Setting goals is one way to consciously design your life. Without taking the time to define your deeply held dreams and turn them into objectives, you may miss lucrative opportunities to achieve them.

If you’re currently studying, you’re already probably pursuing a goal. However, it might have been a while since you checked in with the motivation behind all your hard work. Without regular reminders, it’s easy to lose sight of what you’re even working towards.

Remember, a whole world exists beyond educational attainment. That’s why well-rounded people don’t just have goals for their studies and their future careers. They also have objectives that relate to their hobbies and the lifestyle that they want to enjoy post-graduation. Read on for some inspiration so that you can craft and commit to your own long-term goals.

Personal goals

To decide on your personal goals, you must really think about your passions in life. What drives you? What fills you with excitement?

Some people base their personal goals around travel. They love to experience new cultures and challenge themselves in unusual environments. A long-term goal related to travelling might be to visit every continent in the world or to visit a specific list of countries before a certain milestone.

If you have a hobby that’s meaningful to you, you can set relevant goals. For example, someone who practices karate might aim to reach black belt level. A person that loves to dance might aim to conquer a particularly difficult style, such as salsa.

Learning another language is a personal goal that also brings career benefits. You might set the goal of learning Spanish before you graduate. How you choose to quantify this goal is up to you. Success might be achieving a particular certificate, but it could equally be holding a fluent conversation with a stranger. They’re your goals, so you set the terms!

Runners might set their sights on completing a marathon. Even if you’re not especially athletic, you can set yourself a long-term goal and train yourself towards it. The key to setting a personal goal is choosing a challenge that you’d derive significant satisfaction from overcoming.

Education goals

While studying, your long-term goal might be as simple as passing your course and receiving your qualification. That’s perfectly valid! However, you might get more from your educational experience if you set yourself other, more specific goals.

For example, maybe you’d like to obtain a certain grade in a class that particularly interests you. If there’s an assignment that’s out of your comfort zone, use this to identify your strengths and weaknesses. A long-term goal could be to reinforce the skills and qualities that you currently feel you lack.

Some students may aspire to have an academic paper published on their specialist subject. This would be a measurable and manageable long-term goal to set yourself. However, it takes research, planning, and dedication to achieve. That’s why it’s good to set an objective; it’s unlikely to occur by accident!

Educational goals can extend beyond university, too. There are plenty of online courses you could pursue in your free time, and that independent study experience is valuable whether your chosen course complements your main studies or not.

If studying at your chosen educational institution was a life goal for you, then you may have already achieved it. Congratulations! But remember, learning is for life. Educational goals shouldn’t disappear from view as soon as you graduate. Look for opportunities to pursue your curiosity. Why not write down a list of topics that interest you, and pledge to read one book about each topic every year?

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Career and lifestyle goals

An obvious career goal would be to obtain a certain position or eventually earn a specific salary. You may already have your “dream job” in mind, but have you thought about the organization you’d most like to work with? Have you considered the country you’d most like to live in? These questions can help you refine your goal further.

Everyone has different priorities. Some people are motivated by material achievements; others value their time and their freedom above all else. It’s good to reflect on what success looks like to you. After all, you don’t want to end up a high-status businessperson working late nights and Saturdays if what you really crave is work-life balance and plenty of family time.

Your career goal might be to be your own boss. Once you know that, you can immediately start pursuing opportunities that develop your entrepreneurial skills. Your career path should look distinct from someone who is intent on climbing a company ladder. That’s because different goals drive different decisions.

If your long-term goal is to maintain good health as much as possible, you can start making strategic decisions right now. For example, you might implement a fitness regime, follow a balanced diet, or avoid alcohol consumption. It’s never too early to start working towards that particular objective!

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Setting goals

Goal setting should serve you, not scare you. The purpose of setting long-term goals is to help you make difficult decisions and use your time wisely.

It doesn’t mean you should expect life to perfectly follow your plan, though. Be willing to make adjustments as unexpected challenges and opportunities arise. Moving to Plan B when something falls through doesn’t make you a failure; it makes you resourceful.

When you look at your long-term goals as a student, they may seem incredibly distant. A good way to make them more relevant to your life right now is to break them down into short-term goals that you can start on straight away.

For example, if you want to write a novel one day, you might start by attending a writing class or committing to writing for an hour a week. If you want to retire by the age of 50, you could set yourself the short-term goal of researching different pension plans and opening a savings account.

Don’t underestimate the power of setting intentions. After all, who do you think is more likely to achieve their goal: the person who puts it to the back of their mind, nurturing vague hopes that it may someday come true? Or the person who writes it down, thinks about it from all angles, and starts to take small steps every day to make it happen?

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