In our teens and twenties, navigating through life’s everyday challenges is usually enough to keep us busy and focused. But as we get a handle on “adulting” it’s not uncommon for us grownups to start looking around for ways to feel more fulfilled. Call it a mid-life crisis if you like, but it boils down to the same thing: we want our time on this planet to mean something, we want to feel fulfilled, and we want to leave a mark.

One of the most fulfilling endeavors—and a great way to stop that itchy, restless feeling—is seeking and achieving meaningful goals. And not just any goals, but goals that align with your passions. Building toward a meaningful goal not only invigorates your personal journey but also serves as an inspiration to those around you.

But what if you aren’t sure what your passions are? What if, in all that struggling to adult, you lost your idealism and now you can’t tap into it? Read on!

“Without some goals and some efforts to reach it, no man can live.”

— John Dewey

1. Identifying Your Passion
What activities or hobbies bring you the most joy? Perhaps gardening offers you a unique sense of peace, or painting gives you a burst of creative joy, or volunteering at an animal shelter mutes your personal worries and stresses.

Listen to those inner signals. They often hint at your true passions. If you’re not hearing anything, keep trying new endeavors. Take some time to get reacquainted with yourself. Make a list of your thoughts and feelings with each activity, and then prioritize them based on what resonates with you the most.

2. Aligning Passion with Purpose
Having a passion is fantastic, but coupling it with a purpose magnifies its impact. For instance, if painting is your passion, consider how you can use it to benefit others – maybe by painting murals in children’s hospitals or conducting art workshops for underprivileged kids. It’s about taking what you love and directing it towards a broader, more impactful goal.

3. Embrace Fear, But Act Strategically
Every new venture involves risk. Instead of shying away, acknowledge your fears and turn them into actionable steps. Do your research, consider potential outcomes, and then take the leap. Confidence often grows from taking controlled risks.

It also can’t be overstated how an impactful goal can inspire you and your tribe (because every person in pursuit of a meaningful goal needs a tribe) to be bold. We humans are less likely to fall into analysis paralysis when we’re saving someone else from the fire.

4. Setting SMART Goals
With passions identified and a direction in place, set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) goals. For instance, if you’re looking to launch an online boutique, set clear milestones, like completing all the platform training by month one, completing your branding package by month two, and dialing in your initial marketing strategy by month three.

“One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.”

— Michael Korda

5. Adopting a Growth Mindset
Inevitably, there will be setbacks. Adopting a growth mindset—where challenges are viewed as opportunities for growth rather than failures—will make all the difference. If one strategy doesn’t work, analyze, adapt, and move forward.

6. Build a Supportive Network
It’s essential to surround yourself with positive influences and people who share your enthusiasm. If you’re working on a goal with broad impact, this is doubly true.

Seek out mentors or industry experts. Join relevant groups or communities online and offline. Their guidance, combined with shared experiences, can provide invaluable insights and encouragement.

7. Prioritize Self-Care
In the pursuit of our goals, it’s easy to neglect personal well-being. But to lead and inspire others, you’ll need to protect your energy. Dedicate time for self-care. Whether it’s a weekly date, regular exercise, or simply reading a book, ensure that you’re scheduling the time to replenish your energy and maintain a healthy balance.

“You need to have unbound enthusiasm for what you’re building. Energy is contagious, so your team and everyone you interact with feels it.”

— Tyler Haney

As we crest the hill from our twenties into our thirties, we’re uniquely positioned to harness our experiences and drive towards fulfilling our goals. Discover your passions, plan with intent, take informed risks, and maintain a network of support. And while you’re at it, remember to take care of yourself. By doing so, not only do you light a fulfilling path for yourself but also inspire others along the way.