July 6, 2016

Setting + Meeting Goals

I'm definitely a goal-setter. I've always known what I want and have been willing to do what I've needed to get it, even if the "what" itself has changed time and again. On any given day, I have at least four different running sets of goals: a 101 in 1001; a list of goals corresponding to my age, with my next birthday as the deadline (see my "21 Before 21"); weekly planner entries; and daily to-do lists (I love Post-It notes!). 

Anyway, achieving a goal is not usually done without time and effort. But all your time and effort might still prove futile if you don't have a strategy. Sometimes you have no other choice than to just "go with it" and see how things play out (sometimes this is actually best), but I believe that setting and meeting your goals works a little better when you have an idea of what general direction you're going in.

+ Be real with yourself about what's realistic. By all means, chase your dreams, but make sure you don't trick yourself into believing something that can't happen right now will. Finances are a good example. Are you realistically going to save $10,000 over the next two years working 10 hours a week at your part-time job while taking a full course load and balancing student orgs with your research at the university hospital? No, probably not. Don't knock your goals— you might just need to adjust them to accommodate your circumstances. 

+ There are short-term and long-term goals. Know the difference. You shouldn't expect a huge goal, like landing your dream career or buying a new car, to happen overnight, but you shouldn't wait forever to accomplish something small, like cleaning out your closet or exercising more. 

+ Know yourself. Who are you? Who aren't you? If you're going to be motivated to work towards your goals, they need to reflect you and what you truly want and what's truly suited to you and your   interests, aspirations, and inspirations. Why work hard for something that someone else wants for you or for something you don't really want yourself? I personally ask for God's guidance to help me see which of my goals are meant for me to pursue and which ones I need not spend time working towards. 

+ Have a plan. Define the steps you need to take to help you reach your goals. This includes making sure you have access to the right resources, whether that means surrounding yourself with people who can help you, building up your resumé, working on your public speaking, or going to bed earlier to wake up earlier. Your plan should also include some kind of reward or incentives to keep you motivated.

+ Be willing to make sacrifices. Take opportunities you might be unsure of at first (as someone who's done this more than once, trust me— it will be okay). Take that awesome but unpaid internship if your circumstances allow. Don't settle, but see how you can make something that might not seem relevant to your goal work for you.

+ Set smaller goals within larger goals to better manage and track your progress. This may seem counterproductive, but it actually helps to break large goals up into smaller pieces rather than trying to tackle the whole thing at once. Taking on to much can overwhelm you, cause unnecessary stress, and even delay your overall progress from either careless mistakes, discouragement, or both.

What do you do to meet your goals?

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