Goal Setting

"I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can't 

find anybody who can tell me what they want."  — Mark Twain 

Graphic of target with arrow in the bullseye


This is where things get practical. However much you know about your own strengths and weaknesses, you can at least decide on goals so you can figure out what you'll need to get there.

Start big: when you picture the sort of life you'd like to have in the future, what does that involve? Do you want really nice stuff? A job that brings you respect? A cause you can be passionate about? Do you want to start a family? Do you just want to have enough money to be comfortable? In other words, try to picture different (happy) futures for yourself, and then identify what they all have in common. Are there always kids? A dream job? The opportunity for new and exciting experiences? It could just be as simple as wanting enough money to go out and see a movie or buy a video game whenever you want.

Having a good grasp of your personality (and especially your values) can help you identify your goals, but goal-setting is a more concrete step you can take whenever. Just try to picture what, realistically, you'd like your life to be like in the future, and then work backwards — because just as someone who wants to be in shape knows they'll have to exercise, knowing what you want shows you what you'll have to do. So if you want a certain kind of job, you'll need certain kinds of education and experience. If you want a really good income, you'll have to identify jobs that make that kind of money and be willing to pursue them. If you want to start a family in the not-too-distant future, you'll be working mostly on achieving stability (healthy finances, reliable job, the ability to not move around too much, etc). Whittle it down as far as possible; obviously we'd all like to be rich and powerful and doing something we love, but if you could only get one thing out of your future, what would it be? (Or, if you absolutely must, what two things?)

Goals are a simple thing, but powerful. Once you know what your core wants are, you have the engine that will be able to drive you forward — and, should a new opportunity present itself, you'll also know what you're not willing to sacrifice. All of that will help you dramatically narrow down the field of possible next-steps, so take it seriously and ask yourself: what are your goals? What particular things, above all else, do you want to have in your life?


Next Step: Explore Your Options

Frances Banta Waggoner Community Library

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