Goals tend to have minimal influence unless they are written down. Written words tend to add a formality to what you want to achieve.
Written goal statements tend to have the following components:
- A description of the outcome you want to achieve
- A specific metric to be used
- A time period for achievement
- A description of what you will be doing to achieve your goal
Consider the following example of a good statement:
I will obtain an internship by the beginning of the second semester (1/15). I will do this by devoting an hour a day to my pursuit of an internship.
The outcome on this case is getting an internship. The metric is simply whether an internship was obtained. The time period is January 2015. The activity is one hour per day spent on the pursuit of an internship.
Here are some cautions you need to consider in writing your goal statement:
- The outcome should be the end result you hope to achieve, not the effort you put into the goal. For example, you might have an outcome goal of a certain Body Mass Index. That’s an outcome. But a goal shouldn’t be simply working out for one hour a day. That’s an input.
- The goal needs to be realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
- The time horizon for the goal should be near enough to make it something you think about all the time. When you set too long of a time horizon, you won’t make the effort needed to achieve the goal.
- Make sure the activities you describe align with the outcome you want to achieve. A lot of time, activities tend to be more preparatory rather than focused on the outcome. For example, activities associated with preparing a resume, while important in getting an internship, are not sufficient. If you are serious about your goal, your activities need to include actual contacts with employers.
- You might want to sub-divide your goal statement into more “bite size” chunks if you feel it is too large. For example, you could set monthly weight loss goals rather than a semester-long weight loss goal.
Finally, once your goal statement is written, post it someplace where you will see it every day (e.g. bathroom mirror, refrigerator). This will keep it always on your mind.