Goal Setting

Goal Setting

"If you don't know what you want, you will probably never get it."
— Oliver Wendell Holmes

College students need to have stated academic and career goals. These goals need to be achievable in a realistic amount of time. The goals you set need to be put into measurable, specific terms, and they must be your own. No one else can set them for you. Believe in your ability to achieve your goals, and utilize positive self-talk.

Look Into Your Crystal Ball

Start by thinking about your long-term goals — where do you want to be/what do you want to be doing 5 to 10 years from now? Think through your lifetime goals. Visualize yourself after achieving your goals — what does your life look like? Who is in it? Where do you live? What are you doing? Work backward from the future, and think about what you can do today to make that picture a reality

Right Here, Right Now

What do you need to do in the here and now to have that life and that career? Define your short-term goals:
  • Set a goal for this semester.
  • Identify potential stumbling blocks. What strategies will you use to prevent or overcome those obstacles?
  • What are the rewards for successfully reaching your semester goal (internal or external)?

Talk Isn’t Cheap

State each goal as a positive statement — “I will finish all my courses with a ‘B’ average” versus “I won’t be stupid and fail or drop a class.”
Be precise — put in dates, times, amounts or other measures of success. “I will study more this week” is too broad, but “I will study for Biology two hours a day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of this week by doing _________.” is exact.
Set priorities — if you have several goals, give each a priority based on when they need to be accomplished.

Managing Your Life, Managing Your Time

You are entering a new chapter of your life, so it’s going to take some rewriting/editing. It’s easy to let trivial tasks distract you from important ones. Demands of others who want things to stay the same can also be distracting.

Make a list in two columns:
  • What are your major goals (in education and in life)?
  • What’s on your to-do list?
If what’s on your to-do list has little to do with your goals, then you have a problem. You’ll need to rearrange your time and look at what needs to be eliminated, reduced or delegated to someone else.

How to Set Goals

  1. Define the goal.*
  2. Outline the steps needed to achieve it.
  3. Consider possible blocks and ways of dealing with them.
  4. Set deadlines.
*Not every wish can be a goal. For instance, you may wish you could live and stay young forever, but since there's nothing you can do to make that happen, it could never be considered a goal.

In order for something to be a goal, it:
  • Must be important to you, personally.
  • Must be within your power to make it happen through your own actions.
  • Must be something you have a reasonable chance of achieving.
  • Must be clearly defined and have a specific plan of action.

Where Can I Use the Goal-setting Techniques?

Goals can provide balance, a sense of direction and help you to develop focus and a sense of purpose. Goal setting can be used in all parts of your life. Goals can focus on: education, spirituality, finances, health, social life, hobbies, athletics, careers, relationships, family, public service or personal attitude.

What Do We Know About Goal Setting?

Goal setting provides motivation, helps us to recognize our abilities, is more than daily checklists, gives us a sense of the big picture, helps us to set priorities, helps us organize our time, gives us a sense of pride, gives us a sense of ownership, builds our self-image, needs action steps, needs a timetable, teaches us what is important, provides inspiration, helps us develop a plan, helps us focus, helps us turn our dreams into reality, and helps us become enthusiastic.


Goal Setting Worksheet
Link to worksheet