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When I think about goals that I have made in the past, a common theme comes up. In hindsight, the purpose of my goals is typically to get something in the future that I didn’t have at the moment.
But once those goals were reached (or not), how did it really impact my life? Or how did I want it to impact my life?
I can tell you for all three of the (vague) goals listed above, the actual intended end result was to live a happier life in the future than I was living in that moment.
These are all external factors that I was chasing to ultimately achieve an internal goal. Now, this isn’t to say that goals in these life domains aren’t important, as they are critical to your success in any endeavor, but without focusing specifically on your spiritual goals, you can’t expect for them to be automatically fulfilled once your other needs are met.
Let’s look at some intentional actions you can take in order to grow internally and live your life with a better sense of purpose. But first, let’s look at the definition of a spiritual goal.
What is a Spiritual Goal?
Spiritual goals are any intentions that you have related to discovering your purpose and living a meaningful life. It doesn’t matter if you follow the teachings of Christ, Buddah, or you’re not religious at all. Setting a spiritual goal helps you connect to your spiritual side and gain clarity on the purpose of your life.
RELATED: 21 Examples of SMART Goals
Want to set goals you can actually achieve? Then watch this video that provides a quick overview of SMART goals with 21 examples.
Well, now that we’ve defined spiritual goals, let’s dive into the examples…
21 Spiritual Goal Examples to Help You Grow in 2023
1. Spread Kindness
Look for ways that you can help serve your community, especially by taking actions that promise no reward, such as helping someone who has their hands full or holding the door open for the person behind you.
2. Practice Gratitude
If you’re like me, you may go through periods of time in your life when you’re oblivious to all of the positive things that you have, or you fail to proactively consider them. There are so many ways that you can practice gratitude–and, according to Forbes, being grateful is quite possibly the topmost spiritual practice. Having gratitude helps us recognize value, dignity, and worthiness in everything, so you may actually consider it to be a remedy for many forms of suffering. Because of this, some have said that simply practicing gratitude can be its own form of spirituality.
3. Take a Leap of Faith
Spiritual growth requires taking a leap of faith every once in a while–regardless of what “faith” means to you. For example, rather than staying up late worrying about an upcoming event at work that you’re scheduled to host, try to relax a bit and let your plan of execution evolve on its own. Take a leap of faith and believe that you will be provided with the resources you need to succeed–whether that’s from God, another state of higher consciousness, or through your own values that define your spirituality.
4. Cultivate Solitude
There are several ways in which you can do this, whether it’s taking 10 minutes to meditate after each meal or choosing one day per week to be completely screen-free. Philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche once said, “Solitude makes us tougher toward ourselves and tenderer toward others; in both ways it improves our character.”
Spend some time doing self-reflection and allowing your thoughts to come and go. During this sense of calm, you may find answers to important questions in your life.
5. Spread Love Everywhere You Go
This is the advice of Mother Teresa, who taught, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.”
Hate is born out of fear. When you feel unsafe, you go into a fight, flight, or freeze mode. You may develop the mindset that resources are lacking during a time of turmoil, so you hoard things and isolate yourself from people. You join with others who are afraid so you’re not confronted with information that conflicts with your point of view.
On the other hand, people who can spread love are confident in their coping skills, which allows them to move past fear into a place of love and understanding. Differences in opinion become interesting instead of feeling threatening. Those who spread love look outward for new resources, information, and problem-solving strategies, and it’s these people who will solve the problems of others who have a propensity for hate.
6. Get Your Priorities Straight
I just looked at my “digital wellbeing” on my phone, which tells me that I spent a total of 3 hours and 33 minutes using the device today. About 45 of those minutes were for work–but,considering I don’t remember anything else I really used my phone for today–the rest was probably time wasted.
I do value priorities a lot, so I hate to use myself as an example, but my sample size = 1. There are 2.8 hours of my day that are essentially unaccounted for. However, if I had been more intentional about living in line with my priorities, I would have placed a higher value on that time. I would have spent less time during the day on unproductive tasks when I knew my daughter (my #1 priority) would be home in the evening. This way, I would have finished all of my work for the day and therefore would have been able to give my daughter my undivided attention at night.
You will bring more peace, happiness, and self-reward into your life if you live in line with your values. Identify the things in your life that are important and the things that aren’t.
7. Meditate on a Daily Basis
Meditation and spirituality really work together. Being in tune and feeling a connection with something bigger than yourself–or a higher realm of some sort– can be achieved by meditating. When you meditate on a regular basis, you won’t only be giving yourself an opportunity to gain clarity, you will also be able to work toward connecting with your highest self.
8. Make Your Own Choices
You have to exercise your freedom to choose your attitudes and your actions. You have as much control over feeling frustration as you do acceptance. You can choose love over hate and forgiveness over seeking revenge. You can choose to learn and grow from your mistakes or to give up. Keep in mind that a crisis can bring out the best or worst in anyone, and that choice is up to you.
9. Show Empathy to Others
Living with a sense of empathy means being able to consciously relate to others with your own life experiences. This creates a new level of patience and compassion toward other people that may lead to more helping behaviors to relieve other people’s suffering.
10. Practice Tolerance
Another part of having empathy is practicing tolerance for others. To be more tolerant, put yourself in their shoes to try to understand another point of view. You can also practice tolerance by asking another person to explain their beliefs or perspective. Try to look at your similarities with others rather than your differences–chances are, you have more in common than not.
