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The Importance of Looking Forward and Setting Goals

As we approach the end of the first month of 2021, you may be looking back at the goals you have set at the beginning of the year, or, you may have not set official goals yet. 

If you are in the latter group, you do not have to wait until next year to start setting some meaningful goals. There is, after all, no better time than the present. 

If you have already set your goals for the year, however, read on to find out about how you can help yourself achieve them whilst staying present and enjoying the journey you embark on as you work towards these goals in 2021! 

Why is Goal-Setting So Crucial In our Lives?

Goal setting allows us to focus our energy and time towards growing in our lives. Through setting goals,we are able to build a “path of stepping stones” that help us move towards our vision and better ourselves in aspects of our lives, whether it may be physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, etc. 

Sometimes, especially during the pandemic, we may feel as if we are stuck where we are and we find it difficult to look towards the future and become a better version of ourselves. Through setting personal goals, however, we remind ourselves that, there is something we are able to work towards and look forward to, even in circumstances that are not ideal. 

They also provide us with motivation and lead us on a journey that is filled with opportunities for self-growth, helping us grow into better versions of ourselves. 

So, yes, goal-setting is quite important! 


Common Misconceptions about Goal-Setting: 

  • Our goals have to be grand, or else there is no point in setting them

A goal should not be measured on its grandness, but rather, the goals you choose to set should be based on what is meaningful to you in your life.

-If you choose to set a longer-term goal, in fact, I find it helpful to take the larger goal and break it up into “smaller chunks” to make it more achievable. 

Perhaps, for instance, you wanted to eat healthier this year. Instead of only having a year-long goal, you could break it up into a weekly or monthly goal to have x-number of healthy meals in that specific time frame. As you continue to progress throughout the year, and get into the habit of eating healthy in this case, you may choose to gradually increase the number of healthy meals you consume.

Doing this can also inspire you to set smaller sub-goals such as learning new healthy recipes (in this context) that aid in achieving enhancing your original, main goal!

  • Once goals are set, they are set in stone

Goals, much like your interests, and identity change as you grow and enter different moments in your life. There is no harm in deciding that what you originally set out to accomplish is no longer in your best-interest.

If this is the case, you can easily alter or even completely change your goal to fit your new vision for yourself.

  • The more goals, the better!

This is not necessarily true. As it can often be applied in our lives, less, in fact can be more when it comes to setting goals. While others may find it manageable to set many, most of us would rather devote our time and energy towards one goal first, before setting others. This keeps us from feeling overwhelmed. It also allows us to focus on putting our best effort in achieving the targets that mean the most to us. 

How to Set Good Goals: 

Taking time to set good goals is the first step in becoming closer to achieving them. 

I find it helpful to: 

  1. Take the time to really get to know yourself, what you are passionate about, your strengths and weakness, your personal vision for yourself, and what areas in your life you would want to improve in 
  2. Break your goals up into categories if you find it more helpful (physical, school, mental, relationship, career goals, etc.) 
  3. Keep the SMART goal criteria in the back of your head as you brainstorm goals.

SMART stands for: 

  • Specific
  • Measurable 
  • Attainable
  • Realistic (realistic to YOUR standards, not others! Don’t let what others believe you can’t achieve deter you from achieving what you CAN)
  • Time-bound

         4. Write your goals down on paper 

-I find that, like many, having them physically written down makes them “real.”

You could always write your goals down on sticky notes and stick them around the places you frequent within your room or home to remind yourself of what you are working towards daily!

-Additionally, when you write these goal statements down, focus on ensuring that they are positive goal statements, rather than negative goal statements that are self-critical.

For instance: 

Notice how the negative goal statement does not offer anything helpful as to how you are going to achieve your goal. It only highlights your shortcomings (in this case, a habit you think is bad about yourself). 

The positive goal statement, however, is more specific, and outlines the specifics of how you are going to achieve your goal. 

You want to instill confidence in yourself, not talk yourself down in a negative manner. This is why it is important that the goal statement you have created puts you in a positive mindset with positive intentions! 

Once you take the time in setting and considering how you are going to work towards achieving your goals, you may even choose to: 

  • set up a vision board for your long-term and short-term goals
  • document and track your progress through writing in a journal, making a personal video, or even using an app (Stride is an app that I came across) 
  • reward yourself for the small AND big milestones you achieve throughout your journey
  • partner up with a friend who has a similar goal as you and work towards it together! 
All of these modes are meant to hold you accountable and motivate you, especially on days when you feel less keen on working towards your goals.
Remember, take this journey towards achieving your goals one day at a time! 

Keep In Mind That: 

-You should not get discouraged if you feel that the goal you have set has taken too long and seems unachievable. Remember that ANY progress is progress!

-(If this is a daily goal), do not let missing one day demotivate you to get back on track. This is not meant to be a linear journey. Instead, use these moments to learn more about yourself and how you can put self-motivation into practice. 

-The most important part of setting goals, in fact, occurs while we are on the journey as we grow as a person. Achieving the goal itself, is simply, the cherry on top! 

-You should not compare your success to other people’s success. 

All of us have different conceptions about the true meaning of success, and we are all at various points of our journeys in life, each set on a different path. Because of this, it is important to note that someone else’s success should not AND does not invalidate your own personal successes. 

Be proud of where you are now, and take pride in where you will be in the future. Your progress should be celebrated, not compared. 


“Okay, I completed my goal, now what?”

Congratulations! The beauty of setting goals is that you can never run out of them. 

So, take that first step in achieving a goal by taking time to make one that is meaningful to you. 

Note: The Free Your Mind Mental Health Society is an independent youth-led organization. The contents of this blog are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In the event of a medical emergency, please call your doctor or 911 or other local emergency numbers immediately

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