Now that you have identified the best choice for you (for now), it is time to start making plans.
Making a decision is only useful if you then act upon it by setting a goal and developing an action plan to achieve it. For instance, if you have decided that you want to be an environmental lawyer - what are the steps you need to take to achieve this goal? It might be changing courses, finding a mentor or obtaining work experience in the field. Action planning works best when smaller, specific steps are identified. Each time you complete one of the steps, you have achieved a part of your goal.
A commonly used model for planning is the SMART model described below.
S = Specific
- Who is involved?
- What do you want to accomplish?
- Where? (Identify a location).
- When? (Establish a time frame).
- Why? (Specific reason, purpose, or benefits of achieving a goal).
M = Measurable
You should be able to monitor your progress to help you stay on track, reach your target dates, and feel that you are achieving something. So, how will you measure your success towards your goal/plan?
A = Attainable
The effort required to attain the goal should be manageable. Break it down into steps - each step should move you closer to that goal.
R = Realistic
Personal and situational factors may influence your ability to reach your goal. For instance, if your goal is to become a pilot, but you are scared of heights, then the goal is not realistic. Make sure that your goal suits you and your lifestyle.
T = Timebound
Time limits should be identified for each of the steps to achieving the goal. If goals are open-ended, we are less likely to achieve them. Define start points and end points to steps along the way and maintain commitment to these deadlines. Celebrate each time you have achieved part of the process.
The next step is to write a goal statement. To be most effective, goal statements should:
- Use clear, specific language.
- Start with TO + a VERB
- Be written according to SMART Goal Criteria
- Have positive, action focused language
"Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (American Poet, Lecturer and Essayist, 1803-1882)