11. Go on a Mission Trip
Going on a mission trip is a very good way to grow spiritually, especially if you take lessons home with you that change your everyday way of life. Going on a mission trip will help take you out of your comfort zone and allow you to be a part of something that is bigger than yourself. It will also help you make a difference to people in a way that you may never truly understand.
12. Join a Bible Study
If you express your spirituality through religion, join a Bible study or another organized group who can work with you on translating ancient texts into our modern times. Even as your group reads the same words, hearing others’ interpretations or how they’re impacted by the stories and lessons can help you grow.
13. Incorporate Rituals Into Your Life
Plan to incorporate spiritual habits–or rituals– into your day. These don’t have to be major, formal rites of a specific system of faith–just small, repeated daily actions that relate to your spirituality.
Performing rituals is an effective method of getting your mind used to being in a spiritual mode. Plan to create small (but meaningful) habits, such as praying before meals, doing evening devotionals, reading spiritual books or scriptures, or anything else that helps you feel spiritual. Small changes can easily add up to make a big difference in your life.
14. Practice Self-Care
Engaging in self-care allows you to nurture your sense of connection and meaning in your life. It is just as important to nourish your soul with spirit as it is your body with water and food. Find an activity that is meaningful to you and don’t think of it as an indulgence, think of it as sustenance for your wellbeing. Engaging in self-care will help you live a more balanced life.
15. Get Clear on Your Beliefs
What do you actually believe? I’m not asking what your family believes or what most of your community believes. What do you believe? What collection of truths, guides, and observances lead you to feeling a sense of peace? What encourages you to live a kind and welcoming life that fills you with wonder and joy?
This might be a harder question to answer than you think, even if you’re devoted to a specific faith. And, if you do follow an organized religion, there are certainly going to be some lessons that resonate with you more than others. It’s important to have clarity on the principles that you’re basing your daily life on–because the truth is, you can’t practice your beliefs if you aren’t sure what those beliefs are.
Read, research, talk to other people. Fuel your mind with as much information as you can by joining an online community or taking some classes. Don’t stop until you’re confident in your beliefs.
16. Write in a Journal
Once you’re clear on your beliefs, it’s important to keep track of how you’re adhering to them in your daily life. Are you doing things that conflict with your views? How could you increase the cohesion of your actions and your spiritual beliefs?
Set aside time every day for intentional reflection and writing so you can assess where you’ve been and where you’re going. You could find these reflective moments of journaling actually challenge the beliefs you once felt so sure about. But don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you failed, you’re just finding a deeper sense of clarity.
17. Let Go of Your Vices
If you tend to overindulge in unhealthy actions or you find that you care too much about trivial things (such as video games, celebrity gossip, etc.), you’re likely to realize that this is impeding your spiritual journey. Start to let go of your bad habits and replace them with meaningful hobbies that are in line with your spiritual beliefs.
18. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a secular tool that can give more meaning to your spiritual path. Practicing mindfulness involves living in the moment and observing your own human experience through all five of your senses. There are many spiritual benefits to living mindfully, such as:
19. Promote Peace
A spiritually attuned life is one filled with both inner and outer peace. Therefore, an advantageous goal is to identify ways to make your relationships, thoughts, and actions more peaceful.
What are the sources of conflict in your life? Work to ease tensions in these areas to advance your spiritual growth.
This doesn’t mean you should accept poor treatment, it simply means you should avoid unnecessary negativity and set firm boundaries on the things you will and will not tolerate.
20. Observe the Interconnectedness of All Things
A large part of your spiritual life necessitates looking inwards, but it’s equally important to look at your surroundings and realize you don’t live in isolation. You are, in fact, dependent on other people and things in your life.
Everything is interconnected in ways that are often not seen or appreciated. Oxygen, food, a sense of enjoyment–these are all products of the same world that we are connected to. Even your computer screen (or smartphone) is an extension of human life, as it’s made by resources that people rely on.
You’re connected to people, materials, and supplies in a significant way that touches your life and the lives of other people. This is an enlightening realization in a lot of ways, and certainly one that can move you to take your spiritual actions, beliefs, and thoughts to a new degree.
For some inspiration, here's a list of the best enlightenment apps to help your spiritual journey.
21. Restore Another Person’s Spirit
Make some time to help a person in dire need of support in some way. Help to heal a wounded heart, extend grace to someone who needs a break, or help someone put the pieces back together of their shattered dream. Help someone else on their spiritual journey.
Final Thoughts on Spiritual Goals for 2023
At the end of the day, your spiritual goals are up to you to determine. But these examples are a good place to start to nurture or begin to practice a more spiritual life. Hopefully this has given you some good ideas that will send you in the right direction.
Remember to re-evaluate your spiritual goals every so often to see your progress and determine how far you are from reaching them. Your spiritual journey may last a lifetime, as it may continue to evolve with new life experiences. Change won’t happen overnight, but by making small changes such as those listed in this article, you can work up to reaching the spiritual goals that you establish.
If you need some inspiration, listen to these Christian motivational speakers. Or if you are a pastor or minister looking to grow your congregation, check out these examples of SMART goals for churches and ministries.
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.
Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.