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Ready to set some goals?

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’d be wasting your time, right? That’s why we set goals. They give us a sense of direction and focus for our future so we can get there faster and with less stress.

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. If you’re keen to make a start, take a look at the types of goals you can set and how to go about it.

There are three types of goals

At their most basic, you can split your goals into short-, medium-, or long-term.

Long-term goals 

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. This is your chance to really aim high, because you have the most time to prepare.

Medium-term goals 

We’re talking between 1 and 5 years here. Work out needs to happen in the next few years to help you achieve your longer-term goals. In high school, medium term goals might include:

  • Saving up for a car
  • Finding a part-time job
  • Being selected for school captain
  • Achieving better marks
  • Heading off to study
  • Planning a gap year

Short-term goals 

What do you want to achieve in the next few weeks or months? Short-term goals should be clear and achievable, and can include things like learning a new skill, passing an upcoming exam, or even just cleaning out your room.

Setting goals is a simple process

You’ve probably already realised that having some goals is a good idea, so how do you actually go about setting them? Let’s go through the process step-by-step.

Step 1: Find somewhere quiet

Switch your phone to silent, turn off the television, and find a place you can work without distractions. Take a notepad and pen or your laptop to write down your goals. 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 active or do you want to settle down? 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 Mount Everest or running a successful company? Write down your long-term goals, whatever they are. 

Step 3: Work out what you need or want to do in the short- and medium-term

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 an electrician; do you need to do any pre-apprenticeship courses, or should you build your resume before applying for apprenticeships?

Plus, think about any other goals you want to achieve that won’t take as long, like learning how to cook or topping the league with your sports team, and write them down too.

Step 4: Create a plan

Goals are all good, but without a plan you might find it hard to get there. A goal is your destination, while 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 definite start and end dates (e.g. a course application 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 an app like Google Keep to help you to set and stick to your goals.

Step 5: Tell someone else

Telling others about your goals, particularly if it’s someone you care about or whose opinion you value, is a great way to seek additional ideas and feedback. It’s also good to have someone who can check in and hold you accountable. Plus, it’s a proven fact that you’ll have a much better chance of success if you tell others about your goals.

Step 6: Check in frequently to stay on track

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.

Cross off any short- and medium-term goals as you achieve them, or 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. 

When goals go bad

We’ve just spent all this time talking about how great goals are, but unfortunately not all goals are helpful. Be careful of the following:

  • Setting goals way too high, which means they’re destined for failure.
  • Having too many goals, especially ones that conflict with each other. You can’t expect to travel the world and finish your degree in record time all at once.
  • Setting vague goals that aren’t backed by a solid plan.
  • Becoming obsessed with achieving your goals to the detriment of other parts of your life.

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

If you’re ready to start setting some goals of your own but want a bit more help first, here are some resources you might like to check out:

We also have lots of other blogs on goal setting you can read on our website here.

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