Goal setting in theory is the simple act of defining your destination. You are deciding where you want to go. This is crucial in college because if you do not decide what career you want to go into, the grades you want to achieve, how fit you want to be, and lifestyle you want to live, you will be at the whim of the goals of other people. Without your own destinations in mind, you will be controlled and directed by other people.
I know many people who do not set goals or only make them haphazardly. Then they wonder why they are in the same place years later. For example, if you hear people say (and you most likely will) that they got a bad grade because the professor is a tough-grader, it was simply their fault for not preparing well enough, and that stemmed from them not deciding early on the exact grade that they desired.
Here are some tips to help you create goals for college and life that will help you to achieve massive success!
Long-term, Medium, and Short-term Goals
Start simply with a piece of paper or your laptop (smartphone notes work too). Begin writing, in the most detailed manner you can, what you want to achieve, be, experience and have.
Long-term Goals: Describe where you want to be, your financial situation, relationship that you desire, your physical state, and anything else you want to be experiencing in five years. These will be your long term goals. The trick is to be detailed and thorough as if it has already come true. Live in your “five-year-later” self and describe what is going on. Leave space between each item for something later.
Medium-term Goals: Describe the same as above, but for the next 6-months to a year. Where do you want to be, what do you want to have and how do you want to live? Remember, you must be detailed and express it all as if you are living in this future self and describing what is going on around you.
Short-term Goals: This part is a little less glamorous but very necessary. Write out what you want to achieve, experience and have within the next few weeks and throughout the semester. These should be “I will” statements. For example, I will achieve a 4.0 in each and every class with ease. I will enjoy every night that I decide to go out and I will meet fantastic people that will help me in my endeavors. I will exercise and eat healthy every day to have the body and life of my dreams.
The reason I want you to start with long-term and work backwards is because knowing the future helps you to create goals, decisions and actions in the short-term to get you there.
In the space between each goal, again starting with the long-term goals, write a descriptive “why” for each thing you want to achieve. This is the purpose behind each goal. I use the phrase “in order to” but you may prefer “so that” or anything else that explains the purpose.
For example, if you wrote for a long-term goal that in five years “I am living in a beautiful two-story house with a two-car garage and a pool in the backyard. My home is next to a golf course and is well protected. There are 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, and home is fully furnished with (whatever amazing furniture you would want)…etc, etc.” Then I would add “So that I can begin a family and raise children that will be happy and proud of where they live. So that my spouse wakes up every day joyful of his/her kitchen and the view from the second story balcony.”
Feel the amazing feelings you would if you already had these goals achieved in your future self. This solidifies your purposes for each goal and makes them much more real for you. Goals are not abstract statements. They are your future.
S.M.A.R.T. Goals Can Be Very Helpful
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely or time-based.
This is a method that works incredibly well for creating goals and mission statements. You are deciding specifically what you want and creating a way to measure your progress and success. You are making a goal that is attainable and realistic. Finally, you put a deadline to it that ensures you make consistent progress.
This is great, especially in a business or classroom setting. However, there are flaws that I do not like, and I encourage you to use the method written about previously in addition to creating smart goals.
The issues that I have with SMART are that is can be limiting and does not include a purpose (which we already talked about being a very important factor regarding the emotional drive to obtain the objective and reach success). It is limiting in that it says to create attainable and realistic goals. While this makes some sense, I believe you should always set goals for the highest achievement or greatest success possible. Whatever you set your goal to is what you are going to work to achieve.
Regarding grades, you may say that you want an 85% on the exam. This is probably reasonable and attainable. So you study each day and you achieve an 85! Awesome, you achieved your goal! But what if you had put your goal at a perfect 100%? While this may not have seemed to be attainable or realistic based on statistics and previous grades, having a goal this high will cause you to prepare more and work harder. You may only get a 95% on the exam, meaning you failed to reach your goal, but your grade was higher!
Does that make sense? The higher you try to achieve, typically the higher you DO achieve. Please let me know your thoughts on this concept in the comments below.
I Wrote Out My Goals, Now What?
Look at all of your goals and decide your number one long-term goal, number one medium goal, and top three short term goals.
Write these on a separate sheet of paper and keep it next to your bed. Read them in the morning and before you go to bed at night. Read your long list of descriptive goals at least once each weekend!
This will solidify your goals into your subconscious and help you to take more consistent actions to achieve them! It is the key to making achievement feel effortless. With your goals in the forefront of your mind, it will be very easy to say no to distractions, find opportunities, and act in accordance with your future success.
What Happens If I Don’t Write Down My Goals?
No matter how well-built a ship is, if it is not given a destination and properly maintained, it will drift into every storm and eventually sink.
You are the captain of your ship. If you don’t define where you want to go and focus on it daily, other people will influence and control where you go. You may find that you will go in circles and stay in the same place, or you will end up at a destination you do not like.
You will be at the mercy of your friends, professors, traffic, weather, and any other obstacle that can come between you and your desires. If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Don’t let this be you!
Take College and Life By The Reigns, and Ride Toward Success!
You decide where you want to be later in life, and your decisions today determine if you will get there! Set amazing goals in college and perfect this habit early.
You write your story, so I suggest you start writing!
Conquer College and Dominate Life!
If you have any ideas or questions, please leave them in the comments below! I would be honored to discuss this with you!