We are generally taught that we need to set goals. But like a lot of other advice, we tend to put off setting goals. Why is that? There are a number of reasons that we fail to ignore the advice on goals.
Some of these include:
- We don’t know how to set goals
- We don’t know the value of having goals
- We have set goals in the past but they didn’t help
- We feel that we don’t have the control over our lives to achieve personal goals
While these challenges are real, they aren’t insurmountable. No one is born with a goal setting gene or deficiency. Setting goals is an acquired ability.
The best way to learn to set goals is to just start. Set a goal for a week related to something you know you need to do but haven’t been successful in accomplishing. This could be something academic (e.g. spend at least 3 hours in the library each day), health related (e.g. run 2 miles a day), or social (e.g. meet a new person each day.)
Then take this start and build on it. What could you do better with regard to your goal setting efforts? What additional goals do you want to set? The key is to build goal setting as a skill, just like you would develop an athletic or other skill.
Do you want a good job when you graduate? Of course, the answer is yes. It’s unlikely that you will be considered for the best jobs unless you can share with prospective companies how you set goals and achieve them. It would be nice to say that goal setting is valuable without any other justification, but for many of us, we need extra motivation.
One valuable asset in goal setting is to have a mentor who you can talk to about your goals. You can find out how to develop a mentor by reviewing the topic Finding a Mentor. A mentor can help keep you on track with your goal achievement, suggest other goals, and review your goal statements to see how realistic they are.
You will also need a way for tracking your goal achievement to see how well you are doing. Tracking strategies are discussed in another topic in this section.
Finally you need to be able to anticipate and win the moments of truth that are inevitable with any goal. Your goals will be tested. There are ways to meet these tests as shown in another topic in this section.