Allah says in Surat Allail: “Indeed, your efforts are diverse.” [Allail 4], which means that every individual devotes his effort into something different from the others, or each individual has different goals. Someone wants to be famous or popular, another one wants to be rich, and another wants to be a professional athlete or a scientist or wants to have a family…. etc.
So each person has a goal, a Muslim and a non-Muslim. But what makes a Muslim different is that his target or his main goal should be to enter Paradise in the hereafter, as he believes in the hereafter. A Muslim knows that Allah created us in this life as a test to worship him, Allah says: “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” [Az Zareyat 56], so his main concern must be the hereafter and how to enter Jannah.
Am I Saying that a Muslim must not have these types of goals?? NO, A Muslim can have any goal, but these are small goals compared to his main goal which is the Jannah, these small goals MUST lead to the main goal.
If your main goal is to establish a company of your own and you are still a small employee, what you will do is that you will try to improve yourself and work on specific points that will help you reach your main goal. It is like small bricks that construct a building in the end. This idea is the same with Muslims. They can have goals in life which will act as the bricks to construct the building which is the Jannah.
If someone wants to be rich, so he accepted bribes to get things done for people, this goal will not lead to his supposed main goal. If he wants to be an athlete, but he misses prayers because of the training, then this goal will not lead to the main goal. The same goes for the scientist who misses prayers, or does something that is harmful to humanity.
On the other hand, a Muslim can be an athlete because the prophet peace be upon him said: “A strong believer is better and dearer to Allah than a weak one, and both are good.”, he can be a scientist to benefit the humanity, and because the prophet peace be upon him said: “When a man dies, his deeds come to an end, except for three: A continuous charity, knowledge by which people derive benefit, pious son who prays for him.”. A woman who wears a hijab and wants to be successful in her work will give a good image about Islam to non-Muslims. Being a successful Muslim in itself is a way of Dawah, you are telling others what a Muslim should be.
How to make these life goals beneficial? By intension. It is your intention that will make you rewarded or punished for the same action. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him said:” ( the value of) an action depends on the intention behind it. A man will be rewarded only for what he intended. The emigration of one who emigrates for the sake of Allah and His Messenger is for the sake of Allah and His Messenger ; and the emigration of one who emigrates for gaining a worldly advantage or for marrying a woman is for what he has emigrated.”
If your main goal is to be famous or rich or happy or reach a great position, this is what you will have, and you will have nothing for the hereafter. If your main goal is the hereafter, you will set goals that make you reach your main goal, and you will be rewarded for it. Be precise and careful when you set your goals, and do what leads you to paradise.