Setting Goals

Goal – pronounced gōl

Definition: The final purpose or aim; the end to which a design tends, or which a person aims to reach or attain.

Most of us have some recollection of our past. We remember what we have tried, where we have failed, or a time we wished we could have done better. Many of us are also able to identify some things in our present life that are going well and also some things we may wish to change. But some people get stuck here. It may be easy to decide there are things about the past or the present that we don’t like and prefer to be different, yet it may be difficult to know what to do about it. The future, or the unknown, can seem scary.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.”
-Lawrence J. Peter

Luckily, there’s a good tool to help us take control of our futures and provide some direction on where we might be going. Goals are the perfect maps for this purpose. Most of us have heard about goals before but some may feel they lack the ability to set their own goals and therefore, never do.

“You, too, can determine what you want. You can decide on your major objectives, targets, aims and destination.”
– W. Clement Stone

To set your goals, you should first decide what it is you want or at least what it is that you don’t want. Go ahead and dream. What is it you’ve learned from your past and present that you would like to be different? Be careful not to limit yourself at this point. Some people have difficulty with this as they want to make sure they don’t identify something that would seem too unattainable because if they can’t meet that goal, they would feel like a failure.

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”
– Michelangelo

To avoid aiming too low, it’s important to think big and long term. It’s as though you’re thinking about an ending to your life story. What is it you need to accomplish to minimize regrets? The next step would be to create a few intermediate goals that may help you reach the larger goal. If you’re still overwhelmed, create some smaller goals to reach each of those goals. This is beneficial in many ways. For one, it can really boost your confidence in reaching several small goals first before you start to tackle the larger and usually more difficult ones. Secondly, it can keep you motivated to achieve that large goal. Finally, it helps provide the direction and keeps you on the path you desire.

“Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.”
– John Dewey

Don’t be surprised if you often encounter detours on your destination to achieving your goals. Changes can happen frequently in life and goals may need to be adjusted. However, it is important to take the time to really evaluate how this will impact your journey. Write down your goals, share them with others, and review them often.

Still not sure how to design your map and set your goals for the future? There are often people all around you willing to help. Whether it be your therapist, a friend, a teacher or a family member, all can be good resources to help you realize your potential. However, make sure the goals are something you want and not what someone else wants for you. You need to have the passion and devotion to remain dedicated and complete the work necessary to achieve what you want. So don’t waste any time; define your future today.

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”
–Anatole France

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  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
    Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner

  • Jody Johnson, LICSW, LIMHP, began working at Wholeness Healing Center as a therapist in 2007. Jody graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with her Masters in Social Work.  She received her bachelor degree in Social Work from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.


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