What I would say when setting goals is to make sure that the goals are SMART.
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable/Achieveable
R = Realistic
T = Time-bound
E.g. I want to pass my practical
driving test by the end of August.
This goal is specific and clearly measurable. You either pass the driving test or you don’t. Only the person setting the goal can determine how realistic it is i.e. have they had enough lessons to meet the end of August deadline? Time-bound means you have to set a deadline for achieving the goal otherwise you run the risk of never achieving it. Also, setting a deadline gives you something to work towards to in terms of completing the goal.
I think setting goals is good as it helps us grow and learn. There is such a sense of accomplishment when you look back over a year and can see progress you have made in certain areas of your life.
Finally, I would say, goals should be personal to you. Don’t set goals that other people have; choose goals that are personal to you. It can also help to have an accountability partner or partners, someone or people who can check on your progress and help you stay focussed on your goal.
Anita recommends the following next steps:
It's okay if the outcome doesn't come our the way you envisioned. It's about what you learned and gained from the goals you set.
Some common goals that I see most of the people that I know that are in college are:
-finding out what major they want to do
-volunteering to get job references and experiences in a certain field
-getting a part time job or work study
-an extra curricular activity
I think that everyone is going to have a different approach to how they decide what goals they should strive for, and that's great! I'm a big fan of learning as much as I can from different people and cherry-picking their best ideas, so I'll share how I figure out what goals I want to be working toward, and hopefully you might be able to cherry-pick whatever resonates most with you.
I personally have three levels of goals: the long-term goals (5 or more years out), the intermediate goals (2-4 years out), and the immediate ones (up to a year or two).
Long-term goals are all about the type of person I want to be, where I want to live, and what I want to be doing. Every year or so, I try to sit down and really think about what I want my life to look like in 5 years. Picture it for yourself: you're five years older, and you are happy and satisfied with how things are turning out for you. What does that look like? For me, I really want to be financially secure, I want to buy a house instead of continuing to rent my one-bedroom apartment, and I want to be surrounded by a strong social network of friends. My long-term goals are:
- Buy a house
- Build and nurture deep friendships
- Invest money for my retirement
- Live a clean and simple life to minimize my impact on the environment
Now that I've written down my long-term goals, my intermediate goals should help me get closer to my long-term goals:
- Save for a downpayment on a house ($30,000 or so)
- Invest in and volunteer with companies that support environmental causes
- Examine everything I own and donate or discard what I no longer need
And now my short-term goals to help me achieve my intermediate and long-term goals:
- Attend a first-time homebuyers workshop
- Begin hosting a game-night with my friends once a month
- Clean out my garage
This is simply my approach, but there is no wrong way to do it. Cherry-pick what you like and figure out whatever works best for you!
And one last note: if you don't exactly know what you want your life to look like in five years, that's ok! There is so much pressure on people to have these things figured out by the time you graduate high school, but the honest truth is that it's ok to figure things out as you go along. In fact, I think this is important so I will reiterate: *it is ok to not be sure what you want to do*. Not everyone needs to have a "calling" or "dream job", some people find happiness in other ways that are unrelated to careers or work.
I personally have goals to make the world a better place to live. And if I can't in the current moment, then simply make things better. As a software engineer, this means:
- develop high quality software so the life of my customers is better
- develop new solutions for my customers
- fix defects found so that the software is better, and defect could mean a feature designed a way that is not really helping.
That also means, for me, raising my children in a way that I think goes into this overall goal. This is quite personal choice but if you are wondering what type of goals you can set for yourself, here is my example.