The importance of setting goals
Do any of these describe you?
- You work hard and yet you don’t seem to get the results you want.
- You always feel like you’re pressed for time but don’t get as much done as others around you.
- You’re busy all day, but then you need to pull an “all-nighter” to finish something you couldn’t complete during the day.
- The day (or sometimes the week!) slips by and you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything.
- You miss class or you miss deadlines – or both.
Students who fit into any of the above categories will benefit from setting goals for themselves and then devising a plan to attain those goals.
Creators do more than dream. They make a plan and then take one step after another…even when they don’t feel like it…until they achieve their objective. Goals and dreams set your destination, but only persistent purposeful actions will get you there.
-- Skip Downing, On Course
Goal-setting may be the most important facet of success. After all, if you don’t have a goal, how do you know when you’ve “made it”? Setting goals helps you develop clarity of your destination and helps you to identify what’s important (and what’s not). Having goals allows you to take control of your life and as you accomplish your goals you’ll gain self-confidence and enthusiasm for moving ahead. Setting goals will move you forward and make big tasks into smaller, more manageable units; they will help you work efficiently and make good decisions – that is, decisions that are in line with what you want to accomplish. Sound too good to be true? Give it a try and you’ll find that good goal-setting is the backbone that supports everything else you do.
The process of setting goals is an example of “backward design” or “starting with the end in mind”. People who set goals, whether they be long-term aims or tasks to be completed in a day, start by thinking of what they want to achieve in a given time frame and then working backward to formulate a plan for accomplishment. Creating a list of tasks to be done in a day is a quick and easy thing to do. If you want to plan for your future, goal-setting – or doing it well, that is – is a more involved task.
There are three aspects to address as you create your goals:
What is the goal? Be as specific as possible! The more you can define what you want to do, the easier it will be to formulate a plan.
What’s the plan to attain that goal? Identify concrete, specific steps you need to take to reach your goal. This part includes adding a time factor, such as what you need to do for the year, for each semester, for each week.
How do you self-evaluate? That is, how do you know when you’ve hit the mark, or that you’re still on track and progressing as you should be? How do you get back on track after a mishap?
Does this all sound time-consuming and troublesome? It is, at the start. Once you get accustomed to planning and goal-setting, it becomes part of who you are and a vital part of your ability to function efficiently. There’s nothing as disheartening as falling short in something you really want so it’s better to put in the time now and do it right!