Personal goals and subjective well-being in later life

Int J Aging Hum Dev. 1997;45(4):287-303. doi: 10.2190/HU3J-QDHE-LT1J-WUBN.


With a sentence completion technique, 708 elderly participants (65 to 90 years of age) expressed 15,027 personal aspirations. These goals were classified according to their motivational content in ten major categories and their relationships with various aspects of subjective well-being were studied. Two goal profiles emerged from this analysis. Aspirations centered on self-preservation were associated with poor self-rated physical health, being burden by difficulties, lack of meaning to life, dissatisfaction with life, and negative expectations for the future. Aspirations of self-development and interest in the well-being of others were associated with feelings of well-being in later life. Development of meaningful personal goals was discussed as as a new intervention approach with the elders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires