Last Updated on April 28, 2021

30 Life-Altering Goals to Set for Yourself Before Turning 40

30 Life-Altering Goals to Set for Yourself Before Turning 40

Some people believe that once they’ve passed the age of 30, they’re too old to do something new and exciting, that it’s time for them to settle down. If you have found your dream job, and are clear about your purpose of life, then go ahead and live your best life! However, it’s never too late to dream a new dream and find some new goals to set for yourself.

The majority people focus on their careers and how much they need to earn, but there are certain things you should do to create unforgettable memories and make yourself proud of what you managed to accomplish.

While your goals will always depend on your specific personality and what appeals to you, taking on any of the goals below will help you find adventure, contentment, and challenges that will push you outside your comfort zone.

1. Visit a New Continent

A new continent means a whole new experience, different cultures, and tons of interesting people to meet. Everyone should visit another continent at least once in a lifetime in order to expand your mind and open yourself up to the possibility of overcoming fear and discomfort.

2. Travel to at Least 20 Countries

If you’re looking for goals to set for yourself before 40, you just can’t go wrong with travel. Each new country you visit is an original life lesson and unique memories. The more countries you travel to, the better you can compare them and draw conclusions from people’s behavior, culture, and rituals.

Furthermore, by spending time in different environments, we can learn a lot about ourselves.

3. Make at Least One Friend in Every Country You Visit

Traveling somewhere without making a new friend there is a huge loss. By interacting with local people, you may have a chance to learn about the secret facts of that very location and explore some mysterious places. What’s more, creating a bond with the locals creates an opportunity to revisit the country cheaper by being hosted by the people you’ve met.

4. Take a Spontaneous Trip

Without planning every single detail, pack all the necessary stuff and set off into the unknown as part of your list of goals to set for yourself. You don’t even have to leave your country; the key is to make it impromptu, face what life throws at you, and see how you handle it.

5. Learn a New Language

During an online Reddit conversation, Bill Gates revealed that one thing he always regretted was not learning a foreign language[1].

The best way to learn new skills like this, of course, is with boots on the ground in a new country, but even at home you can learn the basics using books, attending a course, or through online programs. And then, once you have a chance to speak with native speakers, this will be the moment when you learn the most.

This is one of those goals that can succumb to procrastination. If you find yourself struggling with this, check out Lifehack’s Fast Track Class – No More Procrastination. It will help you tap into your motivation to push forward each day with your goals.


6. Go Bungee Jumping

This idea may seem crazy to you, but it’s just a warm-up compared to the next one. Bungee jumping is an insane way to face your fears and do something that will test both your mental and physical determination. As for me, it’s a valuable lesson that emphasizes the fact that even the scariest things turn out to be tolerable once you go through them.

7. Go Skydiving

As I promised, this one is hardcore and a must-have on your list of goals to set for yourself before 40. Experience the unstoppable power of gravity, and see the world from a different perspective.

8. Face Your Worst Fear

Whatever you fear, it’s probably almost all mental. There are unlimited things to fear in the world and countless ways to face them for personal growth.

Start small, perhaps by simply looking at a photo of the thing you fear. Next, try coming face-to-face with it in real life. Soon enough, you may find you can look at it without increasing your pulse.

9. Stand on Top of a Mountain

Train for and schedule a trek to a peak. The view from the top is invaluable, and you’ll feel the power of nature and see how small we actually are compared to the natural forces around us. This goal is all about tapping into your inner power and appreciating the power of the nature around us.

10. Boost Your Financial Stability

Before you turn 40, becoming financially independent is one of the essential goals to set for yourself, as it will help you achieve your goals in the short term and long term. To avoid getting lost in debt and make the money work for you and not vice versa, you should devote some time to learning finances.

11. Create an Emergency Fund

Saving money regularly is a life-saving habit once you are in financial trouble. Most experts suggest your emergency fund should allow you to cover at least 3 months of living expenses. While you are busy making your dreams come true and doing new things, be aware that accidents do happen, so having financial security is definitely helpful to make solving any problem easier.

12. Create an Online Business on the Side

Nowadays, there are endless ways to make some extra money online. A legit method almost anyone can try out is monetizing your skills through creating an online course or e-book. It’s a great way to cover additional expenses and learn a bit of entrepreneurship from real life experience.

