep, so don’t let the Sunday morning lie-in get away from you. Of course, you’ll need to sleep earlier in order to wake earlier. Try placing your alarm clock on the other side of the room, forcing you to get up. Routines reinforce new behavior, so treat your morning schedule like a strict timetable!

Find out more about setting up super-productivity with our productive day tips!

17. Be in Nature

Goal type: Lifestyle

Immersing oneself in nature is a brilliant opportunity to mentally reset, which could easily coincide with other goals for 2024, including self-care or taking up a new hobby, from birdwatching to mountain biking. Reduced stress is perhaps the most immediate benefit, but there are lots of health benefits associated with green spaces.

How to Implement: If you’re feeling totally disengaged from nature, you should begin to take small steps towards your end goal. It could be as simple as eating outdoors or a night of stargazing. 

18. Read More Books

Goal type: Lifestyle

As you may be aware, the ultra-successful seem to really enjoy books. Bill Gates claims to get through around 50 of them a year, while entrepreneur Warren Buffett has long been famous for his insatiable reading habits, spending six hours a day doing so, according to Financial Post. Reading more books is a great goal for 2024, as you’re able to compound it with other goals, such as gaining new skills or continual learning.

How to Implement: You will quickly find yourself inseparable from books if you make them a recurring activity, either a few times a week or a little every day. If you’re reading for pleasure, don’t force yourself to read recommended books you don’t like; if you’re reading for knowledge, remind yourself of your reasons if you find yourself becoming bored.

Learn the secrets of Warren Buffett’s success: ruthless goal-setting with the 5-25 Rule

19. Join a Club or Meetup

Goal type: Lifestyle

 A social club might seem a tad extracurricular to the serious-minded, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are remarkably fun, with a crazy amount of benefits. Aside from the social gain, clubs are an ideal occasion to learn new skills, tap into your creativity, or get in shape, depending on the exact one you’re in.

How to Implement: Check with your colleagues first (this could be a great icebreaker!) search for nearby meetups, by interest. If starting an adventurous hobby is a preexisting ambition of yours, use a club as an excuse to get cracking!

20. Expand Your Horizons Through Travel

Goal type: Lifestyle

The opportunities to get away were, let’s say… sparse this last year, so prioritizing a special trip feels more than appropriate as a goal for 2024. Venturing to new places has a profound effect on your mindset. As a 2017 study puts it, “savoring an upcoming experience heightens ongoing and remembered enjoyment of the experience.” In essence, the excited anticipation of your trip is actually part of the total enjoyment!

How to Implement: Even if options remain limited, travel of any kind can boost your mood and help you to recharge. Working with what you’ve got, find a location that interests you, while offering original experiences. Not sure where to go? Ask others about their favorite places as an icebreaker!

Final Thoughts on Goals for 2024

The concept of setting goals as one enters a new year is old, to say the least. In ancient Egypt, around 5000 years ago, the celebration of Wepet Renpet was the ideal time to do so, coinciding with the Nile River’s annual midsummer flood, a symbol of the fertility and prosperity to come. 

A Millennium later in ancient Babylon, a 12-day celebration called Akitu was the equivalent opportunity for rejoicing. The Babylonians would sow their barley crops while making promises to their Gods to pay debts and/or return borrowed items.

Fast-forward a few thousand years, to 46 B.C., Roman emperor Julius Caesar is busy moving the first calendar day to January 1st, and with it the New Year festival. People still made new commitments, specifically to Janus, a two-faced god who could see past and future.

Unless you’re part of some extravagant reenactment, your goals for 2024 probably won’t have much to do with the Nile River or Janus. Our focuses have shifted, though this fundamental practice of yearly goal-setting remains the same. It’s a testament to our optimism, and the collective desire to better ourselves.

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