Set Goals

1. Identify your current goals.
Think about where you are right now. What year are you in school? What is coming up next? Where would you like to be in 6 months? Where would you like to be next year? Quickly jot down 5-10 goals that would help you move forward—don’t worry if you don’t know how you’re going to accomplish them or if you don’t have the information you need yet. In fact one of your goals might be researching the information you need to know to set better goals. Some sample goals might be:
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Register for next semester’s classes. Take a class in ____________________. Write a basic résumé. Search the web for possible employers. Read about careers that would benefit from my skills in __________________.

Take your top three goals (career-related or not) and write them on sticky tabs. Place them everywhere -- on your mirror, on your computer, etc. As you go through the day, think about whether what you are doing is moving you toward one of those goals. If not, stop and think. Is it worth the time you’re spending doing this non-goal-related activity? Only you know the answer.

© 2011 California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office

Set Goals
2. Watch out for goal destroyers.
It’s easy to get side-tracked in the job search process even if you’ve set your goals and are trying to move forward. Take a look at some of these potential goal-destroyers:
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Examine your relationships: Do you have friends or acquaintances who take up a lot of your time while giving back little? Do you have items around that need to be repaired and can’t be used? Do you have a stack of bills waiting to be paid? Are you watching a lot of TV? Spending a lot of time surfing the web? Are you eating too much fast food? When is the last time you got a full night’s sleep? Have you put off exercising?

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So, can you feel your energy draining away as you read this list? That’s the point. All of these activities or events can make you tired mentally before you ever take a step to do anything positive.

Take a look at the list and see if any of the goal-destroyers apply to you. What is one step you could take to reduce or eliminate one of the destroyers? Do it today

© 2011 California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office

Set Goals
3. Eliminate unrealistic goals.
If you’re not achieving some of your goals, it might be because the goals themselves aren’t working for you. Watch out for some of these common unrealistic goals:
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Too-distant goals: “In 10 years I want to be a doctor.” This is a wonderful goal, but the outcome is far off and the amount of work you will have to do between now and then can seem overwhelming. Break this distant goal into smaller time increments, such as each semester. Media-influenced goals: “My favorite show is “Law & Order”; I’m going to be a lawyer.” Make sure you know the real story and not the media version. If you’ve done your research, you know whether this career is really for you. Parent-influenced goals: “My dad will be really pleased if I work for his company.” Parents are a great source of career information and inspiration, but be sure it’s what you want to do as well. Money-oriented goals: “I must have a job that earns at least $50,000.” While there’s nothing wrong with setting monetary goals, your may arbitrarily limit your options for a first job.

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Review your goals to make sure they don’t fall into any of these traps. It’s OK to work at your parent’s company or want to earn a lot of money; just make sure you have selected the goal and move toward it with a flexible mindset.

© 2011 California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office

Set Goals
4. Identify your intentions.
An intention is different from a goal in that goals tend to be specific, with clearly outlined plans for achievement. An intention is more of a guiding force or an attitude—it is a statement of how you would like things to be without necessarily clarifying the details for making it happen. It is a statement of “yes”—meaning that you are open to possibilities related to your intention. Intentions allow you to focus on ideas and ways you’d like to live your life, and set the stage mentally for more directed planning if needed. Intentions are particularly helpful when you don’t know yet exactly what you want or you want something, but don’t know how you’re going to make it happen. Sample intentions you might set related to a job search could be:
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I am seeking a great summer opportunity. I intend to learn something new today about the field of ______________. I intend to calmly go through the job search process. I want my job search to go smoothly.

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Instead of writing goals, try writing some intentions that describe the experiences you are open to.

© 2011 California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office

Set Goals
5. Use problems as the start of solutions.
When you feel surrounded by insurmountable problems, try rephrasing them into goals and look for possible solutions. Think of each problem you encounter as a temporary hurdle—something which may slow you down but which you can conquer. For instance, maybe one problem you’re facing is that you don’t know who the employers might be for your field of interest. So since your problem is you “can’t identify potential employers”, then that’s your goal: “I’m going to identify 10 possible employers.” Now it’s just a matter of brainstorming some ideas for achieving that goal. Maybe you will start with a visit to your career center for some assistance, or maybe you will contact someone working in your field of interest, or perhaps you will go online and search for jobs in your field of interest and notice what organizations are hiring.

