20 Goal Examples for 20 Year Olds & Young Adults

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I remember clearly how excited and nervous I was when I entered my twenties. I was finally going to be taken seriously because I was now a young adult. I was ready to take on the world and show them how bright my light could shine.

Looking back, I wish I had been more prepared and that someone had set out some important goals for 20 year olds that I could strive for. I would have accomplished so much more and dealt with things so much better.

Have you just entered your young adult life, and perhaps you feel like you have no direction? Or maybe you have a plan on the horizon, but you don't know how to get there?

Well, you've come to the right page because I've compiled the top 20 goal examples for 20-year-olds and young adults that I wish I had in my twenties. But first, let's take a look at what goals are and why you need them.

What Are Goals?

According to the dictionary, a goal is “the object of a person's ambition or effort,” but it's so much more than that, isn't it? Having a goal is one of the most important things that a human can have. Without one, we would merely be living day to day with no hopes for the future.

In a way, having a goal is just like having a dream. It's a strong desire to reach a certain point in your life. A goal forces you out of your comfort zone as you test your limits and attempt to make your dreams a reality.

By setting goals for yourself and always having something on the horizon, you'll feel more useful and motivated to chase your dreams. Remember, its okay for your goals to change and evolve as you enter young adulthood. It's all part of getting older and setting new priorities for yourself.

Different Types of Goals

Goals give us purpose and direction, and as we go through life, we set different types of goals for ourselves, such as:

  • Short-term goals can be reached in a short time, such as drinking more water or writing in a journal daily.
  • Interpersonal goals are focused on building relationships.
  • SMART goals are guaranteed to be reached, such as reading a book or building a puzzle.
  • Long-term goals can be reached over an extended period, such as bodybuilding.
  • Career and academic goals focus more on your professional and student life.
  • Financial goals focus on saving money and making healthy financial choices.
  • Stretch goals are riskier goals, such as leaving your job or completing a marathon. 

Methods for Effective Goal Setting 

Here are a few simple methods for effective goal setting:

  • On a piece of paper, make categories for different areas in your life that you want to work on, and then fill in your goals accordingly (remember to write down the date that you write your goal down).
  • Make a vision board and put it up where you'll see it daily (on the fridge or bathroom door). If you haven't made a vision board before, follow our simple 6-step guide.
  • Reward yourself by celebrating when you accomplish one of your goals. This will keep you motivated.
  • Remember that setbacks are part of life and a learning opportunity, so be kind to yourself.  

20 Goals for 20 Year Olds 

Let’s go smash some goals with these goals for 20 year olds and young adults:

1. Create a 10-Year Bucket List

You're probably thinking to yourself, “10 years? Why on earth would I set a bucket list for 10 years?” The answer is pretty simple. One of the biggest things we take for granted in our youth is the idea that we have time.

Before you blink your eyes, you are a 30 or 40-year-old looking back and wondering where the time went. So, grab a piece of paper and a pen, and write down 20 things (daring or simple) you'd love to do within the next 10 years.

By giving yourself 10 years, you're taking away that pressure to race through each item. You might not scratch each one off your list, but isn't it wonderful to have something to look forward to?

2. Build Lasting Relationships

Without you fully realizing it, there came a moment when you hung out with your childhood (school) friends for the very last time. Sadly, when we leave school, we often leave many friends and relationships behind

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Trust, mutual understanding, and a shared commitment to the relationship are essential for creating a deep and lasting connection with others.

We all have a plan, whether it's to take a year off before college to find yourself, start working for the family company, or studying. While these plans are in motion, our friendships and relationships often fizzle out (however, this isn't the case for everyone). 

It's important to build meaningful relationships with yourself, friends, family members, and others. You need a support system that you can rely on, especially when life gets a bit tough. A simple text message every now and then really strengthens a relationship

3. Be Mindful

When I hit my twenties, I felt like I could conquer the world. I knew everything (or thought I did), and I had it all figured out. Gosh, was I wrong. I still had a lot to learn, and being mindful of myself and others should have been one of my first goals as a young adult.

Stepping on people to climb the corporate ladder is not a good mindset. We all want to achieve our goals and be recognized, but there are better ways to get there.

