How can you use your understanding of goal,plan, and action?

Now that you have a clearer understanding of the role of a goal and the way in which a plan and action can turn a dream into reality, you are ready to put theory into practice by writing out your own goal or goals.

The following four steps are designed to help you in this process.

Step 1:Brainstorm.

On a clean sheet of paper, do some brainstorming about your goals. Jot down possible goals or words about them that come to mind, and do so quickly and freely. Use brainstorming as an opportunity to explore any aspects of any goals you choose.

Don’t stop to correct your spelling, polish a phrase, reorganize your notes, or analyze a thought. Just keep going until you’ve jotted down all that you can think of about your possible goals. Next, look over what you’ve written and group similar items. Formulate each group into a goal by writing a sentence that summarizes its main idea.

Step 2: Plan.

Focus in on one of the goals you’ve arrived at, and write it down as a heading on another clean sheet of paper. Beneath that goal, make a chronological list of all the steps you’ll need to take in order to achieve it.

Step 3: List your strengths.

On another sheet, jot down those academic and personal strengths that will help you achieve your goal. These could include skills you already have or classes you have taken, as well as personal qualities such as discipline and perseverance.

Step 4: Assess your weaknesses.

Identify any academic weaknesses (such as difficulty writing papers) or personal obstacles (such as financial, family, or health problems) that you will have to overcome to reach this goal, and list them either alongside your strengths or on a separate sheet of paper.

What should you do after you’ve completed the steps?

Don’t be surprised if you feel a great sense of relief once you’ve completed these steps. Even if you’re not certain that your goal and your plan are precisely on target,at last you have something concrete that you can adjust and refi ne. You also have an excellent starting point for guidance and advice. Talk with your academic adviser or with a counselor in your school’s career center. Don’t underestimate the value of discussing your goals and your plans for achieving them. Get as much feedback as you can.

Then, if necessary, modify your goals and plans into realistic, attainable maps foryour future. By getting into the goal-setting mode, you can put yourself in control not only of your academic life but also of your life after college.

From Norman Vincent Peale, Positive Imaging. Copyright © 1982. Published by Revell, a division
of Baker Publishing Group. Used with permission.

What should you do if you’re worried that your goals are going to change?

Goals can change. There’s no rule that you can’t rethink your objectives after you’ve defined them. One student seemed genuinely irked that she had to check in with an academic adviser before registering for her first semester of classes.

She knew without a doubt that she wanted to go into dentistry and didn’t feel that she needed advice from anyone.

But the adviser pointed out something she had overlooked. She needed to take an English course in order to meet the college’s distribution requirement.

That course was a revelation. She fell in love with literature and shifted sharply toward a career in publishing, a goal she pursued with the same passion, determination, and planning that she had originally devoted to dentistry.

Yes, goals can change. But that’s no excuse to settle for murky, ill-defined objectives. The skills you develop and the lessons you learn in defining your goals will serve you well, no matter where they wind up taking you.