Setting realistic goals


It is important to set goals for all aspects of your life in order to make sure you are heading in the right direction.

Whether you are a teenager looking forward to leaving your parents house, a college student wondering what the next chapter holds, or a young adult just out on your own, goal setting is an important, and often overlooked, tool for a successful future. Think of it as the map to follow to lead you in the right direction. In high school, you were probably told to set goals, such as applying for college or trade school, joining the military, or getting a job. Many times in our lives we are asked, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and typically we answer in very vague terms, such as “I want to be successful, independent, and happy.” But those are generalities…what you need to focus on are specifics.

So, how do we do that?

The truth is, we should be always be setting specific goals, and adjusting them as we go along. Your goal should not be set in stone. And you should have more than one goal. Your goals need to be changeable and fluid, because life will always give you situations that you have not considered. Examples of specific goals:

I am beginning college this fall and my general goal is graduation in four years. My specific goals are: graduating with at least a 3.5 GPA, not missing any classes, and moving into my own apartment after freshman year. So, how am I going to accomplish these? I am going to make a plan. If I am struggling in class, I will look for on campus resources to help me make better grades. I am going to take good care of myself so I do not get sick and miss classes. I am also going to get a part time job and save money so I can get an apartment.

This sounds like a great plan, right? But…the 1st semester, I have a death in my family and am forced to miss classes for a few days. This causes my grades to drop as I try to catch up on missed assignments. Also, jobs are not easily found. I have been looking for a part time job that will work around my school schedule, but when I do, there is barely enough money coming in to save. These are real examples of what my own children have struggled with and none of it could have been predicted.

All of these examples could have thrown anyone way off course and away from the original goals, but there are always ways to adjust and reassess our goals. In this case, my daughter was able to decide to take an extra year at school to make up for missing classes and found support on campus to help her get better grades and back on track. The job situation still hasn’t worked out for her, but she was able to get enough financial aid to help her get apartments throughout the years and not have to live in the dorm. She knows that she will have to pay back that money in the future, but she was willing to make that trade off to live on her own.

All of this is to show you how goal setting needs to be flexible and understanding that before the next step of actually creating your goals. Check back for part two of goal setting for the specifics of how to set realistic goals for your own life. As always, please leave me a rating, comment, follow, and subscribe to be reminded when new articles are posted. I look forward to hearing from you about what interests you and what experiences you have encountered with goal setting.


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