Practicing simple mindfulness exercises helps you process and handle situations with calm emotional resilience. You'll be more self-aware, which will benefit you (and others) in the long run as you navigate this new chapter in your life.

4. Educate Yourself

“Knowledge is power.” By educating yourself, you're opening up so many doors and opportunities. Learning helps you overcome challenges, keeps you updated with life, and teaches you invaluable skills.

With all the online courses available (some of them are even free, like on Udemy), there's no excuse why you can't learn a new skill. You don't need to go to the top university or have a constant mentor to do something worthwhile.

Focus on self-learning: Do a mindfulness teaching course, study graphic design, or learn how to teach yoga. You have a wealth of educational resources at your fingertips. Plus, you are never too old to learn.

5. Don’t Be a “Yes Person”

Being a “yes person” essentially means you're a people-pleaser. If I can offer any advice, stop this bad habit as soon as possible. 

Being a people-pleaser doesn't make you popular. It simply means you're available for anything at any time, which is a dangerous path as it leads to people abusing your time and kindness.

Get your priorities right, and make it your goal to say no when you don't want to do something. This doesn't make you a bad person; it makes you a strong person who knows what you want. Remember, you have a choice in the matter and must do what's best for you.

6. Do Your Part

A sense of achievement and fulfillment comes from doing your part for your community. Believe me, I know life is busy but taking that small bit of time out of your week (or month) to do good for someone will make a massive difference in your life.

Volunteering boosts your self-confidence, life satisfaction, and self-esteem, giving you a sense of purpose. You can sign up for many things, for example, volunteering at a soup kitchen or a nursing home.

Find something you enjoy doing and give back to your community. Or practice random acts of kindness

7. Take Responsibility for Your Life

This is one of the most important goals you can set for yourself. As a young adult, don't fall into the entitlement trap where you play the victim. When things go wrong (which is bound to happen at some stage), you can't keep blaming others for your misfortunes or setbacks.

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Taking responsibility for your life is a powerful way to gain control over your present and future.

Take responsibility for your life and get on with it. It's a hard pill to swallow, but this is something only you can do. Throw away those crutches you lean on when life gets uncomfortable, and find a way to turn the situation around.

Life will always throw hurdles your way, and you must be prepared for that. Own it, and redirect it.

8. Honor Your Body

When you're young, you think you're invincible, but the truth is, that's when you need to take the best care of your body, both physically and mentally. Let's be honest; we don't always make the best decisions when we're young.

We push our bodies to the limits by partying or smoking too much. Or we do the polar opposite and sit in front of the television or computer screen for hours during our free time. Challenge yourself to get in shape. There are so many different types of exercises available.

Exercising regularly releases endorphins (feel-good hormones) that ease anxiety and depression; plus, you'll look and feel great. If you don't look after your body when you're young, it'll fail you even more in your old age.

9. Become Financially Savvy 

It's an excellent idea to set financial goals for yourself in your twenties, and being financially savvy should be at the top of that list. If crunching numbers is not your strong point, set up an appointment with a financial advisor and ask for advice.

It's not just about making money. It's about saving up for your future. You'll need to work on things like budgeting, adjusting your spending habits, and saving. 

A great goal to set for yourself is trying to improve your credit score by at least 50 points each year.

10. Make Mistakes

Yes, make mistakes, and don't be afraid of making them. We can only grow and improve our skills by learning from our mistakes. Don't sit on the sidelines and miss out. Make it your goal to try new things (obviously not the super risky kind), and if you fail, learn from it.

Don't try to be perfect because you are setting yourself up for failure. Take a chance, as the main thing is you tried. 

11. Go on Retreats

Life becomes hectic as you step into the working or studying world, and getting caught up in the rat race is easy. Make it your goal to go for at least one retreat a year. There are numerous types of retreats available, such as spiritual, meditation, spa, and adventure retreats.

Pick something that speaks to you, and use this time to relax and find yourself. You must take time out of your busy schedule to literally smell the flowers and hit the reset button.

12. Less Screen Time

Spending too much time on your phone or tablet is not good for you. It's distracting and leads to unhealthy and toxic comparisons with other people. Scrolling through social media the second you open your eyes can actually put a huge damper on your day.

