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We all have dreams we want to achieve. These can be big goals, like owning your own business, working for a Fortune 500 company or saving up for a trip around the world.
These can also be “smaller” inner goals examples – like finding inner peace, sticking to healthy habits, or learning to love yourself. The only exception is that these aren’t small at all, and they certainly aren’t less important than “big” dreams.
I’ve recently realized that with every goal you set, there are two components: outer goals and inner goals. Setting inner goals and achieving those helps you meet your outer goals, and knowing your external goals determines the internal goals you need to achieve.
But what are inner goals exactly? And what are the inner goals examples you need to set for yourself?
Why Are Goals Important?
Goals are important because they are like a map, giving us direction for where we want to go and showing us what we want from life. Specific goals improve motivation to go after what you want because you can measure your progress and keep yourself accountable. Goals promote personal mastery and success; you can only manage what you measure and improve as you learn more about yourself.
You can’t create a plan to get to your destination if you don’t know what you want to achieve. When you set goals for yourself, you have something to strive toward. You visualize your dreams and create your future.
As you focus on each step on the road to achieving your goal, your life becomes more structured and purposeful. You overcome procrastination, start organizing your time, and prioritize meeting your goal, all of which help you make the most of your life. You’ll feel fulfilled.
You also grow and develop, learn new healthy and positive behaviors, and gain momentum in your life as you pursue what you want.
If you are unsure where to start or a long-term goal seems too overwhelming at this stage, it’s always a good idea to start small. Set a short-term goal, make slow and steady progress, and soon, you’ll be at the finish line.
What Are Inner Goals and How Do They Differ from Outer Goals?
“Instead of seeking contentment by trying to change the external world, rather we should think about how to change ourselves (i.e. internally).”
~ William Irvine, A Guide to the Good Life
Inner goals go by many names. Some refer to them as internal goals, internal-facing goals, self-mastery or personal mastery goals. Either way, they mean the same thing… these are the goals we have the most control over.
The inner goals you set for yourself is an effective way to become more self-aware by gaining self-knowledge, which then helps you grow and develop. It is only when you know yourself that you can control yourself.
Let me use an example to explain.
One of my recent outer goals (or external goals) was to do well at a job interview. This isn’t something I have total control over because I don’t know the interviewer. They might ask out-of-the-box questions or their attitude on the day might be really off-putting.
My inner goal, however, is something I have control over. I control how my effort is directed. I wanted the job, which meant preparing for the interview beforehand, being professional during the interview (and afterward), answering the questions to the best of my ability, and showcasing my skills with my answers.
The interview didn’t go as well as I’d have liked, but I still met my inner goal – to do my best – because I did give my best.
This example also illustrates how inner goals are related to outer goals. You need to first set your inner goal and achieve it before an outer goal will come to fruition.
9 Inner Goals Examples
What kind of inner goals can (and should) you set for yourself? When you have great inner goals, your outer goals become so much more meaningful. These small inner goals help you achieve the massive outer goals you’ve been failing at … until now.
Here are the best inner goals examples to give you a place to start from:
Example #1. Living with Gratitude
Gratitude may seem like a massive goal that requires deep contemplation to achieve. It isn’t.
Gratitude is an attitude that is mastered on the inside. Your inner goal of living with gratitude is about seeing something to be grateful for in each moment, no matter how small or large that moment is.
You can practice gratitude daily by journaling or being mindful. Achieve your inner gratitude goal by reminding yourself that there is something in everything to be grateful for.
Example #2. Improve Your Growth Mindset
Having a fixed mindset holds you back in life and prevents you from achieving success. A fixed mindset is one where you believe that your innate qualities like intelligence and talent are fixed (aka can’t be changed). So if you don’t think you are good at math now, you think you’ll never be good at it.
A growth mindset is one where you believe your talent and intelligence can improve over time as you learn and practice. Setting an inner goal to develop a growth mindset helps you take risks, strive for bigger goals, and motivates you to achieve more because you continuously focus on improving.
Cultivate a growth mindset by:
Example #3. Focus on the Positive
In every situation, no matter how good or bad, successful or challenging, there’s something positive to focus on. The same goes for when you do fail – except that you are simply learning.
The famous quote about falling down 6 times and getting up 7 times should actually say, “I learned something new and persevered until I finally succeeded.”
So choose to focus on the positive as an inner goal. Look at what’s there to learn and how you can grow. Dust yourself off, and try again.
Example #4. Practicing Self-Awareness
When you are more self-aware, you have a greater chance to influence the outcome.
For example, practicing self-awareness is one of my inner goals, and in terms of outer goals, it has helped me make better decisions because I know what I bring to the table and even where my weak spots are.
Practice becoming more self-aware by:
Example #5. Finding the Best Path Through Stress
Life is filled with stress, and while you may have a few ideas in your head about how to deal with stress, it all boils down to how you see and interpret that stress. When you make it an inner goal to always look for a way through (not away from) the stress, you will take control of your life.
If you are faced with a stressful situation, your inner goal is to look for a road that will lead you forward. Use these strategies to build that inner goal of seeking a way through stress:
Example #6. Continuing Good Habits
Most of us dream of creating and sticking to good habits, but it’s often so easy to let factors outside our control derail us.
For example, your inner goal may be practicing the good habit you have of walking a minimum of 20 minutes per day. If there’s a cold snap, heatwave, or work doubles, it’s really difficult to stay on track with this healthy habit. But any movement is good, so you can take the stairs at work, walk laps around your living room and kitchen, and even do some other low-intensity workouts in the comfort of your own home.
When the weather normalizes, your inner goal will help you get back to your 20-minute walk so you can reap the benefits this has on your health and overall well-being.
Example #7. Staying Away from Bad Habits
Just like with starting and maintaining healthy habits, eliminating bad and unhealthy habits isn’t easy. But continuing with a bad habit, like procrastinating to get your work done until the deadline looms over you, prevents you from achieving your other outer goals.
Make an effort to stay away from these habits that hinder your growth by:
Example #8. Looking for Opportunities to Be Proactive
Being proactive and never giving up is the only way to get where you want to be in life. Make it an inner goal that you will work on your goal or follow your dream every day. Every small step is a step forward and in the right direction.
Practice proactivity by keeping track of your goal, assessing progress, staying motivated, and achieving objectives. Every small objective you achieve adds up, and before you know it, you’ll achieve your outer goal.
Example #9. Practicing Self-Love
For most of us, it seems selfish to love ourselves. And often, we are our own worst critic, which makes self-love particularly challenging.
Loving yourself means that you accept yourself – all the good and bad – and you put yourself first. By holding yourself in high-esteem, you intrinsically choose opportunities and journeys that serve and nurture you.
Practicing self-love is an inner goal example, and you can make it a habit to love yourself when you:
Final Thoughts on Inner Goals Examples
It’s essential to understand both your inner and outer goals because both of these complement each other. But it is only when you actively work on achieving your inner goals and what you can control that you can proactively pursue your outer goals.
It’s never a bad idea to start with short-term goals, especially if you aren’t yet sure about what long-term goals you want to achieve. This article on 27 short-term goal examples is the perfect starting point for making things happen!