Goals are good
Going through the process of setting goals could help you to combat anxiety, improve your mental focus and increase your chances of successfully getting what you want.
Let’s face it, if you don’t know where you’re going, it’s unlikely you’ll get anywhere. Imagine hopping in the car or on the bus without knowing where you want to go – you’ll just end up back at home. Get a plan, write down some goals, and see just how far you can go.
There are three types of goals
You can make a plan for the short, medium or long term.
Think 5 to 10 years into the future, or even further, to set your long term goals. While you’re still in high school your long term goals might include establishing a career that you’ll love, buying a house, or traveling overseas.
We’re talking between 1 and 5 years here. Work out needs to happen in the next year or two to help you achieve your goal. In high school medium term goals might include:
- saving up for a car
- finding a part-time job
- being selected for school captain or a sports team,
- achieving better marks, or
- heading off to uni or planning your gap year
What do you want to achieve in the next few weeks or months? Short-term goals should be clear and achievable, and could include something like learning a new skill, passing an upcoming exam, or even just cleaning out your room.
Setting goals is a simple process
If you’ve already realised that having some goals is a good idea, so how do you actually go about setting them?
Step 1 – Find somewhere quiet, take a notepad and pen
You might also want to have a calendar handy, so you can work out what needs to happen and when.
Step 2 – Imagine what you want your life to look like in the long term
Are you busy and successful, or have you travelled to lots of different places?
Do you work behind a desk, or do you want to work with your hands?
Do you have any personal goals that will take a long time to achieve, like climbing Mt Everest, or graduating from university?
Write down your long-term goals, whatever they are.
Step 3 – Ok, now you’ll need to work out all the steps
What do you need to achieve in the short and medium term in order to reach your long-term goals? Say you want to become a successful tradie, do you need to do any pre-apprenticeship courses, or should you build your resume before applying for apprenticeships?
Then think about any goals you want to achieve that won’t take quite so long, like learning how to cook, or winning your sports team’s best and fairest award.
Make sure you write these goals down too.
Step 4 – Time to create a plan
Goals are all good, but without a plan you might find it hard to get there. A goal is your destination, the plan is the directions.
Start by working out how long you think it’ll take to achieve your medium and long-term goals. If you have a definite end date (e.g. an entry deadline), write that down as well.
Then work out the little steps you’ll need to take along the way. You may need to enrol in a course, or start training. Put due dates on these items, and add them to your calendar and to-do lists. If you don’t already have a to-do list, try using Asana or Google Keep, they’re both free apps and they could help you to set and stick to your goals.
Step 5 – Tell someone else
This is a great tip as you’ll get additional ideas and feedback, plus it’s great to have someone who can check in and hold you accountable. It’s a proven fact that you’ll have a much better chance of success if you tell others about your goals. Also put your list of goals somewhere you can see it all the time, like on the wall in your room, to remind yourself of where you’re headed.
Step 6 – Check in frequently to stay on track.
Cross off any short and medium term goals as you achieve them, revise your goals and change the steps if you need to. Remember it’s ok to change your goals if they’re no longer working for you or you’ve had a change of heart, but don’t give up on the goal setting process.
When goals go bad
Not all goals are helpful. Be careful of the following:
- Setting goals too high, which means they’re destined for failure
- Having too many goals, especially ones that conflict with each other, can also set you up for a fall. You can’t expect to travel the world and achieve your degree in record time all at once
- Vague goals that aren’t backed by a solid plan
Becoming obsessed with achieving your goals is also highly uncool.
Balance is the key, so make sure your goals suit the lifestyle you want to lead, and you’ll avoid becoming stressed or anxious if things don’t go to plan.
Goal Setting Resources
Healthdirect has some great goal-setting resources and links to others – read more here
UNSW published this article on Motivation & Goals
Asana – the free version has everything you need
Google Keep helps you track your to-do lists on the go and it’s free
Stickk helps you make accountable goals and stick to them
GoalsOnTrack is serious software for serious goals, and it also helps you break goals down into achievable milestones
Balanced is an app, that helps you set goals and develop positive behaviours
If you’re still feeling bamboozled by all the options and what you need to do to set your goals, head over to Study Work Grow’s Goal Generator. It’ll help you to work through the steps simply and you’ll have a list of goals ready to print out before you know it.