25 Goals All 18-Year Olds Should Set to Become an Adult

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Help, I’m becoming an adult! Many an 18-year-old has found themselves floundering like a duckling that can’t swim once they realized they were no longer teenagers and were about to enter adulthood soon.

What do you do when you realize you are fast leaving childhood behind and adulthood is lying ahead of you like a huge chasm? It’s intimidating, scary, and frustrating

There is a lot to learn still, but by setting goals for 18 year olds, you can bring some order to the chaos. I promise, with some diligence and a little patience, we can help steer your first steps into the land of taxes-paychecks-boss-relationships… to one day having kids of your own to guide in the right direction.

Here’s everything you need to learn about how goals for 18-year-olds are important to a successful start into adulthood. 

What Are Goals?

Goals are principles or sets of achievements you want to reach in your life at a specific time. When you set goals, you decide on what you want to do and what you want to achieve by a certain deadline. Goals are great because they help us achieve something, set a finish line, and reach a deadline. 

Setting a goal is about setting an actual series of steps to guide you to a larger achievement you seek to reach. Ambition is how you reach a goal by achieving what you set out to do.

By setting goals, you create action steps or mini-goals to help you reach the ultimate goal that you are striving for. When you create goals, you ensure that you are realistic and driven, never leaving success to chance. Goals are hard work, and they need dedication and drive to be actualized. 

Goals Vs Dreams

We all have dreams of what we want to be one day and what we want to chalk up to our credit. These are all grand schemes and ideals that we try to achieve one day, but we don’t have any idea how it will manifest in our lives. 

So if you are looking to climb a mountain, that would be a dream. But only once you start turning those dreams into goals by researching the mountain and planning routes and creating lists of what you need to climb the mountain can you set goals that help you manage each step of the mountain.  

Why Are Goals Important for 18-Year-Olds?

Goals are valuable ways to set up the steps you need to do before you reach your destination after a day’s work. Everybody needs to set goals as this gives your life direction and value

But why is it so important for 18-year-olds to set goals? What marks this age a serious stage that pre-adults need more goal setting in? 

When teens learn to use goals, they learn about accountability and tracking their own progress. As an adult, you need to use goals to help you get ahead in life, stay true to what matters to you, and create a forward trajectory.

The goals you had as a teenager will change when you are an adult, but having goals remains important to a successful life

Here are a few reasons why 18-year-olds need goals more than other age groups: 

  • The transition from teenager to adult is one of the biggest transitions in life, with the most changes as you move from learning as a child to earning as a “grown up.”
  • You are starting out with an independent life, and you are heading toward large changes, which is where having goals can help keep you on a path
  • The role of guidance provided by your parents becomes less controlling, which means you need new guidance, and goals can teach you where to go.
  • Early use of goals helps set you up for success and builds focus and motivation.
  • Knowing how to use goals can help you learn about support and how to hold yourself accountable for your own greatness. 
  • Goals help you make important life decisions and help you manage self-control and learn about yourself in your new environment of careers and college. 

Goal-Setting Methods

There are several methods that help you set goals. Which one you choose depends on which best helps you achieve results

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There are multiple techniques available to aid in goal-setting, and the choice of method depends on what works best for you in terms of achieving desired outcomes.

Ultimately, a goal is only as successful as your ability to stick to it, which is where having the right method is important. 

SMART Goals 

At school you learned about SMART goals, right? Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals help you decide whether your goals are defined, if you can track them, reach them in a specific time frame, and if they matter to you

The W’s Goal Setting Method

If you write down the six Ws, who, what, when, where, why, and which, you can create relevant goals that clear up confusion and help you realize where goals go wrong.

One Word Goals

Sometimes a goal doesn’t have to be complicated. When you can simplify a goal down to a single word, you know you can achieve it. 

If you want to buy a car, you may consider that it’s not going to motivate you to have that goal’s word be “car”, but when the word is “mobility” you may have more interest in achieving it. 

What Makes a Goal Stick?

Your goals are only as good as the amount of continuous work you are willing to put into it. When a goal sticks, you know success is just around the corner. When you’re 18-years-old, you probably don’t have as much experience with setting goals and having them stick around long term yet. 

So what makes a goal stick?

