Adulting 101 (A Six-Part Series), Part 2a Goal Setting – Education to Career

By: Danielle Funderburg, SEMCA Young Professionals Program (SYPP) Coordinator and Wayne RESA Board Member

Confession time: When I started this blog, in my head, I would write a new section of this series each week. Welp! Life started ‘life-ing’, and what was a priority got pushed back by more demanding ones. Here I am, 3-1/2 months later, so, as I’m writing to you, I’m talking to myself. 

As with anything, preparation, planning, and performance are keys you’ll need to stay on track. But FIRST you’ve got to write it down!  Writing it down helps it stick and makes it an actionable item. It brings it out of the dream/thought state into the material/tangible realm. Use a notebook, reminders on your phone, or computer to help you stay organized and keep your goals in front of you.  If it’s still in your head, it’s still just a dream.  

Next determine whether it’s a project or a task. A project is usually a long-term goal that takes several steps and more time. A task is something that you should be able to do in a few hours, often called a short-term goal. Once you’ve made that determination, start, and end your day by adding and deleting tasks off a TO DO LIST.  You can prioritize your goals by urgency and connectivity to other tasks. Rating them high, medium, or low priority or giving them a numeric rating system helps. For instance, you may want to buy a car, but you don’t have a driver’s license or money saved to make the purchase. Getting your license and saving become priority short-term goals to a long-term goal. This may seem foolish, but it’s a necessary thought process to get you to an end goal. And if done right, can be applied to any challenge or situation you may face. 

An effective and commonly used method is S.M.A.R.T. GOALS

Create goals that are: 

  • Specific—Keep them simple and clear so you know what you need to do to get started. 
  • Measurable—Helps you know when you’ve accomplished the goal, and you can track progress. 
  • Achievable—Is it the step you must take something that can be truly accomplished or too lofty. 
  • Realistic—Can you accomplish the goal without getting overwhelmed, frustrated, and stressed?  
  • Timely—Set a date and time to motivate and inspire you to stay focused to finish.  

This method can be applied to any project (goal) you set. And since we are focusing on Education to Career Here’s an example: And because this is a project (long-term goal) you will have more than one goal to accomplish. 

  • I want a 2-year degree in the Healthcare industry by the end of the year 2025. I’ll enroll in school January 2024 and complete 4-semesters of classes. 
  • Yes—By enrolling in my class(es) in January I will know I’ve accomplished my goal of starting my journey for this degree after having been in school four consecutive semesters. 
  • Yes—This is achievable by first investigating and identifying my school of choice and the career choice, enrolling by winter semester January 2024. 
  • Yes— it’s realistic but you will have to break this down into smaller more manageable goals for maximum success. 
  • Yes—I can hold myself accountable to finish by the end of fall semester December 2025. 

Tips when making goals: 

  • Write it down. It makes it actionable and adds accountability. 
  • Determine whether your goal is a project or task goal. This will help you make better actionable tasks. 
  • Break down projects into more manageable attainable goals and then tasks. 
  • Surround yourself with people who will encourage you, help you and hold you accountable when you’re getting frustrated, face a barrier, or slacking off. 
  • If you miss a deadline, don’t beat yourself up. Acknowledge the setup back, set a new date and keep moving forward. 
  • Learn to balance working hard and playing hard. This will keep you motivated and grounded. 
  • Reward yourself when you’ve finished a goal. 
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