Identify a problem you’ve had with your job search. Can you turn it into a goal? Now, start identifying some possible solutions or steps to achieving the goal you just created. Do one step today.

© 2011 California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office

Set Goals
6. Analyze your first year of higher education.
Whether you’re currently in your first year of higher education or it is behind you, take a few minutes to review what you learned.
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Start by writing down the courses you took. • Do you recall any particular skills or knowledge you acquired through them? • For instance, did you learn to conduct research, or write a paper, or use a spreadsheet?

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Did you acquire new experiences such as a job, volunteer activity, or join a student organization? • What did you learn from those experiences? • Did you take on a leadership role? • Did you do anything that you might want to put on a résumé?

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What challenges did you face and overcome? What was your best accomplishment during the year?

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Note any important features to your first year of school—what would you tell an employer about your first year of school?

© 2011 California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office

Set Goals
7. Analyze your second year of higher education.
Whether you’re in the second year of your program currently or already finished it, be sure you analyze it for all the value it has provided you.
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Start by writing down the courses you took. • Do you recall any particular skills or knowledge you acquired through them? • For instance, did you learn to conduct research, or write a paper, or use a spreadsheet?

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Did you acquire new experiences such as a job, volunteer activity, or join a student organization? • What did you learn from those experiences? • Did you take on a leadership role? • Did you do anything that you might want to put on a résumé?

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What challenges did you face and overcome? What was your best accomplishment during the year?

If you haven’t completed your second year of schooling yet, consider what courses you would like to take and what experiences you would like to acquire.

Note any significant growth in your experiences, skills, or knowledge that you might want to mention to an employer. If you haven’t completed your second year, you still have time to set some goals for what you’d like to accomplish.

© 2011 California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office

Set Goals
8. Develop your long-term goals.
Long term goals take at least a semester to complete—and maybe a year or more. They are important goals to set, but because they are so far in the future it’s hard to stay focused on them. Sometimes there’s a tendency to think “oh that’s way in the future- I don’t need to think about it now.” But the truth is that you will find your long-term goals more achievable in the future if you start working on them now. For instance, maybe you have a goal of ultimately going to law school. While that may be many years away, your actions now (such as the classes you select and the grades you get) can have a great influence not only on whether you’ll get into law school, but which law schools you will qualify for. So that you don’t get caught in the far-away goal: consider setting up an enabling goal. An enabling goal is a short-term goal that will help you achieve the long term goal. So, for instance, if you are thinking of becoming a lawyer someday, maybe your enabling goal this semester would be to take a writing class so you can improve your writing skills (since lawyers write a lot).

Identify one of your long-term goals and write down one or two things you could do now to move toward the successful completion of that goal.

© 2011 California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office

Set Goals
9. When your goals change—move on.
One of the dangers of goal-setting is the tendency to assume that once you’ve set a goal it is somehow set in stone and that it’s a bad thing to change it. Nothing could be more untrue. Goals are meant to breathe—to change and adapt along with you. As you move toward your goals, you often learn more about them and collect information that helps you make better decisions. At some point you may learn that the goal is no longer valid for you for whatever reason. At that point, there’s no need to stick with it—just decide what’s next instead. If the goal no longer works for you remove it. Make sure any list of goals you created hasn’t gotten stale or out of date. Updating your goals regularly is a good habit to get into.

Think about the goals you started school with. Are they still valid? Are you still pursuing the same career, major or classes that you started with? If not, what have you switched to? How have your goals changed? Make sure you’re not clinging to outdated goals.

© 2011 California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office

Set Goals
10. Surround yourself with ideal tools to achieve your goals.
Make it easy to attain your goals. Let’s say your goal is to play golf by the end of the year. You’ve taken a step by signing up for a physical education course in golf. Now what? Try taking a look around your room. What in your room (or your close personal space) supports that goal? Do you have golf clubs? Are they readily available? If you have to look around and dig for the items that you need, you are less likely to move forward on your goals.

Take a look at the three goals you identified previously (see card 1 in the goal setting set).
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What items do you need to move toward achieving those goals? Do you have them? Are they easily accessible? What changes could you make to make them more accessible and increase the odds that you will use them?

© 2011 California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office

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