Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Setting Goals to Achieve More

"How can you expect to hit a target you can’t see?" – Zig Ziglar

When you work do you have a specific, definable goal that you are working for? If you don’t, how can you know if you are getting closer to reaching it? How much material will you have covered by a certain date?

You need to have some goals to get things done, really done.

The advantages to having specific, realistic, dated goals are abundant:

  • They let you see if you are on track or if you need to pick up the pace.
  • They give you focus, allowing you to accomplish specific tasks.
  • They keep you calm by putting your tasks into smaller, manageable bundles. As opposed to looking at a huge list of everything you have to do, freaking out, screaming/crying, eating ice cream, and having nothing accomplished 2 days later.
  • They drive you towards the completion of tasks. You can just look at your goals and you will know what you have to do, which will increase the chance that you will accomplish it. They will remind you to continue to chip away at a goal until it is complete, simply because you want to cross it off your list.

I think you get the point.

To solidify this, I’ll give you some personal examples. I do practice what I preach.

For this site, I told myself: I will have 15 posts by April 2, 2006. I put this sign on my bulletin board, right in front f my chair with a little tally underneath it. I made this goal about a month ago, as I planned to have a new post every 2 days or so. Initially, I was quite ahead of schedule; however, after a series of outings, I fell slightly behind. After looking at my goal, I realized I had some catching up to do and produced a few more posts fairly quickly.

It is important to note that I actually did not post one of them because I didn’t feel it was up to par with the other posts. Don’t work for the sake of working; remember the essence of your goal.

I didn’t want 15 bad posts by April 2, nor did I want 14 good posts and one poor post. I actually meant 15 quality posts. Maybe I should have added that in, but I knew what I meant. As of the time of this post, this will be my 13th “real” post. Which means I’m exactly on pace for reaching my goal.

Switching back to academia: It would be better to say, “I will cover 3 chapters of chemistry well” and do it, rather than covering 5 chapters inadequately. If you were to do that, then what would be the point of all of this?

For a personal academic goal, as I mentioned before, I would like to improve my anatomy practical mark. Now my goal is to get 90% on the final practical exam.

This is a fairly lofty goal from where I stand, but I know how much work it will take to achieve this (in terms of effort and time), so I still think this goal is very achievable. I’ll update you later on how well I have reached my goal.

Do not be afraid to aim higher than usual, to stretch yourself more than normal. You might surprise yourself.

I remember reading a quote in my middle school class a long time ago. “Aim for the moon, because even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” Even in middle school I thought it was cheesy. I remember also thinking that the person who said that didn’t realize how far away we are from the rest of the stars (I was a bit of a smart-ass). Those points aside, there is a good point in there: Aim far. The worst that can happen is that you learn something and improve.

I know that goal setting can have the same benefits for you as it does for me. Get it done, write down your specific, definable, time-stamped goal. Remember to challenge yourself and work hard at it. With determination, I know you’ll reach your goals.

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At 11:12 PM, Anonymous ellie said...

oh joshy, how i love this little blog of yours.
i must say my favourite part of keeping a list of things to do is the absolute giddiness i feel when i get to cross something off of said list. if it took me a long time, i may even put 2 lines through it--just to show that i really did accomplish it. if i worked on it for three days, i scribble the hell out of that mofo list!
i personally like keeping all academic "to-dos" written directly in my day planner, and keep a list of all the other things i have to do on a post-it note. every week, a new post-it. you even get the satisfaction of crumpling up the post-it and throwing it into the garbage when you finish it all :)


At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Jessica said...

"It is better to aim for the stars and miss than to aim for a pile of manure and hit."

ps- your blog rocks my socks

At 11:53 PM, Blogger Joshua Hwang said...

Thank you for your compliments, my ego could always use some stroking.

If you saw how many to-do lists I had in my room, you might get a little scared.

Well, after I put those anatomy slides in my room, people aren't phased by that much anymore.

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