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Setting Personal and Academic Goals

Written By: Jacqueline Nguyen

Jackie is currently a freshman at the University of Washington with an intended major in nursing. She enjoys exploring new things by going on adventures and helping others through volunteer work.

"Hey Mentor has given me opportunities and access to amazing connections, college readiness materials, and walked me through challenges as a first-generation college applicant. Through receiving assistance during those confusing times, I learned how much the mentors cared for my success and I ultimately wanted to do the same. By having mentees of my own I came to realize how much I learn from them as well."



By setting up personal and academic goals it will allow you to visualize your purpose and will assist you to persevere and thrive. As you progress throughout life, you will be presented with numerous challenges and obstacles to undergo. You may ask yourself, "What do I want to achieve?", "How I will achieve this?", "How might I overcome this obstacle presented to me?", "Is this possible?", "What happens if I fail?", "what will I do next?". To be blunt, I ask these questions every day. I will share with you what has been working for me!

Consider Using the Smart Goal System

Try organizing and assessing your goals by using the SMART method:

S-pecific or significance: Who, What, Where, When Why

M-easurable: How do I know?

A-ttainable: Do I have the ability? Have others done it before?

R-ealistic: Is the goal reachable?

T-ime or Trackable: Do I have a deadline?

Throughout your college experience and your new-found independence, you will have to make many choices. Your objective will have to be well-defined and ambiguous so that you know exactly what you, yourself, desire. With a clear goal in mind, what criteria can help you measure your progress? There are many ways you can measure your progress such as writing in a journal, checking your grades, making a list and checking them off one by one. I know sometimes we possess different types of goals that exist, but ensuring that the goal is not impossible to accomplish can encourage you to stay focused and driven knowing it is something that can be met with hard work and dedication. After high school, you will feel as though life is moving fast, so make sure that you are managing your time wisely as well as clearly implementing a timeline to create a sense of urgency to complete those goals you may have.

During this year, the majority of us had to alter our way of learning, fight and educate ourselves about our own country's societal and systemic oppression, all while encountering uncertainty as the coronavirus continuously spread. With all that, I fell into a spiral of questioning my purpose. My academic goal looks somewhat different now: a SMART goal of mine when first entering college was to finish college within 4-5 years with a degree in nursing at the University of Washington and eventually specialize in gynecology. I wanted to accomplish this goal because I wanted to improve women's healthcare. I could measure my progress by maintaining my grades and keeping a journal to record the journey every day. I must pass my classes and keep a balanced lifestyle so that I do not get overwhelmed. Although the college experience has come with challenges so far, I continue to look back at my goal to remind me to keep going. Do you have a current academic or personal goal?

1. Setting Up Long-Term Goals

Setting up goals for the long run enables the general idea that structures all of the other decisions you might make. Select goals in broad categories such as education, family, physical, personality, volunteer work, finances, social, emotional, and more.

2. Setting Up Short-Term Goals

Setting up short term goals can help you overcome challenges as they arise. Short term goals can also aid in long-term goals. This can be a daily plan, to-do-list, 1-2 year plan. This can include reading course materials, working out 1 hour a day, etc.

3. What Motivates Me

Have you ever thought about what keeps you going? Did you know that motivation is essential to our development and goal perseverance, whether it makes intrinsic or extrinsic motivation? I was wondering, who keeps you driven? For me, my hardworking mother is a huge motivating factor for me to continue my education. By seeing her work so hard for me, I see how crucial the role of a mother plays within society.

4. What to Do Next

If you find that your goal is too easy to accomplish, try something harder to challenge yourself. If it's too difficult to accomplish, try to alter short-term goals first then ultimately adjusting your long-term goal. Success can take many forms and there is not always a direct path to find them. Another way to think of this is there are different definitions of success. For me, I know that I want to become a nurse, and that is what I want to achieve. However, if I do not meet my goal, I did not fail, my goal just had changed.

How do you define failure? How do you define success?

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