A goal is something you aim for. While some, like going grocery shopping, are easily achieved, long-term goals like getting a college degree can sometimes seem out of reach. That doesn’t have to be the case, though. In this section, we’ll look at how to define attainable goals and create action plans to reach them.

Setting achievable goals

If you want to set a realistic goal, it helps to do two things:

  1. Identify the steps required to reach the goal.
  2. Set a deadline.

Organizing these steps into a written plan may help you achieve your goals.

Creating and following goal action plans

A goal action plan can be helpful for achieving almost any goal, especially long-term goals. When you say, “I want to get a college degree,” you’re not actually setting an actionable goal because many steps are involved in furthering your education. For example, after you’ve applied to University of Phoenix, your next goal might be about preparing for your first class. 

To create an action plan, break down your goal into tasks that can be completed in a day, week, month and year. Although you may have different tasks, an action plan may look like this:

My action plan for getting a college degree

Today This week This month This year
I will prepare for class by reviewing the master checklist. I will schedule time in my personal class calendar for getting acquainted with my classroom and for when I start class. I will keep scheduling time to do my coursework. I will earn passing grades in all of my classes.
I will make sure I’m getting scheduled for my first class. I will get to know other new students using PhoenixConnect®. I will tell my boss and friends that I am earning my degree. I will remind myself that with enough effort, I can achieve my goals!

Setting SMART goals

Need help filling in your action plan? Use the SMART model to create goals that are:

  1. Specific. Be as detailed as possible. “I want to improve my study habits” is not a specific goal.
    Example: “I will devote at least one hour every day to reading and studying for classes.”

  2. Measurable.Indicate how much progress you want to make.
    Example: “I want to get A’s on 90 percent of my assignments.”

  3. Attainable.Set a goal that’s realistic — but don’t go easy on yourself.
    Example: “I want to earn a bachelor’s degree within three years and graduate with at least a 3.00 GPA.”

  4. Relevant. Any goal you set should align with a purpose that’s important to you and help you avoid distractions.
    Example: “I will devote eight hours each week to learning Java and reduce my gaming time to two hours a week.”

  5. Time-based.Deadlines minimize procrastination and push you to complete your goals in a limited amount of time.
    Example: “I will complete the first draft of my paper this Friday, work on my presentation Monday, and submit the final versions the following Monday.”

Your future begins here