  • The goal is realistic and achievable. Nobody is going to work at a goal that they know is out of reach and will never be achieved. 
  • A goal needs to be relevant to your needs. A goal that was set by someone else or that has no impact on your life is not something that will motivate you to achieve it.
  • Can you see your goal? Visualization of achievable goals leads to success. When you can’t even visualize it, you won’t make it happen.
  • Do you have time for it? When you set a new goal, you need to have time to achieve it each day. If you’re too busy for the early morning commute to the gym, you won’t have time for gym membership either. 
  • A goal that is supported by your social network will have greater mileage in it. When nobody cares about a goal you’ve set, it becomes that much harder to work on that goal.

25 Goals for 18-Year-Olds 

Ready to set some life-forming goals? Here are a few great goal suggestions for 18-year-olds transitioning into adulthood.

1. Self-Discovery 

You’re 18, and you’re starting out in life. It’s important to engage in regular self-discovery. Make the time each morning to write, meditate, and reflect before you go into the world where people want you to be what they need, forgetting your goal should be to be what you need.

Make friends with yourself. 

2. Mindfulness 

Mindfulness isn’t about sitting on a mountain top thinking about the eternal; it’s also about becoming self-aware and informed about your life and how you are living it. When you are self-aware, you become more attuned to what you value in your life.

3. Travel 

We live in a beautiful world, and traveling to see more of it can really help shape you as a person. When you travel, you learn about the world and your interaction with it, which makes for a great goal, don’t you think? 

4. Self-Development

When you learn, you grow. If you don’t learn, you stagnate and eventually, your forward momentum is lost. Self-development includes studying new and interesting things through self-learning and college learning. Learn about life and live with an attitude of being a life-long learner.

5. Get Your First Job

In life, you will have more than one job. It’s estimated that most people will have more than 12 jobs in their life (BLS). It’s become the norm to move from one job to the next as people no longer only want a paycheck from their jobs. 

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It's possible that your initial job may not align with your desired career path, however, it can serve as the launching point for your professional journey.

Your first job may not be your dream job, but it can be the start of your employment journey. Don’t decline jobs because you can’t see yourself doing that job when you’re 70. Seize the opportunities that present.

6. Prioritizing

Learn to prioritize what matters in life. Don’t get side-tracked by fame or fortune when your attention should be on what matters. Set the goal of prioritizing your life, letting the things that matter get your full attention. 

7. Develop Good Financial Habits

An important life goal is to develop sound financial values and habits. Learn to budget and save, letting your self-control stop you ending in debt, and create a healthy view on what value life, time, and money have in your life. 

8. Learn a New Language 

Most Westerners speak only one language, and it can be a challenge when they realize the world has many languages. Learn to speak an additional language with confidence and you will impress those you meet. Each language adds knowledge and cultural tolerance to your arsenal. 

9. Make Time for Self-Care

Self-care is not taking a day off to go to the spa (though it may include a spa day). Instead, make it your goal to set aside time each day for self-care in the many forms you need care: physical (go for a walk or 15 minute HITT), mental (read soul-nourishing literature), and spiritual (do a soul cleanse and let go of pain with a light shower). 

10. Live With Kindness

We know kindness means doing something for someone else, but it’s also the way you live. It’s about helping all living things (including yourself) and making life better for every living being. 

Part of kindness is to always see what is needed in situations you find yourself in and doing what you can, like paying for a colleague’s coffee to cheer them up. Make kindness your goal in life. 

11. Read More Widely

While we live in the information age, we are surprisingly lazy to read all the information we have right at our fingertips. Being well-read means also reading many different genres and fields, learning as you read, and developing a more wholesome life-view. Make it your goal to read a book a week—there are so many great books to read.

12. Visualize Your Future

Have you ever visualized where you want to be in five years’ time? Ten years? When you’re 60? Visualizing your future is a goal you should stick to. When you make it a goal to see your next steps, you will live a life of intention.

13. Time Management

We only have 41,000,000 minutes to live from birth to death. Setting better time management as your goal will make those minutes so much more precious and meaningful. 

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Explore ways to increase your efficiency, while also making time for meaningful activities.

Discover how to improve productivity, while also setting aside time for things that matter. Become aware of whether your life is spent or invested in the things you do.

