How to Set Goals That Will Help You Succeed

In general, setting goals is an integral part of life. Creating individual goals can help you outline a path to obtaining a long-term vision and provide motivation and guidance throughout the process. Goal-setting is one of the many exercises in which a mentor’s direction can benefit. We gathered a small list of Per Scholas’ mentors’ most essential tips to help you set and accomplish your goals. 

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

1. Start with small goals.

Get your foot in the door by setting and accomplishing small, achievable goals. These will help you build up the habit of setting and meeting goals without feeling too overwhelming right off the bat. Regularly achieving these small goals can help you gain the momentum, motivation, and confidence you need to make the jump to bigger, more complex goals successfully. 

2. Adopt some behavioral micro-habits.

Like small goals, micro-habits are small, simple tasks that allow you to break down the components of a more prominent goal behavior into tiny, achievable parts. Micro-habits never last longer than 3-5 minutes, but they are mighty! These habits aim to assimilate small, proactive behaviors into your daily life to the point where they become a habit, cumulatively achieving your overall goal. If, for example, your overall goal behavior is to become more organized, you can adopt some quick micro-habits as simple as making your bed in the morning, hanging your jacket up when you get home, rather than throwing it on that chair, planning out your next day the night before, etc. Setting micro-habits can grow the confidence and ability to achieve more necessary life goals and behaviors. Starting small instead of making drastic life changes feels much more achievable and can help you build the consistency that will help you achieve your overall goal behaviors.

3. Set your aim and get started! Remember that your goals may change and grow with you.

Setting goals that will tangibly impact your future can feel stressful and daunting. However, it is essential to understand that your goals will change and evolve with you. This does not mean that you failed to accomplish your original goals. Instead, it means that you learned enough in the process to grow and develop your plans. Coming up with your first set of goals doesn’t have to be an overly arduous process, but it is crucial to have a starting point to work from. Monitoring the growth of your goals over time will allow you to look back on your progress and set the launching pad that you can build from. As Kelsey Briggs, Per Scholas Chicago’s Senior Manager of Business Solutions put it: “as you learn more about yourself and your field, [your goals] may change. But, you can’t see where you’ve come from, where you’re going, or even know if you’re on the right track if you don’t set those first goals.” 

person writing a to-do list
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

4. Set SMART Goals

The goals you set for yourself must be clear and achievable. Vague, overly-aggressive, or poorly-framed goals are a quick recipe for frustration and disappointment. “SMART goals” is a system designed to help you set the framework for success by crafting goals that are clear, trackable, and carefully planned. The components of SMART stand for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. In a nutshell, you want to ensure that your goals are realistically accomplishable, as clear and specifically-defined as possible, relevant to your overall values and interests and that your progress can be measured in some way and completed within an ideal time frame. Setting up the framework to define and achieve your goals is a foolproof first step in the process of accomplishing your goals. Plan out your goals, follow your plan, and you will set yourself up for success.

5. Be Intentional.

To achieve your goals, you have to be mindful of your actions, time, and effort. Achieving goals is a significant accomplishment, and it can be done by following the plan that has already been set. Remind yourself of the big picture, keep your goals close to you, and don’t forget to check in with yourself to make sure you are following your plan and that you are on the right track to success. It is equally crucial to be kind to yourself when you are not following your plan. Goal-achievement is not always a straight line; if you find you are slipping, remind yourself why you have chosen to follow this path and what the benefits of success will be. Everyone has off days, and it is essential not to let them overwhelm you. If achieving your goals was easy, these tips would not be necessary! Forgive yourself for slipping and identify what specifically caused you to do so. Reassess and make changes to your technique if necessary, recommit yourself to the end goal, and get back on track!

With these tips in mind, you should be ready to start setting and working towards your goals! Remember to be realistic and intentional with the goals you set and to hold yourself accountable for your progress. Everyone has to start somewhere, and even the smallest goals can be an important stepping stone to bigger things. 


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