Some people spend so much time thinking about their career and financial goals that they fail to set the foundation for achieving everything they want in life. You may think that if you take a certain action or realize specific accomplishments, you’ll feel satisfied when you look back on it all.
But you can’t achieve success without attaining something else first: a love of personal growth. When you focus on self-development, everything else will fall into place.
Setting character goals can be the first step in becoming the type of person who reaches all of their other goals. In this article, you’ll learn more about the character goals that we can all use to help us live with integrity, find fulfillment and excel in everything that we do.
What Does It Mean to Have Good Character?
Successful people aren’t always measured by how much money they make or the accomplishments that they achieve in their lifetime. You could be a billionaire who has launched several businesses and drives a swanky car, but do you have good character?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines character as “one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual.” You can have a positive or negative character. However, it’s often implied that someone with strong or sound character upholds moral virtues. In fact, one of the other dictionary definitions for this word is “moral excellence and firmness.”
When you have good character, you touch other people’s hearts. People remember you for your character traits.
You may place a different value on certain character attributes than your spouse or best friend does, but there are many personality traits that are judged universally as desirable and positive.
These character traits help you make friends. They improve your social standing. They make you respectable. They allow you to flourish.
If you have a great character, you:
- Are willing to say what you’re thinking
- Are willing to risk being incorrect
- Act the way you would want your children or loved ones to behave
- Live in a way that makes you a better person
- Serve as an example to others
- Take responsibility for your actions
Below, we list many of these traits and give you tips for setting goals that allow you to develop these characteristics so that you can live your life to the fullest.
A Healthy Competitive Streak
According to Inc., successful people are competitive. An unrestrained competitive quality can make you vindictive and narcissistic. However, you can get a leg up by being good-natured about your desire to win.
Working hard isn’t the answer to gaining an edge over the competition, although a strong work ethic is a character goal that you should strive to have. But if you don’t have your sights set on winning, will you ever achieve everything that you set out to accomplish?
Some people have trouble finding motivation if they don’t feel challenged. Friendly competition can help you reach your goals.
For example, Credit.org reports that some people aren’t inspired by a goal to save a certain amount of money by a particular deadline. Those same individuals may be more enthused if they’re determined to put aside more money than their spouse in a month, though.
A competitive drive allows you to find creative ways to get a leg up on everyone else so that you come out on top. Competition is an extrinsic motivator that gives you an external reward for your behavior.
Research suggests that extrinsic motivation isn’t always the best strategy to keep you striving for success. However, it has a place in your life and can help you gain momentum when you’re trying to achieve short-term goals.
One of the keys to nurturing your competitive nature is to rival yourself instead of other people. Pit yourself against your previous achievements. In this way, you’ll continue to grow.
If you compete against others, which is natural, that’s ok too. Just make sure that the competition is inclusive. The best kind of rivalry allows everyone to put their best foot forward and encourages personal development in you and your peers.
Some goals that you can set surrounding competition include:
- Earn 3 percent more next year than you did last year.
- Run for one more minute tomorrow than you did today.
- Reach out to three more clients next week than you did this week.
- Learn one new thing tomorrow.
- Reduce the number of mistakes that you make.
- Keep track of the new experiences that you have, and increase that number every week.
- Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.
The flip side of competition is cooperation. You have to utilize a generous amount of cooperation to be competitive. In fact, the “com” in “competition” means “coming together.”
A strong competitor allows their teammates to thrive while striving for the greater good, which implies that they’re also cooperative. Cooperation lets you bring your skills together with those of others to achieve a common good.
This means that you are aware of the way that you’re similar to others. When you cooperate, you see the bigger picture, imagining how your strengths can merge with those of your peers to bring about change or success.
According to bizfluent, cooperation is one of the most widely taught skills. Humans are social animals. If we don’t work together, we can’t fully embody our true nature.
You have to be willing to listen to others if you want them to hear you. Cooperation allows you to add to your current skill set. It doesn’t detract from your current strengths.
If you want to set some cooperation goals,
- Teamwork must be part of your culture.
- You need to pool your resources with others.
- You should set expectations with your peers.
- You need to learn cooperative communication.
Confidence is a character trait that will get you far. Everyone has insecurities. You may worry that you can’t move past your self-doubts. But confidence is a character trait that can be developed.
Setting and achieving goals is a sure way to improve your self-assurance. You don’t even have to set lofty goals to build up your pride. Every time you check something off of your to-do list, you’re showing yourself that you can accomplish what you set out to do.
Therefore, one of the surefire ways to build your confidence is to set micro-goals. Every morning, list three things that you want to achieve that day.
Don’t get ahead of yourself. Set goals that you know you can accomplish. You’ll pat yourself on the back every time you complete something. As time goes on, you can challenge yourself more so that you feel an even bigger rush of pride and are sure that you know what you’re doing.
You can also enhance your confidence in other ways, including:
- Doing new things every day
- Pushing past fears
- Stepping out of your comfort zone
- Standing up for yourself
- Following through on your intentions
- Do what makes you happy
Remember that when you’re worried or anxious, your body sends out the same neurotransmitters as when you’re excited. It doesn’t take much to transform insecurity into confidence. When you’re feeling apprehensive about something, your mind is probably holding onto thoughts about what could go wrong.
