Why should you set goals for your career and life? Setting goals gives you a strong sense of where you want to go and will help you:
- Know when you are off track
Imagine arriving on the outskirts of a large city and being told to drive to a particular home or office there. But there are no road signs and you have no map. In fact, all you have is a very general description of the home or office, so finding it would be very much a matter of luck. Sadly, this is the way most people live their lives.
As you may know, my daughter Jill teaches special education. As she explains in this guest post, growing up with me pushing her to set goals was a bit of a challenge. On the other hand, she is doing what she set as a life goal many years ago.
When I was growing up my father made me set goals every year and write them down. (He also made me write book reports during the summer). He spent what then seemed like countless hours lecturing me on the importance of setting goals in my life. He always said it is important to be aiming at something you think is important. Oh, he used to drive me crazy. I felt like I was one of the young lawyers who worked for him and who he was trying to inspire to be a great lawyer. For a long time, I rejected what he was telling me. I would prove to him I could be successful without writing down goals.
I never realized what an impact he had on me until a few years ago. While looking through some old papers I found a list of lifetime goals I had written in high school. (I never told my father I had actually written down goals as he had suggested.) I had not thought about these written goals in many years. When I looked, I saw that my number one lifetime goal was to become a special education teacher. I had achieved my number one goal! I was excited when I found I had actually done what I had set out to do years before!
My father advocated coming up with goals every year and having lifetime goals. Each year, I write 10 professional goals and right beside them 10 things I want to do in my “real life”—life outside of school. My “real life” goals can be financial, spiritual or things to do with my family. One of the reasons I write down my goals side by side is because, as I learned from my father, both parts of my life are equally important. As teachers, we often forget that we have lives outside of school because we spend so much time working during the school year.
I think Jill’s approach is one that would also work for you. I guess that is natural for me to say since it is based on me “driving her crazy” while she was growing up.