Mug of coffee sitting on open monthly goal planner.

Success isn’t something that just falls into our laps. It takes hard work and planning. Setting goals is a great way to contribute to that plan, giving you direction, a clear point to focus on, and something to look to for motivation. This can be particularly important when working towards a degree, especially if you have other commitments like a career and family.

Why is goal setting important?

In addition to providing motivation, setting goals helps you prioritize what’s important and, when achieved, can give you a sense of personal satisfaction, especially when the hurdle or obstacle you’ve overcome has been particularly difficult. Some of the benefits of setting goals include:

  1. They help you track progress. Being able to measure how close you are to your goal can help you keep your focus and keep going. If you happen to be struggling, goals can keep you organized, helping you readjust your focus or plan so you can get back on track.
  2. They inspire confidence. It’s much easier to believe in yourself and want to reach for the next goal when you’ve attained success reaching goals you’ve set previously.
  3. They can help you prioritize. We all have busy schedules, so it’s easy for things to get lost in the shuffle of everyday life. Goal setting can keep you organized, so you know what you have time for and what can wait.

How to set and meet your goals

If you’re not sure where to start when making your goals, be sure to start off simple. Don’t set large, time-consuming milestones. Instead, choose small, manageable tasks to tackle first, making it easier to build upon them as you progress.

  1. Be sure your goals are set for you. Don’t set goals based on the expectations of other people or to compete with them. Make sure what you’re striving for is something you really want.
  2. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Don’t make a huge list of goals to reach to start out, even if they are simple ones. Too many can get confusing and divide your focus. Instead, look at the big picture and what your end goal is, then break that down into smaller, digestible steps.
  3. Keep a list. A big part of success revolves around organization. Keep your goals organized by making a list. When you reach one, cross it off. This can be in a planner, a notebook, a whiteboard, or on your computer. Wherever it is, having a visual aid of what you've already accomplished can help you continue working towards the next step, especially if you’re having a tough time.
  4. Don’t be afraid of imperfection. No one likes to miss the mark, but these can be important moments where we learn about ourselves and how to approach what’s next. If you look at a mistake as a learning experience, they don’t have to be something bad.
  5. Reward yourself. Our brains respond to positive reinforcement, so when you do cross a completed goal off your list, give yourself a reward for a job well done. This can be anything from carving out time to watch your favorite TV show, reading a new book, buying something you’ve had your eye on, or just taking some time for yourself.

Reach your goals with Penn Foster

Whether you’re looking to finish high school, start college, find a new job, or add credentials to your resume, Penn Fosters offers affordable, self-paced online classes so you can study in a style that works for your strengths. Set your first goal today by enrolling online or call an Admissions Specialist to learn more.