Types of Goals
College is a prime time to explore new things, reach above and beyond what you know, and accomplish goals. That being said, it is important to have a variety of different goals that impact and advance various areas of your life. Think outside the box when you are goal setting; think about things you have always wanted to do but have never known how to start. It is important to set different types of goals, such as academic goals, physical goals, personal goals, career goals, financial goals, and so on because it helps us stay positively stimulated and encourages us to be ambitious.
Academic Goals – obviously you are in college for a reason. You are here to learn and get a degree after years of papers, tests, group projects, and class presentations. Setting academic goals is one of the most important things to do for yourself during your time in college. When you are thinking about setting academic goals, rather than your goal simply be to make all A’s in a semester, thing about more specific and attainable objectives. For example a strategic goal may be to make flashcards once a week for a certain class where you know you will need to remember lots of definitions. Another example of a strong goal may be to finish drafting a paper a week before it is due to give yourself time to have additional edits done. Other goals similar to these may include using a professor’s office hours to meet before an exam or assignment is due or structuring your work week to spend at least five hours in the library each day studying.
Health and Fitness Goals – These goals are very common. Everyone wants to lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle. But actually obtaining your goal is a different story. Again, instead of making the broad goal of wanting to lose 20 pounds, make a plan. First, find what type of physical activity you love to do, whether it’s running, weightlifting, group fitness, or rock climbing (to name just a few). Then, figure out what you want to do or get better at and create your goals around those wants. Instead of saying you want to work out seven days a week, set a goal that you know is going to fit into your schedule, such as going to the gym for an hour after your last MWF class. But these goals don’t have to be just about going to the gym. Other goals may include things such as eating more vegetables each day, trying to wake up with enough time to eat a good breakfast before your first class, or setting aside time for a mental rest during the day such as a power nap or a peaceful walk in the park. If you struggle with getting enough sleep at night, set a goal to go to bed by 11pm so that you can get at least 7 hours of sleep. I know it’s unrealistic for busy college students to go to bed much earlier, but if some days are going to be longer and more stressful than others, telling yourself your goal is to go to bed by 10:30pm three times a week may be doable. The possibilities with health and fitness goals are endless, but it’s important to think about what is best for your body and lifestyle.
Personal Goals – Personal goals are great because they are something that only applies to you and what you want to do. These types of goals may include things such as learning how to cook by preparing your own meals three times a week instead of going to the dining hall, reading a fun, non-school related book, take scuba diving lessons, or trying out a new organization or activity. Focus on what energies and refreshes you and create goals around such things. It’s one thing to say you are going to do something new and another to actually do it. It’s important to do your research and figure out what is out there and what you are interested in attempting. If it’s a new organization or activity you’re interested in, go to information sessions and find what best fits you. A great example of a personal goal could be to join one fun campus organization such as water polo to have an entertaining social atmosphere and one service or volunteer organization to help build your resume and possibly open networking connections. Other personal goals could be something like taking a cooking class or a self-defense course. Find things that keep you stimulated and help better you as an individual.
Career Goals – This is huge! Even though college is the time you are learning and growing as a person, it also needs to be a time when you are thinking about what your career and life will look like after graduation. Setting career goals in college is crucial because schools offer tons of opportunities for students to advance themselves through experiences such as internships, leadership conferences/series, career center services, volunteerism, student jobs, and so on. Meeting with a career center counselor can be one of the best things a student can do in college. These individuals can help you determine what career goals you should make. Setting a goal such as meeting with the career center and creating a resume is a wonderful kick-start goal in the first few years. As a junior or senior a great career goal could be going to a practice interview or obtaining an internship. College is the time to set fun goals and branch out to try new things, but at the same time obtaining a job is important. Think about what is going to help you achieve or reach your dream job, and from there, set your career goals to make it happen.
Financial Goals – I know its college and you are saying, “I’m already broke.” I get it. Everyone is broke, but there are tons of ways to obtain part-time jobs and set financial goals for yourself. If you do have or decided to get a job in college, start the practice of saving and setting financial objectives. It’s easy to think your $100 paycheck is going to last for the month but then it disappears after the weekend. Think about money and your spending habits with a goal setting mindset. If your goal is to save $500 over the semester, figure out how much of each paycheck needs to go straight to savings, then get into the habit of making that transaction with each paycheck before you think twice about it. Also tell yourself not to take any money out of your savings unless it is an absolute emergency. Other ways to have financial goals are to see if you can eat out just a few times each week (or, even more challenging, don’t eat out at all some weeks). Eating out costs way more than cooking or using your prepaid dining hall card. Therefore, set a goal such as only allowing yourself to eat out once or twice a week, and see how much you can save. Maybe set a goal such as not buying any clothing item for an entire month. Or sticking with your old phone or laptop until you really need to upgrade, not just when you want to.
Goal setting can seem annoying and tedious when it means changing the way you do things, but if you want to achieve great things, it is vital to know how to do it and do it well. Whether you are trying to set academic, health and fitness, personal, career, financial, or any other type of goal, go into it with a positive attitude and a desire to succeed. If you consider it a chore, you are probably not going to stay motivated long enough to see it through. Also, realize you are most likely not alone in your goals. Find support; someone who will hold you accountable, to check in with you and make sure you are staying on track. It’s 90% mind over matter. Your attitude determines your altitude.