List of common human goals

List of com­mon goal ar­eas:
This list is meant to be in the area of goal-space. It is non-ex­haus­tive and the de­scrip­tions are in­clud­ing but not limited to—some hints to help you un­der­stand where in the idea-space these goals land. When con­struct­ing this list I try to imag­ine a large venn di­a­gram where some­times they over­lap. The ar­eas men­tioned are ar­eas that have an ex­clu­sive part to them; i.e. where some­times knowl­edge over­laps with self-aware­ness there are parts of each that do not over­lap; so both are men­tioned. If you pre­fer a more “fo­cussing” or feel­ing base de­scrip­tion; Imag­ine each of these goals is a ham­mer, de­signed with a spe­cific weight to hit a cer­tain note on a xy­lo­phone. Often one ham­mer can pro­duce the note that is meant for that key and sev­eral other keys as well. But some­times they can’t quite make them sound perfect. What is needed is the right ham­mer for that block to hit the right note and make the right sound. Each of these “ham­mers” has some note that can­not be pro­duced through the use of other ham­mers.

This list has sev­eral pur­poses:

  1. For some­one with some com­pleted goals who is look­ing to move for­ward to new hori­zons; help you con­sider which com­mon goal-pur­suits you have not ex­plored and if you want to try to strive for some­thing in one of these di­rec­tions.

  2. For some­one with­out clear goals who is look­ing to cre­ate them and does not know where to start.

  3. For some­one with too many spe­cific goals who is look­ing to con­sider the essences of those goals and what they are re­ally striv­ing for.

  4. For some­one who doesn’t re­ally un­der­stand goals or why we go af­ter them to get a bet­ter feel for “what” po­ten­tial goals could be.

What to do with this list?

0. Agree to in­vest 30 min­utes of effort into a goal con­fir­ma­tion ex­er­cise as fol­lows.
  1. Go through this list (copy paste to your own doc­u­ment) and cross out the things you prob­a­bly don’t care about. Some of these have over­lap­ping solu­tions of pro­jects that you can do that fulfils mul­ti­ple goal-space con­cepts. (5mins)

  2. For the re­main­ing goals; rank them ei­ther “1 to n”, in “tiers” of high to low pri­or­ity or gen­er­ally or­der them in some way that is co­her­ent to you. (For se­ri­ous quan­tifi­ca­tion; con­sider giv­ing them points—i.e. 100 points for achiev­ing a self-aware­ness and un­der­stand­ing goal but a plea­sure/​cre­ativity goal might be only worth 20 points in com­par­i­son) (10mins)

  3. Make a list of your on­go­ing pro­jects (5-10mins), and check if they ac­tu­ally match up to your most prefer­able goals. (or your num­ber rank­ing) (5-10mins) If not; make sure you have a re­ally re­ally good ex­cuse for your­self.

  4. Con­sider how you might like to do things differ­ently that pri­ori­tise your cur­rent plans to fit more in­line with your goals. (10-20mins)

  5. Re­peat this task at an ap­pro­pri­ate in­ter­val (6monthly, monthly, when your goals sig­nifi­cantly change, when your life sig­nifi­cantly changes, when ma­jor pro­jects end)

Why have goals?

Your goals could change in life; you could ex­plore one area and re­al­ise you ac­tu­ally love an­other area more. It’s im­por­tant to ex­plore and keep con­firm­ing that you are still win­ning your own per­sonal race to where you want to be go­ing.
It’s easy to in­sist that goals serve to only dis­ap­point or bur­den a per­son. Th­ese are en­tirely valid fears for some­one who does not yet have goals. Goals are not set in stone; how­ever they don’t like to be mod­ified ei­ther. I like to think of goals as do­ing this:

(source: in­ter­net viral images) Pic­tures from the In­ter­net aside; The best rea­son I have ever rea­soned for pick­ing goals is to do ex­actly this. Make choices that a rea­son­able you in the fu­ture will be mo­ti­vated to stick to Out­source that plan­ning and think­ing of goal/​pur­pose/​di­rec­tion to your past self. Nat­u­rally you could feel like mak­ing goals is piling on the bricks (but there is a way to make goals that do not leave them piling on like bricks); you should think of it as res­cu­ing fu­ture you from a day spent com­pletely lost and won­der­ing what you were do­ing. Or a day spent ques­tion­ing if “this” is some­thing that is get­ting you closer to what you want to be do­ing in life.

