Self-regulation refers to the extent to which people influence, modify, or control their own behavior (including thoughts and feelings) according to goals or standards. Goals are a key concept in models of self-regulation as they direct and guide cognition and behavior over time and across situations and thereby help to organize and structure perception, thought, and behavior into meaningful action units. However, the setting and pursuit of goals also requires self-regulation. Although the self-regulatory function of goals does not seem to change with age, the way goals are set and pursued does. The current article elaborates these processes in the framework of the model of selection, optimization, and compensation. Adapting to life-span changes in the availability of resources that are necessary for goal achievement, adults shift their primary goal orientation from the attainment of gains to the maintenance of functioning and the avoidance of losses. Moreover, goal focus appears to shift from a stronger focus on the outcomes of goal attainment to a stronger focus on the process of goal pursuit. These shifts in goal orientation and goal focus help self-regulation when faced with developmental goals and contexts requiring the optimization of functioning and performance in young adulthood, and the compensation of impending or actual decline and losses in later phases of adulthood.