Dr. Jeff & Dr. Brian Haig - The Experts in College Planning and Student Success.

The Power of Goal-Setting

     Goal-setting is an important habit to get into for effective college planning. If you want to have more success with college acceptances and earn a lot of scholarships along the way, then the powerful habit of goal-setting is essential. It’s a proven fact that by setting clear, specific, and time-dependent goals, you greatly increase your chances of accomplishing those goals. Thinking and talking about your goals isn’t enough to set into motion the actions necessary to achieve them. Only by articulating your goals in detail, and setting specific timelines in which to accomplish them, can you create an effective game plan. And once you’re clear about what it will take to achieve your goals, you’ll be much more focused and determined to do so.

Study after study has shown that those who set goals, especially written goals, have a vastly greater chance of achieving them than those who don’t. In fact, less than 5 percent of people ever bother to set goals, and less than 1 percent write their goals down. And not coincidentally, this is the same small and very accomplished group who are the peak-performing individuals of our society. It’s then an amazing fact of reality that if you engage in the simple act of goal-setting, and if you’re really serious and committed to doing so, you’ll be well on your way to joining this very accomplished group! You will be successful in school, you will have more success in the admissions process, and you will be more likely to have a fulfilling career where you will be able to make a meaningful and positive impact.

Goals give you a sense of meaning and purpose. With goals, you will be going through life by design instead of floating around like a leaf on a breeze letting chance and circumstance dictate your life’s outcome. If you don’t have goals, you are not living, you’re just reacting, existing, and coasting. And when you coast, you are always going downhill. So, goals focus your energy, they keep you from wasting time, money, energy, and they keep you pointed in a forward-driven, action-oriented direction. They keep you focused on things that matter most and help get you to where you desire to be. The world is full of distractions, and goals allow you to focus your life on the important things, and to forget about the rest. And the reality is if you want the most happiness, prosperity, and success in life, developing a goal-setting mindset is a must! Simply, clear goals enable you to release your full potential for personal and professional success!

But how do you set goals effectively, and successfully? Below are seven steps for successfully setting effective goals and accomplishing them!

1) Set goals that are consistent with what you truly desire

     First, you must set goals that are consistent with what you truly desire. Setting goals that aren’t in harmony with your passions in life will only lead to a compromised performance and a lack of motivation to achieve those goals. But if you set goals that are consistent with what you’re truly passionate about, then your drive to achieve them will be unsurpassed. You have to ask yourself what you really want to do in your life, and what do you want to accomplish. And you must be clear and specific. The goal has to also be believable and achievable. The goal cannot be too big or outlandish that it is unattainable.

In order for this goal-setting step to work though, the goal must be something you personally desire with great intensity—not anyone else desires, but that you desire.

2) Set goals that are realistic and believable

     The second rule for effective goal-setting is to set goals that are realistic and believable. This means setting goals that might be a stretch for you to achieve, but that you believe you can attain with enough hard work and persistence. By stretching yourself, you may have to set goals that will take you out of your comfort zone and require you to push yourself more than you may be used to.

And lastly, it means setting many smaller, short-term goals that will allow you to ultimately achieve your greater, long-term ambitions. If, for instance, you desire to attend a particular very competitive college, it’s unrealistic for you to make that a long-term goal if you don’t set short-term goals to perform well in your classes. However, if you set small short-term goals to maintain a specific grade-point average, then your long-term goal of attending a strong college will become much more attainable.

3) Write your goals down

     The third rule for effective goal-setting is to write your goals down. A goal that is not in writing is not a goal, but a desire that has a less chance of being accomplished. Research has shown that one of the most important factors in goal-setting is to have clearly defined goals that are written down. You can accomplish much more if you see your goals on paper than if you just carry them around in your head. And the more specific, detailed, and clear you are in your plan to reach your goals, the more likely you are to accomplish them. 

4) Set specific deadlines by which to reach your goals

     The fourth rule for effective goal-setting is to set specific deadlines by which to reach them. Deadlines are a “best guess” of when you feel you will achieve your goal. Setting deadlines activates your subconscious to start thinking about what it will take for you to achieve your goals. Then, once you’re clear about what you’ll need to do to achieve your goals, your subconscious will then set into motion the actions that you’ll need to take to make your dreams become reality. Also, keep in mind that a goal without a deadline is only a wish. Deadlines create action and momentum toward the accomplishment of a goal. And deadlines ensure that goals get achieved at a specific time. 

5) Have a clear plan of action

     The fifth factor in effective goal-setting is to have a clear plan of action. This means knowing in detail the necessary actions, along with the people whose help you’ll need to achieve your goals. For example, if you plan on forming a school club, find out what administrative paperwork you’ll need to complete, whom you’ll need to contact, and where and when the club will meet. You should also write down all this information and set specific deadlines in which to reach each goal. Again, the more detailed and clear you are about your goals, the more likely you’ll achieve them.

6) Visualize your goals continuously

     The sixth factor in effective goal-setting is to visualize your goal continuously. Continuously think about your goal, and even imagine that you have already accomplished it. Next, imagine the feelings that you will have when your goal is achieved. How will you feel? What emotions will you have? Each time you visualize your goal, along with imagining the emotions you will feel when attaining a specific goal, you program your goal deeper and deeper into your subconscious mind.

Additionally, to help you visualize your goal, cut out pictures from magazines and newspapers that are consistent with your goals. Hang them up, look at them regularly, and talk about your goals with others. What you achieve in life begins with a mental picture first of what exactly you desire.

7) Never, ever give up in the pursuit of your goals

     The seventh factor in effective goal-setting is to never, ever give up in the pursuit of your dreams. You can look at any successful person in history and it is an absolute certainty that they overcame setbacks and obstacles. In fact, failure is an inevitable part of the success formula. With any worthwhile goal or ambition, you must realize that to succeed you can expect to experience failure. Some of the greatest success stories in history were preceded by some of the worst failures.

Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure. — Napolean Hill

The only real difference between winners and losers is that the winners keep picking themselves up after experiencing defeat and continue pushing forward toward their goals, while the losers just give up. Those who choose to be successful choose to persevere through setbacks and obstacles because they know that success is theirs for the taking if they just try hard enough.

Don’t view failure as shameful or discouraging; actually, failure can be one of your greatest assets. Through failure you become wiser, more confident, and stronger in character—and, of course, that much closer to success.

To succeed in achieving your goals you must never see any obstacle as too difficult or impossible. View every obstacle as a learning experience and as something you can overcome with enough persistence and hard work. Part of the strategy of overcoming setbacks and obstacles is to identify them before you encounter them—because once you’ve identified them, they become much easier to deal with.

In relation to your educational goals, it’s important to realize that it’s not the momentary defeats that make the real difference in your educational journey, it’s the ultimate accomplishment of achieving your goals. They’re yours for the taking if you just work hard enough, stay determined and focused, and have a never-give-up attitude!

Goal-setting is truly a powerful and life-altering habit, and it has the potential to radically change your life for the better. Goal-setting is simple, takes little time out of your schedule, and is something you can start immediately! The research is clear on the enormous benefits of goal-setting. If you want to accomplish your ambitions and dreams in life and unleash your full potential, it’s important to realize that goal-setting is one of the surest and quickest ways to achieve them.