14. Find a Mentor

A mentor can make or break your life. Despite becoming an adult at 18, you still need guidance, and often, you’ve outgrown the guidance your parents can give. Finding a mentor should be a life goal. 

A mentor is an older person you relate to and whom you feel a deep connection of respect and appreciation for. Mentors help you see life from a different angle, and they guide you.

15. Promote Sustainability 

Make it your goal to live at one with the world around you. You have the power to help or hurt the earth, and each of us should make it our goal to live sustainably

A life of sustainability is being conscious of the impact you have on the environment through your shopping habits, diet, movement, place of residence, and more.

16. Embark on Weekly Adventures

Life is for living. Don’t get caught up in work and forget to live. Make it your goal to enjoy your adulthood with a weekly adventure. Your adventure can simply be a lunch-hour scavenger hunt, a Saturday morning wall climb, or a Monday night speed-date event. Have fun. 

17. Make a Difference

You probably want to live a life that makes a difference. We all want to leave a legacy. In the end, our deeds are what remains, not who we were. 

Make it your goal to live a life that makes a difference in the lives of others. Help out at shelters, soup kitchens, teen addiction centers, and more. Build houses for the poor, schools in Africa, or hospitals in the Middle East.

18. Choose Your Family 

When you leave home, you may realize you have the ability to choose your family. For many, the concept of family transcends genetic similarity. Make it your goal to choose who you call family, living with the awareness that your chosen family is precious and integral to your life. 

19. Live Simply 

Make it your goal to live a frugal life. Now, you don’t have to be stingy, but saying no to the culture of shopping to fill the hole in your soul will help you better embrace a life of simplicity and joy. Consider reading up on Stoicism and minimalistic living.

20. Manage Your Stress

An important life goal is to constantly manage your stress, never letting it boil over because you simply let it accumulate in your nerves and mind. 

Self-awareness will help you with this goal, but consciously use one stress-busting technique each day to help your body let go of tension. Write in a journal, do a meditation, or take up bonsai making.

21. Cultivate a Healthy Lifestyle

Your goal for living on your own as an adult should be to create a healthy lifestyle that you can own. Decide on what your diet will look like, how you will embrace exercise and mental stimulation, and what role friends and social time will play in your day. You’re in the driver’s seat now, so it’s time to own up and create a healthy lifestyle.

22. Make Better Relationship Decisions

While you were a teenager, you probably had a few bad friendships, and you may even have been negatively influenced by those you socialized with. As an adult, it’s important to make healthy relationships your goal. 

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Opt to avoid interacting with individuals who pose a threat to your well-being and mental stability.

Choose not to socialize with people who are unsafe and bad for your mental health. Create relationships that are positive and build your life. Really start the relationship that is the most important of your life: the relationship with yourself.

23. Develop Positivity 

Make it your goal to never live a day where negativity rules. Choose to be positive, making positivity in your interactions with others and your mental state a goal. You can choose to live with a positive life outlook or to let negativity drag you down.

24. Do a Frequent Social Media Cleanse

You probably live on your phone or scroll through social media feeds at least every couple of minutes, right? As a teenager, your life was all about being social.

There’s nothing wrong with being social, but as an adult, you realize that life is about more than the false public image that people have on social media (and it’s certainly not the mud-slinging-screenshot-convos that have the internet in stitches). 

Do a social media cleanse at least every three months. It means you take a break from social media for two to three weeks, closing the apps and muting notifications that call you to the world of social trickery.

Even better would be to live with the goal to never engage with polluted social media. Watch cat videos on YouTube instead—and make your soul smile.

25. Live Without Complaint 

A life without complaining is a life of gratitude and fortitude. Make it your goal to live as complaint free as possible. When you start to complain about something, ask yourself whether complaining does anything productive, or if you’re simply venting.

If complaining helps, great (then it’s actually sharing)—otherwise, you are simply losing more ground and slipping into a B&M personality.

Final Thoughts on Goals for 18 Year Olds

You’ve gone from being a teen to an adult, almost overnight. Now, it’s up to you to set your own life goals, focusing your energy on the things that add meaning to your life and create the best part of you each day. 

These goals for 18-year-olds are an important part of growing up. Use goals to help you reach your ideals, making dreams a reality and ambitions a blessing. Happy goal setting. 

For more on SMART goals, read our guide on how to write, set, and master SMART goals.

Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.

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