It’s back-to-school season! The kids have got their new supplies, clothes and shoes, equipped for a new year of hopes, possibilities and goals.They’re taking new classes, playing on new teams, joining new clubs, meeting new friends. As summer fades into fall and we turn another page in the calendar, September can be seen as the month of new beginnings. 

OK, so maybe you’re not a kid any more and maybe it feels like you’re in a bit of a rut with your job and overall life schedule, but this is an opportunity to start something new. It’s never too late to learn and grow.

You could explore a new hobby or career training with an evening or weekend class at Maplewood Career Center or a regional college campus. You could join a professional organization, civic club or church group. Or you could finally get serious about getting in shape and improving your well-being with a fitness program or gym membership. Maybe you’ve always wanted to travel to a certain country or landmark, but never got around to planning the trip.

Everyone has a different set of hopes and wishes. They’ll remain vague and untouchable until you express them to yourself as actual goals attached to short- and long-term timelines.

According to, goal-setting not only allows you to take control of your life’s direction; it also provides a benchmark for determining whether you’re succeeding. Goal-setting is a process that starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve, and requires hard work to accomplish it. Along the way are five well-defined steps that transcend the specifics of each goal:


1. Set Goals that Motivate You

When you set goals for yourself, it’s important that they motivate you. They must be important to you, and you must find value in achieving them. Goal achievement requires commitment, so to maximize the likelihood of success, you need to feel a sense of urgency and have an “I must do this” attitude. To make sure your goal is motivating, write down why it’s valuable and important to you.


2. Set SMART Goals

For goals to be powerful, they should be designed to be SMART:





Time Bound


3. Set Goals in Writing

The physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible. You have no excuse for forgetting about it. As you write, use the word “will” instead of “would like to” or “might.” Post your goals in visible places to remind yourself daily what you intend to do. Post them on your walls, desk, computer monitor, bathroom mirror or refrigerator as a constant reminder.


4. Make an Action Plan

Don’t get so focused on the outcome that you forget to plan all the steps needed along the way. By writing out individual steps, and then crossing each one off as you complete it, you’ll enjoy making measurable progress toward your ultimate goal.


5. Stick With It!

Goal-setting is an ongoing activity; not just a means to an end. Build in reminders to keep yourself on track, and review your goals regularly. Your end destination may remain similar over the long term, but the action plan you set for yourself along the way can change significantly. Make sure the relevance, value, and necessity remain high.


Goal-setting is much more than simply wishing something to happen. Unless you clearly define exactly what you want and understand why you want it the first place, your odds of success are considerably reduced. By following the five rules of goal-setting, you can set goals confidently and enjoy the satisfaction that comes along with knowing you’ve achieved what you set out to do in the beginning.

And if you’re feeling especially generous, you can share these steps with your kids when they get stumped this new school year.