Shift your mindset by asking yourself, “What is possible if I do this thing?” Open yourself up to the infinite possibilities of success, and get excited about them. Practicing this repeatedly will enhance your self-confidence and make you feel like you can take on the world.
Don’t confuse confidence with skill. Of course, being prepared can help boost your confidence. If you’re confident, people may think that you’re more skilled.
Confidence often comes with practice. But confident people aren’t immune to insecurity. Instead, they use their uncertainties to drive their determination.
Insecurity can make you practice harder to hone your skills. It allows you to look at your limiting beliefs and change them.
As long as you don’t let your inner critic get the best of you, you can have insecurities and still be a confident person. It’s important to be honest and gentle with yourself if you want to work on your self-assurance.
According to Wikipedia, integrity is “The practice of being honest and showing a consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values.” When you have integrity, you’re also reliable because people know that you operate from a principled place. Although people’s morals may differ, there is general agreement on what constitutes right and wrong.
Some behaviors that are not in line with integrity include:
- Calling people names
If you don’t live with integrity in one part of your life, your lack of honor can leak into other areas. You can’t compartmentalize integrity.
But this character trait isn’t always clear. First of all, moral values are highly personal. Second of all, you might come across situations where helping one person hurts another. How do you decide on the best route?
Living with integrity ensures that you are behaving according to your truths. Don’t worry about what other people tell you what you should be doing; look at your internal moral compass, and live by its judgments.
Some tips for strengthening your integrity are:
- Satisfying your promises
- Keeping appointments
- Maintaining your commitments
- Becoming self-aware
- Using clear communication
- Surrounding yourself with people who have integrity
Loyalty involves more than being faithful to your loved ones. It involves being truthful to your values.
When you are loyal, you keep your promises. You keep your commitments.
Sometimes, loyalty involves putting others before yourself. You need to be supportive when it’s called for. You need to have the strength to avoid backing down just because you feel uncomfortable.
One way to hone your loyalty is to express yourself truthfully. When you tell others how you really feel, you can act according to your values while sticking by the people who need you. If something is bothering you, you can clear the air before you have to resort to negative behaviors, such as lying.
You can also be loyal by refraining from engaging in gossip. If you have judgments or questions about the way that someone is living their life, confront them directly instead of talking about them behind their back.
Finally, make it a goal to follow through with your commitments. Backing away from plans and being flaky makes you seem unreliable. If you’ve put your all into a goal, keep working toward it, especially when it involves someone else.
You may also need to stand up for others who aren’t in the same position that you are. When your loved ones need help, be there for them. That’s a clear-cut way to strengthen your loyalty.
People with good characters take responsibility for their actions. Even when you make a mistake, you own it. You don’t try to run away or shift the blame to someone else.
One way to take responsibility for your actions is to become aware of your behavior. You can’t control other people, but you can regulate your responses.
Acknowledging when you’ve behaved inappropriately also shows that you’re responsible for what you do. You can always say, “I did that, and I’m sorry.”
If you try to locate other people who are at fault, you’re wasting your energy. Spend your time looking at how you can improve yourself because you can’t control other people’s growth.
At the same time, when you do something positive, show gratitude and celebrate yourself. You are responsible for all of the great things you do as well as all of the mistakes that you make. If you don’t reward yourself for your accomplishments, you may also brush over the misdeeds that you do.
Practicing self-love is one of the best ways to hone your responsibility. When you have a healthy self-awareness, you can appreciate your strengths and work on your flaws. Be gentle with yourself even if you haven’t acted in accordance with your character.
You can be confident but retain a healthy dose of humility. Scott H. Young says that humility is more important than confidence. When you’re humble, you realize that you can always improve. Doing this presents you with as many opportunities for growth as possible.
You can’t always accept that you need to change if you don’t have humility. For example, being humble allows you to admit that the way that you’re doing things isn’t necessarily the best strategy. It’s only when you accept that there could be a better way that you can adopt techniques that will promote your strengths.
Humility also prevents your ego from getting involved in everything that you do. When you’re humble, failures don’t knock you to the ground. You can realize your faults without taking things too personally. You can adjust your behavior without letting your failures derail you.
You also embrace opportunities when you’re humble. If you’re too confident, you might believe that you already have everything you need. You may ignore possibilities that can enhance your life just because your ego tells you that you’re great.
You may be the most confident person in the world, but you always have room to grow. Humility allows you to see that at all times.
Compassion can transform reactive emotions, such as anger, into productive ones. It enhances your interpersonal connections. Compassion can also reduce anxiety and depression.
When you don’t have compassion, your mind can go into overdrive. You can overthink things and lash out at people without restraint. But all of that intense negative emotion can be draining.
Practicing compassion, on the other hand, can fill you up. It’s similar to forgiveness. You don’t have to agree with other people’s points of view to feel compassionate for them.
Research shows that compassion can benefit our physical health as well as our mental well-being. Some experts even think that humans have a gene that demonstrates that compassion is crucial to the survival of our species.
