Facing the prospect of life after graduation kind of makes my skin crawl because my major is so open that I could literally take it and run anywhere and do anything with excellence. I have glamorous dreams, but no dream comes to pass without putting in the work beforehand.
Enter goal setting and planning.
I have found that writing my goals down helps focus me on what I actually think is important. Once I’ve decided what matters to me, it helps me to stay honed in on what I need to do in order to make it come to pass. Writing my plan down helps keep me accountable to myself, and forces me to think through my goals and determine if it really is that important to me.
How to set goals
I start by choosing the categories of life that are important to me. This helps me identify tangible things that need to happen or change within each category. My categories are:
- Body. What I eat and how I move (or don’t) helps me be able to do the things I want. Taking care of my body is important to me.
- Mind. I’ve dealt with really negative cycles, so I have to include goals for keeping my mind positive and healthy.
- Spirit. I believe in God, and I want to be closer to Him. When my spirit is at peace, everything else tends to improve on its own accord.
- Dreams. This is where I organize the crazy things I want my life to accomplish. Adventures and life-goals end up here.
Once I have my categories, I systematically go through and decide what I want to do in each category. Afterward, I take a break and imagine my future, and then add goals to each category as they come.
I’ll look at each category and write down some goals that come immediately to mind.
- Body. I want to be able to do a dead-hang pull-up, front and side splits, and be able to run a mile. I want to eat natural foods—no soda or packaged sweets, period.
- Mind. I want to read a book (any book) a week. I want to get As in all of my classes, and I want to write at least one blog post a week.
- Spirit. I want to be involved in a church and/or a ministry, and I want to spend 30-60 minutes a day reading my Bible and/or praying.
- Dreams. I want to take a road trip to Canada, publish a music album on the iTunes store, a book to the Kindle store, and post Youtube song covers once a month.
After taking a break from the categories, I’ll come up with some more goals that don’t necessarily fall into a category.
- I want to make 3 new friends
- I want to be able to do a parkour roll without hurting my hips
- I want to make a living without a day-job
- I want to write a worship song
Notice that each of these goals fit nicely into my pre-existing categories.
- I want to make 3 new friends (Mind)
- I want to be able to do a parkour roll without hurting my hips (Body)
- I want to make a living without a day-job (Dreams)
- I want to write an original worship song (Spirit)
It’s important to write these goals down somewhere permanent. Or at least somewhere you’ll see them often. I write mine in a journal, and I’ll write some of them on post-it notes and hang them on my bathroom mirror.
How to plan to enact your goals
Now that you have a pretty sizeable list of goals, it’s time to plan out how you’re going to make them actually happen. I do this in two steps.
Larger goals need to happen across a period of time. So I’ll start by writing down how long I think it should take for my goal to pass. (You may want to insert research here so you don’t set yourself up with unrealistic expectations.)
- Body. Do the side-splits (2 years)
And then what I should be doing in the meantime to make it happen
- Body. Do the side splits (2 years, stretching 3 times a week)
Once I have a notion of what it’ll take to do the thing, I put it in Google Calendar. Because if it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t happen for me.
I have an hour a day on the calendar to “take care of my body.” On MWF, that’s 1 hour dedicated to strength training, on TRSat, that’s stretchy time.
If my goal is something less tangible or that needs less dedication, then I will look ahead in the year and insert reminders to do things.
For a trip to Canada, I might put in a reminder after finals week to pick a week to go. Then that next weekend I might put in a reminder to plan where to go in that week. And so on until I have a week set aside in my calendar to go to Canada.
Why you should set goals
I really contemplated publishing this article around the New Year. I specifically decided not to. Why?
Because you don’t need a special day to set goals. You can set goals anytime, anywhere, for any reason. Today can be the first day you enact a change if you want to change.
I need goals so that I don’t aimlessly wander back into my parent’s basement after I graduate. Graduation day will be the day I sit down and write out goals so that I change from a student into a functioning member of society.
Some people don’t need goals. Some people don’t need to write them down; they just decide to do something and paff! it’s done.
I’m someone who needs something to look forward to and to be working on. Therefore, I have found goals to be incredibly helpful and valuable to changing my habits and making me into a better person.
And so I have found that goals help me to actually do what I want to be doing. Which makes me a happier person and has made my character more reliable and solid.
Everyone has room to grow, so use whatever tools are most effective for your growth. That tool might be goal-setting.
How do you write your goals? Where do you keep them? Who do you tell about them? Share in the comments!