Set small goals for yourself when it comes to screen time such as:

  • Wait an hour after waking up before you hit the socials. 
  • Put your phone away when you're talking to other people and fully engage with them).
  • Consider doing a social media detox.

Don't let your phone get in the way of experiencing life to the fullest.

13. Travel as Much as You Can

Travel while you're young and while you can. Life has a sneaky way of moving very quickly and before you know it, you're married with kids or you've landed the dream job, and traveling just isn't possible at the time.

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Traveling is a wonderful way to broaden your horizons, gain new perspectives, and create lasting memories.

Having traveling goals assists you with your personal growth and teaches you valuable life skills. You'll also be a way more relaxed person to be around. Think of all the different cultures and people you'll meet along the way.

So save up, and set time aside to travel, both locally and internationally.

14. Make a Home

No matter where you live, ensure you make your house a home. This is where you spend most of your precious personal time, and where all your special belongings are kept. Even though this might not be where you hope to end up in the next couple of years, you still have an emotional connection to this place.

Decorate your home the way you want it and make it your own. People visiting you will feel comfortable and welcome in your unique space.

15. Check in with Yourself and Others

Another powerful goal for a person in their twenties is to check in with yourself. It's easy to become overwhelmed while working or studying. So it's a great idea to stand still and ensure you're eating enough, resting well, and taking time out.

Doing this will help you stay focused and motivated. While you're at it, check in with your family and friends as well. This is a great way to improve your relationships and mood.

16. Read More

If you're looking for a goal that will enrich your life, reading more books is definitely for you. There are some excellent books out there that are geared toward helping you manage your financial affairs and providing insight into how the human mind works. 

Dive into the fantasy world, which is a great way to escape the real world for a little while.

Here's a list of some fantastic books you can look into:

17. Treat Yourself

Treating yourself and engaging in self-care will do you a world of good (and it's so necessary.) There's no better way to reduce anxiety, stress, or pent-up frustration than by taking the day off from your usual duties and responsibilities.

You'll feel like a brand-new person once you have completed your self-care routine, and the people around you will notice your lightness too. You'll feel energized and ready to take on anything the week throws your way.

18. Tend to Something

There's something rewarding about keeping something alive and knowing that without you, they won't be able to flourish. It's a big responsibility, and it brings out your nurturing side. You can tend to a pet (a goldfish is always a good idea) or something simpler like a pot plant (a petunia, snake plant, or African violet).

If you're nervous about the commitment involved, why not look after a friend's pet or water their garden while they're away and see how it goes?

19. Don’t Settle

Financially times are tough, and sometimes it's easier to settle for the first job offer or relationship that comes your way. The thing is, if you settle for something that doesn't make you happy or is less than what you hoped for, it can be challenging to leave.

Before you settle on anything (in work and love):

  1. Make sure you weigh the pros and cons.
  2. Don't be afraid to negotiate.
  3. Remember, in a job interview, as much as the employer is interviewing you, you're also interviewing them

Ask questions, stand up for yourself, and make good decisions.

20. Leave Your Comfort Zone

You have to leave your comfort zone as often as possible if you ever want to succeed. This is something I wish I had known when I was in my twenties. Experiencing life can be uncomfortable, but you'll become comfortable with it after you've done it enough.

Take that dance class or pursue that job. Whatever it is, don't hold yourself back because you're uncomfortable. Trust me when I say that you’ll miss out on so many things if you don't step out of your comfort zone now and then.

You only have 24 hours a day, and living under a rock is not the best way to spend those precious hours.

Final Thoughts on Goals for 20 Year Olds

I know its tough being in your twenties, and you probably have a lot going on right now. Just remember your goals don't need to be gigantic and far out there. There's no need for them to be displayed in neon flashing lights either (unless that's how you roll).

These are your goals, and you don't need to attach a stressful timeline to them. You are already accomplishing something as long as you keep pushing yourself toward a goal. These goals are designed to help you find focus and motivation in your life.

Yes, you are still young, but time waits for no one, and the things you do today will influence your future. So write your goals down, and get them done. Your future self will thank you for it.

If you benefited from these goal examples for 20-year-olds and want to add more goals to your list, check out our guide on 23 goal ideas for a better 2023. And if you'd like to try out some daily goals, be sure to check out our guide on the 17 daily goal examples to help you conquer the day.

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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