Imagine the year is 2025 you are X years old and are thinking about where you are currently in life. Take a couple of minutes and answer the following questions:
Are you in higher education, an apprenticeship or in full-time employment?
Are you enjoying your course or current role?
Do you live a healthy lifestyle and are you taking care of yourself both mentally and physically?
What are your hobbies and how do you spend your spare time?
Where would you like to be/what would you like to be doing in the next 2 years (2027)?
I know answering these types of questions can be difficult especially when you are still young. You may feel like there is a lot of pressure on you and unrealistic expectations from family, teachers and even friends, but never let that get in the way of self reflection, planning ahead and goal-setting.
At thinkHER ambition, we believe in the importance of goal-setting and having a vision to work towards. It could be the difference between you achieving your dreams and settling.
"Goals, there’s no telling what you can do when you get inspired by them. There's no telling what you can do when you believe in them. And there's no telling what will happen when you act upon them” (Jim Rohn)
So what is Goal-Setting?
It is defined as "the act of identifying what you want to achieve and creating a measurable plan of how to achieve it."
This process involves thinking about what you want to achieve in life, knowing where to concentrate your efforts and breaking down your overall goals into smaller actionable targets. It encourages you to plan ahead and have a list of objectives or targets to work towards. You need to consider what you want, why you want it and how you plan to get it.
And what are the benefits?
It encourages growth and reflection
It increases motivation
It encourages you to learn new things
It provides purpose and meaning to your life
It gives you a chance to gain a deeper understanding about yourself
It encourages you to step outside of your comfort zone and push yourself beyond your capability
Throughout my academic life, I had consciously set targets for myself but only in terms of the grades that I wanted to achieve. I did not have a real understanding of what goal-setting was and how I could effectively utilise it in my life.
At age 19 I was lucky enough to gain a mentor who taught me about S.M.A.R.T goals, personal development plans, vision boards and much more. She taught me about the importance of being a forward-thinker and creating goals and objectives to push myself in all areas of my life including academia, personal and professional.
So what does S.M.A.R.T stand for?
Specific - is my goal precise and definitive?
Measurable - can I track my progress?
Achievable - is my goal attainable and feasible?
Realistic- is my goal practical and relevant to my life?
Time-frame- have I set realistic deadlines?
An example of a S.M.A.R.T goal would be:
“To get 1 week work experience in an advertising agency by Summer 2020”
Below is an example of how you could breakdown this goal into actionable targets (assuming that it was set in January 2020):
Target 1: To find 10 work experience websites and companies that help students aged between 14 - 19 find appropriate placements by the end of January e.g. studentladder
Target 2: To create a CV and ask for feedback from a family member, teacher and/or peer by the end of the second week in February
Target 3: To update my CV with the feedback received and ask a family member or teacher for a final review by mid-February
Target 4: To find 20 work experience placements that interest me and that I could apply too by the second week in March
Target 5: To create a spreadsheet stating each placement requirement, each application deadline date and the status of each application by the third week in March
Target 6: To apply for 2 placements a week from March until May
As you have noticed it is not just enough to set yourself a goal, you have to go beyond that. You have to consider and plan the steps that you will need to take to help you reach the overall goal, whilst setting yourself deadlines so that you stay motivated.
Goal-setting can be a quick process or a long process depending on a range of factors. It can also be a hard process, especially when you may not reach the goal that you have set yourself. But just because you did not initially meet it in the time frame you set, does not mean that you never will. Never think of it as failing, know that it is a lesson learnt and that you must use this lesson moving forward.
So don’t ever give up.
As Tony Robbins said “setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”