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With the new school year right around the corner, I thought it would be cool to write about goals. September brings a mix of emotions for a variety of reasons: new school, new level of pressure, new teachers, (or vice versa) new students, the list goes on. Novelty means change and change means uncertainty, or, excitement. Either way, if we’re at the start of a journey, how do we define where we’re going? Goals.

Well, what are goals? Google’s primary definition describes the posts that form a space through which players can score in numerous sports (including football). While these aren’t the kind of goals I’m talking about (for once), this very literal example is incredibly useful for our more figurative discussion. If there were no goal posts on a football field, players would run around in circles, never scoring. If life is our playing field, how will we ever score, succeed, arrive or celebrate without our own goal posts? There are infinite inspirational quotes about goals. One of the most relevant for this discussion comes from American speaker Earl Nightingale: “People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going”. Erling Haaland scores so often in football because, as the saying goes, he knows where the goal is. People achieve in life when they know what their goal is.

Another definition of the word goal is the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. We have hopefully clarified why goals are important but how on earth do we discover what our goals should be? What is worth our ambition or effort? Where do goals come from? Dreams, perhaps? Social psychologist Bo Bennett said, “A dream becomes a goal when action is taken toward its achievement”. This is incredibly reassuring. Our dreams can often feel far-fetched or even impossible. However, our dreams become reality through small, usually consistent, often achievable steps. Simply writing your dream down or clearly articulating it to someone you trust might be the first action you need to take in order to transform it into a goal.

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If you’re feeling uncertain about the year ahead, I’d encourage you to ask yourself: do I have a goal? If not, do I have any dreams? I presume most of us would be more likely to answer yes to the latter. Dreams are comforting, perhaps vague ideas of what our lives might look like in the future. Goals are planned, defined and deadline-d realities. As scary as it might be to set yourself goals and introduce the possibility of missing, I'd argue missing is far less scary than having no idea where you’re going. Use resources like the goal ladder to break your goal down into manageable milestones. Think about who might be able to help and hold you accountable along the way. Set yourself goals this year, even if that means re-defining and sharing your dreams.

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