Maybe you’ll even be able to leave your 9–5 and create your dream lifestyle making money from any place in the world like digital nomads do.

To learn more, check out these 24 easy ways to make money on the internet.

13. Develop a Habit of Daily Exercise

The older you are, the more likely you are to lead a sedentary lifestyle. To avoid this, focus on creating healthy habits. There’s no excuse for not finding at least 20 minutes a day to exercise, whether it’s at the gym or a quick run around your neighborhood.


14. Start Eating Healthy

Diet-related problems are a huge concern in today’s world. More than one-third U.S. adults are obese, mostly because of unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Taking care of your eating patterns is mandatory to keep you going well past 40.

In a nutshell, choose unprocessed, whole products, and avoid junk food with huge amounts of sugar, salt, and fat.

15. Get in the Best Shape of Your Life

Educate yourself about nutrition, invest in a personal trainer, and commit to fully transforming your body. Once you are in the best shape of your life, go on a photo session so you can proudly show your grandchildren how shredded you once were.

16. Practice Self-Discipline

Self-discipline is an enormously useful skill when it comes to making your dreams become a reality. Without discipline, you can’t stick to your commitments and work towards the goals to set for yourself. Becoming a person with rules will have a positive impact on your future self.

17. Become a Morning Person

The majority of the most successful people swear by the power of being an early riser. Whether it’s CEOs, the world’s best athletes, or other outstanding individuals, most of them have a morning routine that highly contributes to their success.

A morning ritual empowers your day and gives you an advantage over the rest of the world, which still sleeps while you work to become a better self.

18. Read at Least 100 Books

Whatever your problem is, there is at least one decent book offering a solution. Books hold incredible value and knowledge. The sad fact is, however, more and more people prefer TV shows or video games.

Start to read at least one book a month, and you will have completed 12 books a year!

If you don’t know which books to choose, check out this list.

19. Write a Book

Many people feel they could write a book, but only the minority takes action and starts writing. The truth is, once you begin to write, you are a writer. Finishing a book is challenging, but the sense of satisfaction afterward is definitely worth it.

Pick a topic and devote 30 minutes a day to writing. In a year, or even sooner, you’ll not only drastically improve your language skills but also finish your first book.


Nowadays, when self-publishing has become more and more popular, you can release your work and maybe even discover that your calling turns out to be writing.

20. Write a Letter to Your Future Self

Make sure to include your dreams, expectations, and plans. Decide how much time needs to go by until you open your letter. Once you do it, it will be the moment of truth and a chance to see whether you became who you wanted to be.

21. Go Offline for a Month

Imagine no social media, email, or YouTube videos for the whole month. This 30-day challenge tests your ability to entertain yourself in a world ruled by technology, avoiding the Internet and computers completely. To make it even more spicy, cut off the television.

It’s a great opportunity to spend more time with your friends and family, focus on your passions, and read more books. It’ll even give you more time to add to your list of goals to set for yourself and break bad habits that technology may have led you to.

22. Take a Picture Every Day for a Year

I doubt there are many mementos better than this. Once the year is over, you create a time-lapse that shows portrait by portrait how you changed during the 365 days.

Watching it 20 years later will probably make you cry.

23. Make a List of Things That Make You Happy

You can have all the money in the world and a career that society considers successful, yet you can feel miserable. It’s because real happiness comes from experiences, self-realization, and contribution. While you discover the world checking off the things from this list, try to find out which environment makes you the happiest person in the world.

Whenever you face a hard moment, take out your happiness-list and start doing one of the things from it. As a result, the bad emotion will fade away much quicker.

24. Complete the Integrity Challenge

Integrity challenge is an idea from I borrowed from Joel Runyon[2]. Oftentimes, our actions don’t represent our thoughts and commitments. This weird phenomenon is most visible when a new year begins and most of the people fail to stick to their resolutions.

The way it works is simple. Choose one thing (ideally an uncomfortable task like daily jogging for 30 minutes, determine the timeframe (e.g. 90 days), and then just do your thing every single day without failing even once until you arrive at the finish line.

This test points out your weaknesses and questions your willpower. However, once you accomplish it successfully, it gives you a huge motivation boost to pursue more complex goals before you see 40.


25. Help Someone Improve Their Life

Our life isn’t only about ourselves but also about the people around us. There are many folks who really need help but are ignored by the majority of the society. Imagine supporting a homeless person with the goal in mind to make them a self-sufficient member of the community again.