Below here is the list. Good luck.


Spiritu­al­ity—re­li­gion, con­nec­tion to a god, med­i­ta­tion, the prac­tice of grat­i­tude or ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the uni­verse, bud­dhism, feel­ing of a greater pur­pose in life.

Knowl­edge/​skill + Abil­ity—learn­ing for fun—just to know, ad­vanced ed­u­ca­tion, be­com­ing an ex­pert in a field, be­ing able to think clearly, be­ing able to perform a cer­tain skill (phys­i­cal skill), abil­ity to do any­thing from run very far and fast to hold your breath for a minute, Find­ing ways to get into flow or the zone, be more ra­tio­nal.

Self-aware­ness/​un­der­stand­ing—to be at a place of un­der­stand­ing one’s place in the world, or have an un­der­stand­ing of who you are; Prac­tis­ing think­ing in eclec­tic per­spec­tives for var­i­ous other peo­ple and how it effects your un­der­stand­ing of the world.

Health + men­tal—hap­piness (mind­set) - Do you even lift? http://​​the­fu­turepri­mae­​​why-we-even-lift/​​, are you fit, healthy, eat­ing right, are you in pain, is your mind in a good place, do you have a pos­i­tive in­ter­nal voice, do you have bad dreams, do you feel con­fi­dent, do you feel like you get enough time to your­self?

Live for­ever—do you want to live for­ever—do you want to work to­wards en­sur­ing that this hap­pens?

Art/​cre­ativity—gen­er­at­ing cre­ative works, in any field—writ­ing, paint­ing, sculpt­ing, mu­sic, perfor­mance.

Plea­sure/​recre­ation—are you en­joy­ing your­self, are you re­lax­ing, are you do­ing things for you.

Ex­pe­rience/​di­ver­sity—Have you seen the world? Have you ex­plored your own city? Have you met new peo­ple, are you get­ting out of your nor­mal en­vi­ron­ment?

Free­dom—are you tied down? Are you trapped in your situ­a­tion? Are your bur­dens stacked up?

Ro­mance—are you en­gaged in ro­mance? could you be?

Be­ing first—You did some­thing be­fore any­one; you broke a record, It’s not be­cause you want your name on the plaque—just the chance to do it first. You got that.

Create some­thing new—in­vent some­thing; be on the cut­ting edge of your field; just see a dis­cov­ery for the first time. Where the new-ness makes cre­at­ing some­thing new not quite the same as be­ing first or be­ing cre­ative.

Im­prove the tools available—sharpen the axe, write a new app that can do the thing you want, in­vent sys­tems that work for you. pre­pare for when the rest of the work comes along


Le­gacy—are you leav­ing some­thing be­hind? Do you have a name? Will peo­ple look back and say; I wish I was that guy!

Fame/​re­nound­ness—Are you “the guy”? Do you want peo­ple to know your name when you walk down the street? Are there gos­sip mag­a­z­ines talk­ing about you; do peo­ple want to know what you are work­ing on in the hope of steal­ing some of your fame? Is that what you want?

Lead­er­ship, and mil­i­tary/​con­quer—are you climb­ing to the top? Do you need to be in con­trol? Is that go­ing to make the best out­comes for you? Do you wish to de­stroy your en­e­mies? As a leader do you want peo­ple fol­low­ing you? Do as you do? Peo­ple should re­vere you. And power—in the com­plex; “in con­trol” and “flick the switch” ways that over­lap with other goal-space ar­eas. Of course there are many forms of power; but if its some­thing that you want; you can find fulfil­ment through ob­tain­ing it.

Be­ing part of some­thing greater—The op­por­tu­nity to be a piece of a big­ger puz­zle, are you bring­ing about change; do we have you to thank for be­ing part of bring­ing the fu­ture closer; are you mak­ing a differ­ence.

So­cial—are you spend­ing time so­cially? No man is an is­land, do you have reg­u­lar so­cial op­por­tu­ni­ties, do you have ex­plo­ra­tory so­cial op­por­tu­ni­ties to meet new peo­ple. Do you have an es­tab­lished so­cial net­work? Do you have in­ti­macy? Do you have seek op­por­tu­ni­ties to have soul to soul ex­pe­riences with other peo­ple? Authen­tic con­nec­tion?

