Performance vs. Outcome based
Our systems should focus on what it is in our power to achieve! Though getting accepted into your dream school may seem like a straightforward goal, that’s ultimately a decision made by somebody else and largely out of your control.
If it just so happens to be a super competitive year and the school is unable to accept you, that will end up feeling like a personal failure – when it totally isn’t! By focusing on your own personal performance, you are better able to roll with the punches. You’re also more willing to give YOURSELF the validation you deserve for all the progress you’ve made, regardless of the outcome.
So what can you control in this situation, you may ask? Your actions, of course! You can break up your big goal of getting into university into a lot of smaller actions that are within your control:
- I will study more to improve my grades
- I will commit to extracurriculars
- I will make my college application as good as it can be
See how these goals already feel more manageable? They’re not perfect yet, though. Let’s keep working!
Specific vs. Vague
Most goals start out pretty vague. We often don’t really know what we’re getting into until we hunker down and research how to get from point A to point B. This isn’t a bad thing at the beginning; sometimes being vague allows us to be even more creative and ambitious when we think about our desired end results.
That being said, getting specific is necessary if you want to follow through on those desired results. This can be the least fun part of goal-setting, but also really liberating. Figuring out our systems ahead of time narrows your goal down into what you actually need to be doing, meaning you’re less likely to sweat the small stuff.
Time to get specific!
- I will dedicate two hours to studying at my desk after school every day
- I will apply for leadership positions in the Spanish club, Speech & Debate team, and YWLC club at school
- I will work on my college essay for one hour at my desk on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and weekends
We’re getting closer!
Long-term vs. Short-term
Any (realistic!) timeline for a goal or system is a good timeline. Short-term goals are great for building confidence and staying on track, while long-term goals provide guidance and inspiration. It’s important to have a healthy mix of both.
Let’s add some timelines to the systems we’ve set up to make them even more effective:
- I will study for three hours at my desk after school until my Spanish exam on Wednesday
- I will apply for leadership positions in the Spanish club, Speech & Debate team, and YWLC club at school by this Friday
- I will work on my college essay for one hour at my desk on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and weekends until November 1st
With long-term goals, it’s also good to check in with yourself every once in a while to evaluate progress. Your goals, values, or life in general also may have changed since you set your original intention – that’s totally normal! If your goal no longer feels relevant, necessary, or motivating, it may be time to adjust.