We may be hard-wired for kindness. That explains why working against compassion feels so exhausting.
If you find yourself having trouble accessing your compassion, rest easy knowing that this emotion can be cultivated. When you focus your meditation on being compassionate toward others, your brain activity shifts to an area that’s associated with happiness.
One way to practice this is to do the Metta, or loving-kindness, meditation. Set a goal to do this for five minutes a day for a week. Record the way that you feel every day, and see if it changes anything for you.
Some of the other benefits of practicing compassion are:
- It activates pleasure circuits in your brain and boosts your mood.
- It reduces the risk of heart disease.
- It lowers stress hormones.
- It makes you less vindictive.
- It improves your communication skills.
If you want to practice compassion, start with yourself. We’re often harder on ourselves than the people we love. If you can have compassion for yourself, you can use the same strategies to direct it toward others.
One way to practice self-compassion is to get in touch with your inner child. This innocent youngster is often filled with experiences that have caused shame and self-doubt. Tell your inner child that they have done nothing wrong. They just need to know that you love them and see them.
Practice this self-talk regularly. See if your compassion shifts because of it.
You can also practice compassion by putting yourself in other people’s shoes. Remember that everyone is often dealing with some kind of invisible hardship. You don’t know what’s going on behind someone’s walls. Be compassionate even if they’re not.
Finally, practice kindness without needing to please people. You don’t need to receive anything in return for your generosity. The act of opening your heart and releasing judgment and anger should make you feel good.
Being a good communicator is arguably one of the character goals that you already strive for. We communicate with people all the time, verbally and non-verbally. If we’re not in touch with our communication, we may be sending signals that we don’t want to transmit.
The non-violent communication model, developed by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D., requires you to notice:
- What you observe
- What you feel
- What you need or value
- The actions that you would like to take
It allows you to express your feelings and use conscious language to facilitate mutually beneficial results for all of the parties involved.
When you’re able to communicate effectively, you leave judgment, blame, guilt, threats and manipulation out of the picture. If you’ve worked on your other character goals, your communication skills should come easily.
However, you may not know what violent and non-violent communication are if you’re not aware of your own behavior. Being a good communicator involves cultivating self-awareness.
You also have to be an active listener to communicate effectively. Being able to voice your opinions and insights doesn’t do anyone any good if you’re not responding to what the other person needs.
That’s where compassion comes in. If you cultivate compassion in all that you do, you automatically listen with a considerate ear. You understand that everyone needs to be supported, and whether or not you can offer that support, you can take other people’s needs into account and be honest with your responses.
Authenticity may be the most important character trait. If you’re a good person and you live authentically, it’s hard not to have a good character.
You can make mistakes, but the failures that you experience will serve to improve your personality. Someone who lives authentically is honest. You can’t be fake when you live by your values.
When you can fully express the person that you really are, you rub off on other people. You show others that it’s ok to be real and have flawed. That’s because your authenticity reveals all of the other character goals that you’ve worked on.
When you’re authentic, you’ll demonstrate your resilience, compassion and integrity even when things go wrong. You won’t be afraid to be yourself. If that person is aligned with virtues of character, you’ll live every day as fully and honestly as you can.
One of the best ways to make sure that you’re always acting authentically is to trust yourself. If you’re living according to your deepest desires, if you’ve considered your values and made them a priority, you have no choice but to live authentically.
Yes, doing this can make you feel vulnerable. But once you realize that we are all humans living in the same boat, striving for similar goals and experiencing similar setbacks, your compassion kicks in and you realize that you can get the same kind of support from the authentic people with whom you surround yourself.
How to Develop Your Character
As you work toward your goals, you must also shift your character to remain aligned with those objectives. This doesn’t require a great transition. If your goals are congruent with your values, taking action toward them is the logical next step.
Have you been setting goals in your career, personal life, love life and other areas that aren’t getting met? The reason that you’re not reaching your targets might be because you need to go back to the foundation.
If your character traits are out of sync with your goals, you may never achieve your objectives. You may have to work on your discipline, compassion, confidence or resourcefulness before you can truly achieve success.
Don’t feel like you’re unproductive by focusing on building your character. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Once you recognize the areas that you need to work on, you can improve them. But if you are resistant to change, you may never optimize your character.
On the other hand, if you’re open to seeing where change needs to happen, you can strengthen your personal qualities. One way to do this is to look at your mistakes and failures.
Don’t look at them as negative. Instead, try to view your errors as feedback.
Every time something doesn’t turn out as you planned, you can ask yourself what someone with a particular character trait would have done in your situation. If there’s a major digression between the person you are and the traits that you’d need to succeed, you will know where you need to improve.
When you start working out, you might not be able to lift a 50-pound weight very easily. What do you do to work up to it? You train progressively.
Progressive training lets you gradually increase the challenge so that you continue to grow. You might have to change several variables to make sure that you work hard. For example, with exercise, you can change the amount of weight, length of time that you lift or the speed at which you perform the movements.
You need to do the same thing to challenge yourself on a personal level. If you want to improve your integrity, put yourself in situations in which it’s challenged.
You need to stretch yourself and push boundaries to grow.