Fam­ily—do you have a fam­ily of your own? Do you want one? Are there steps that you can take to put your­self closer to there? Do you have a pet? Hav­ing your own offspring? Do you have in­ti­macy?

Money/​wealth—Do you have money; pos­ses­sions and wealth? Does your money earn you more money with­out any fur­ther effort (i.e. own­ing a busi­ness, earn­ing in­ter­est on your $$, in­vest­ing)

Perfor­mance—Do you want to be a pub­lic performer, get on stage and en­ter­tain peo­ple? Is that some­thing you want to be able to do? Or do on a reg­u­lar ba­sis?

Re­spon­si­bil­ity—Do you want re­spon­si­bil­ity? Do you want to be the one who can make the big de­ci­sions?

Achieve, Awards—Do you like gold medal­lions? Do you like to strive to­wards an award?

In­fluence—Do you want to be able to in­fluence peo­ple, change hearts and minds.

Con­for­mity—The de­sire to blend in; or be nor­mal. Just to live life as is; with­out be­ing un­com­fortable.

Be treated fairly—are you get­ting the raw end of the stick? Are there ways that you don’t have to keep be­ing the bad guy around here?

Keep up with the Jone­ses—you have money/​wealth already, but there is also the goal of ap­pear­ing like you have money/​wealth. Be­ing the guy that other peo­ple keep up with.

Val­i­da­tion/​ac­knowl­edge­ment—Pos­i­tive Feed­back on emo­tions/​feel­ing un­der­stood/​feel­ing that one is good and one matters


Im­prove the lives of oth­ers (helping peo­ple) - in the char­ity sense of rais­ing the low­est com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor di­rectly.

Char­ity + im­prove the world - in­di­rectly. putting money to­wards a cause; lobby the gov­ern­ment to change the sys­tems to im­prove peo­ple’s lives.

Win­ning for your team/​tribe/​value set—do­ing ac­tions but on be­half of your team, not your­self. (where they can be one and the same)

De­sired world-states—make the world into a de­sired al­ter­na­tive state. Don’t like how it is; are you driven to make it into some­thing bet­ter?

Other (and nega­tive stim­uli):

Ad­dic­tion (fulfil ad­dic­tion) - ad­dic­tion feels good from the in­side and can be a mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tor for do­ing some­thing.

Vir­tual re­al­ity suc­cess—own all the cur­rency/​coin and all the cookie click­ers, grow all the lev­els and get all the ex­pe­rience points!

Re­venge—Get re­tri­bu­tion; take back what you should have right­fully had, show the world who’s boss.

Nega­tive—avoid (i.e. pain, loneli­ness, debt, failure, em­bar­rass­ment, jail) - where you can be mo­ti­vated to avoid pain—to keep safe, or avoid some­thing, or “get your act to­gether”.

Nega­tive—stag­na­tion (avoid stag­na­tion) - Stop stand­ing still. Stop sit­ting on your ass and DO some­thing.


This list be­ing writ­ten in words; Will not mean the same thing to ev­ery reader. Which is why I tried to in­clude sev­eral cat­e­gories that al­most over­lap with each other. Some no­table over­laps are: Le­gacy/​Fame. Be­ing first/​Achieve­ment. Be­ing first/​skill and abil­ity. But of course there are sev­eral more. I re­ally did try to keep the cat­e­gories open and sev­eral; not sim­plified. My anal­ogy to ham­mers and notes should be kept in mind when try­ing to im­prove this list.

I wel­come all sug­ges­tions and im­prove­ments to this list.

I wel­come all feed­back to im­prove the do-at-home task.

I wel­come all life-chang­ing re­al­i­sa­tions as feed­back from ex­am­in­ing this list.

I wel­come the op­por­tu­nity to be told how wrong I am :D


This doc­u­ment in to­tal has been 7-10 hours of writ­ing over about two weeks.

I have had it re­viewed by a hand­ful of peo­ple and less­wrongers be­fore post­ing. (I kept re­al­is­ing that some­one I was talk­ing to might get value out of it)

I wrote this be­cause I felt like it was the least-bad way that I could think of go­ing about

find­ing these ideas in the one place

shar­ing these ideas and this way of think­ing about them with you.

Please fill out the sur­vey of if this was helpful.

Edit: also in­cluded; (not in the com­ments) de­sired world states; and live for­ever.

Edit My table of con­tents.