If you feel miserable, be aware that giving back is one of the fastest methods to make yourself incredibly happy.

26. Donate to a Local Foundation

Imagine if everyone (who’s financially independent) donated a dollar a month to a foundation of choice. It seems small, but once you add up all the donations, the sum can make a huge difference in other people’s lives.

27. Stop Looking for Others’ Approval

This is an especially useful yet rare skill that should be part of the goals to set for yourself. We often care way too much about how others perceive us, which lowers your self-esteem and confidence, as well as makes you overthink otherwise simple choices. Abandoning the validation completely is tough, but it’s worth working toward it.

Once you accept the inevitable disapproval, you can become your true and authentic self. To get started, have a look at this post.

28. Learn to Say No

Saying no at the right moment is a habit that guarantees you a better life. However, the tendency in most people is quite the opposite. They say yes way too much and end up with unnecessary commitments and responsibilities that don’t add any value to their lives.

Now is when you should finally grasp that. There are plenty of things you don’t need to say yes to all the time.

29. Make a Piece of DIY Furniture

The “do it yourself” movement has grown in popularity, and some of the ideas people come up with are seriously unbelievable. Creating your own piece of furniture boosts your creativity, tests your manual skills, and saves you money. The satisfaction after putting your favorite books on a hand-made shelf beats any extravagant furniture purchase.

30. Spend a Night Under the Stars

As for me, watching the sky in the night is the best way to get the existential buzz. It’s a beautiful scenario to contemplate your life, plans, and the future. Pitch a tent in nature, make a bonfire, invite your loved ones, and fire up your imagination with the stars.

Final Thoughts

Leaving early adulthood can be a tough transition, but there are so many amazing goals to set for yourself before you hit 40 (and beyond). Pick out a few things from this list that really spoke to you and get started. Life doesn’t have to get boring, no matter your age.

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Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via



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Oskar Nowik

Oskar is a blogger and the author of "Brightening: The Positive Attitude That Will Change Your Life"

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Last Updated on June 16, 2021

What to Do If You Find Yourself Making Slow Progress Towards Your Goal

What to Do If You Find Yourself Making Slow Progress Towards Your Goal

If you are making slow progress on a goal you’ve set, maybe it is the wrong goal in the first place. Perhaps factors, including your attitude or environment, do not allow you to make your desired progress. However, it is easy to blame timing and luck; if you set a goal, you and only you are accountable for achieving it (read the achieve my goals guide). The question is, how?

Start With Why

On my career path, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to explore and learn things practically. After a successful corporate career, I spent two years trying to establish an entrepreneurial consultancy, only to realize marginal success.

The consultancy formed based on my core values, candor, curiosity, and collaboration, but unfortunately, my customer base and projects were seemingly random and disjointed. While I understood I needed to establish a consistent and repeatable approach to content marketing to drive my clients’ results, that approach was not apparent in the brand I had built. Things got so rough that I had to resort to collecting unemployment at the onset of the pandemic.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I delivered a webinar called earning trust in uncertain times: coronavirus edition. Afterward, I received an email from a participant. He shared some thoughts on a campaign for his jewelry company and asked for feedback. When I read his email, I realized I could quickly help him to gain clarity, so I sent him a note with an offer to get his message on track. He offered to pay me for my time, and I said to myself,

“I am adding value, and I can charge for this!”

This first client needed to shift my offerings from general marketing consulting to a more diversified career that focuses on personal brand building.

It took a global pandemic to realize I needed to shift my goals to align with the change I was trying to make in the world, to a new business, coaching that applies my skills in an authentic way to me and valuable to prospects and customers.


Start With Your Identity

James Clear discusses identity-based habits as deeply rooted in a person’s outlook toward life.[1] As a businessperson, identity-based practices are what impact business goals and your approaches towards achieving them. Identity is what you believe in, and outcomes determine what you seek to achieve. A permanent change comes from transforming the who part of behavior—the character.

Whether it is a coaching program I develop, a class I teach, or a marketing campaign I create, I always start identity. According to The Brookings Institute:[2]

Identity is a unique, inherited collection of assets, history, traits, and culture that distinguishes it internally and externally and can unite people and places.

But this logic also applies to personal goals. If losing weight is your goal, your focus is on an outcome rather than an identity-based plan, and you may lose motivation. Think, “Why am I trying to lose weight?”

