Picture a 40-something man, high school grad, been working at a variety of blue collar jobs, a wife, two kids, with a third on the way. One morning, he sees his reflection in the mirror and thinks, “What happened to my dream of coaching high school football?” Is it really too late to make it happen?
Many of us, when we take stock of our lives thus far, are loathe to admitting that time has gotten away from us without our achieving all the lofty plans we had in our youth. This is the ultimate example of goal-setting gone wrong. In reality, it’s the lack of goal-setting that is to blame. It’s just daydreaming. A dream, as they say, is a wish. A goal, on the other hand, is a dream with a deadline.
A dream with a deadline. The first step in righting all the goal-setting foibles is to make your goals measurable. Part of the problem for many is not really knowing how to set a goal. Maybe riding along on the roller coaster of life has seemed like the only way to survive. Perhaps someone else has traditionally made the decisions for you, and all you needed to do was follow through. This process seldom leads to satisfying and challenging results.
How then to best set goals and follow them to great results?
The first step is to do some self assessment to determine what it is that you would like to do. What is your passion? What would you rather be doing that really makes you feel alive? You need to buy into the goal, or you will never feel motivated to achieve it. If you need help with this, career or vocational counselors, or personal coaches can be instrumental in sorting this out.
Once you have an idea, it’s time to narrow down the specifics about your goal. If you decided that you still really want to be a high school coach/teacher, find out what that would take, and set some mini-goals or action steps which will lead you surely to that dream realization. You will know when you’re planning and hard work have paid off; because you will be offered a bonafide position at a high school where you would enjoy working. The goal statement and mini steps might look like this:
GOAL: To earn a Secondary Education degree within 4 years.
1. Find a college program and apply for admission by March 1.
2. Fill out a Financial Aid Application (FAFSA) by Feb. 1
3. Once accepted, meet with an advisor and plan your coursework for the first year by June 1.
4. Buy textbooks and supplies by 2 weeks before classes begin.
5. Carve out at least an hour per course for reading/studying per week
6. Revisit these steps and goals monthly to revise and update until goal is met.
The more specific the steps are, with deadlines, logical sequences, concrete actions, and the clearer the ultimate goal, the greater your chance of reaching it. The final goal may seem to you like biting off more than you can chew, but if you can beak it down into bite-sized pieces, even the 32 ounce steak can be savored, one bite at a time.