Setting Goals

When we ring in a new year, many seize the opportunity to set new goals and resolutions. Are you one of these people who set goals annually? In full disclosure, I have never been the type of person who likes to make new year’s resolutions. Even as a teenager I would make a goal and the year would slip by and I often did not even start on the goal. Over the years I have learned that my goals were not goals but wishes. I learned setting goals requires effort and work to achieve them. Some goals can be achieved quickly and others take much more time and effort. Other goals may have many starts and stops along the way, regardless of how many times you start a goal they can be achieved with enough dedication and time.

I am constantly seeking ways to improve myself both as an individual and as a professional.  Career goals should support life goals. Your goals set the direction for you to travel in, they are your compass, providing focus and direction. Without direction we float adrift, often waiting for things to happen. The reality is that things rarely just happen. It takes effort and work. When it comes to goal setting, it starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve and ends with the hard work to do it.

3 Steps to Setting Goals:

1.            Set goals that motivate you

Choose goals that are important to you. When you choose something important to you and that interests you, you are naturally more motivated to work to achieve that goal.

Some goals are open-ended, meaning that they are ongoing, others require timelines. Be prepared for the detours and the priority shift from time to time.

2.            Set SMART GOALS

A smart goal means that the goals have the 5 following attributes: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timebound. It does no good to set a goal and then not attach and accountability to the steps needed to achieve that goal.

For years I had wanted to earn my bachelor’s degree and MBA. Raising a young family and supporting an ex-husband while he pursued his graduate school goals forced me to put my goals on hold. I always felt that ‘someday’ I would reach my goals. I did the very thing we are advised not to do. I did not set a timeline with a measurable plan. It wasn’t until I meet with a college advisor, created a plan, and signed up for classes that my goal started to take action. Like many goals, there were challenges along the way. Balancing raising a young family, volunteer work, and class schedule took organization and dedication.

During this time, I also had set another goal to learn to run. I embarked on a weight loss journey; I had never been a runner. Let me say that I have a love/hate relationship with running. I love how I feel after a run but truly do not enjoy running on a treadmill. To reach this goal I had to set small measurable steps. The first step was to be able to run for 30 seconds, then 1-minute, and so on working my way up to the distance of being able to run a quarter-mile without stopping. Next, the goal was to run for a half-mile without stopping, until eventually, I was able to run 5-miles under 60 minutes without stopping.

Regardless of how minuscule the goal seems to do, be sure to set measurable steps so that you stay motivated and accountable, seeing the progress keeps you motivated.

3. Stick with It!

Goal setting is an ongoing activity. Your action plan can and will change along the way. Challenges will come, the best way to reach our goals is persistence. Success doesn’t just happen; successful people work at reaching their goals.

Pick out a goal that you have been wanting to achieve. Break it down into small manageable steps and start today! A goal without a plan is just a wish.

By: Cheryl Viola, Executive Director, MBA


Retrieved from

Duke, P. L. (2016, September 27). 6 tips for goal-setting that, trust me, they don’t teach you in college. Retrieved from

Golden rules of goal setting: Five rules to set yourself up for success. (n.d.). Retrieved from