  • Is it to be more healthy?
  • Did you get some lousy test results at the doctor?
  • Are you at risk of severe health problems?

It may help reframe your goal around a positive statement like, I am working to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. Motivation has to come from a place of confidence and belief in yourself. You know what they say about the air mask on the airplane – put it on yourself first.

It is ok to set goals for others; for example, “I am losing weight so I can live for my kids;” however, if you don’t set goals around themes that you can own, and you don’t do it for yourself first, then the people in your life will not receive any benefit.

Think about what you achieve from your efforts — the outcomes. The reality that you are looking at right now must also allude to the fact you promise to create for your clientele, and that is not possible unless you believe in it and make it believable for others.


Be Specific About What, How, and When

Your values need to align with other people and systems to engage in meeting your desired outcome, so make sure to put in place a process that accounts for what motivates you, that you can reliably complete until you achieve your goal.

If you are not specific and clear about how many pounds you are trying to lose and when you will lose then, then how will you know if you met your goal in the first place?

BJ FOGG, the author of Tiny Habits, suggests that you start small. In the Tiny Habits method, you always start with a tiny behavior. Some examples:

  • Floss one tooth
  • Read one sentence in a book.
  • Take one deep breath.

According to Fogg, an excellent tiny behavior has these qualities:

  • takes less than 30 seconds (even better: just 5 seconds)
  • requires no real effort
  • doesn’t create pain or destructive emotions

Make sure it’s a habit you want to have in your life. Don’t pick something that’s a “should,” choose new behaviors you wish to.

The next thing to learn is where to place the further tiny action in your life. Just like planting a seed, you want the right spot for it, a place where it fits naturally and where it can thrive.

Be flexible and adaptable. We are in a complicated and volatile world, and things change on a dime, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you need to change how you go about achieving your goal or even what goals you are trying to accomplish first place.


Be aware of bias. As you set out to achieve your goals, it is critical to be aware of the bias that can sneak in and sabotage your thinking. Yes, it is essential to collaborate with others to achieve your goals, but you need to understand yourself and make sure you are not getting in your way before doing that. Here are some common forms of bias.

  • Confirmation bias: People tend to listen more often to information that confirms the beliefs they already have.
  • Selection bias: Selecting individuals, groups that do not provide diverse perspectives for you to consider.
  • Self-serving bias: People tend to give themselves credit for successes but blame failures on external causes.

What about serendipity? Many of us believe that the great turning points and opportunities in our lives happen by chance, that they’re out of our control.

Dr. Christian Busch, author of The Serendipity Mindset: The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck, spent a decade exploring how, if acted upon, unexpected encounters can expand our random social encounters can enhance our worldview, expand our social circles, and create new professional opportunities.

Serendipity is usually about connecting dots that have previously remained elusive. Busch’s findings suggest that Good luck isn’t just chance—it can be learned and leveraged. When you are perceptive, curious, open-minded, and eager to see opportunities, others might see only negatively. If you notice something unusual but can connect that bit of information with something else, you are in the right mindset for achieving serendipity.

Motivation and a Realistic Plan

Only you can choose the goals you set. Motivation is critical in meeting your goals. But choosing goals is not enough; you need to select the right goals and define a plan that keeps you accountable for meeting your goals.

Author Gabriele Oettingen defined a methodology you can use to get better at achieving your hopes and dreams. It’s called WOOMP![3]

WOOP stands for:


  • W = Wish
  • O = Outcome
  • O = Obstacle
  • P = Plan

WOOMP, there it is! WOOMP will force you to be hyper-realistic about your goals and be action-minded in your approach to achieving them.

Show up Consistently

In order to turn your vision into reality, you will have to regularly show up by consistently organizing, leading, and building to get to your goals.

“Some people show up when they need something. Some people show up before they need something, knowing that it will pay off later when they need something. And some people merely show up. Not needing anything, not in anticipation of needing something, but merely because they can.” — Seth Godin

Final Thoughts

While I would be happy to be your trusted advisor and coach, the answer has to start with you. My process will help you to define and document an ownable set of values and marketing frameworks that will make you more appealing to clients/ employers, especially on LinkedIn. These values will translate beyond work, as well.

More on Making Progress

Featured photo credit: Aj Alao via


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