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Does this story sound familiar to you? Your child has lofty academic goals and wants to achieve them. Let’s say she wants to play soccer at a college that offers her majors of interest and that’s exactly what she tells you.

Excellent! That’s a great goal but it’s only the very first step in making that goal become reality.

Sadly, many students of all ages–and parents–stop right there.

Here’s the kicker: Don’t stop!

How to achieve your goals

Athlete Lindsey Horan, credit Pierre-Yves Beaudouin CC

Running with this soccer metaphor, what does every young player learn about how to kick a ball? Follow through!

Apply this same proven method of following through by writing your goals effectively so you will significantly increase your likelihood of achieving them.

Step 1: Write your Aim Goal

An Aim goal is the general direction in which you are aiming. This could be “I succeed as a student-athlete” or “I lead my children by example.”

Notice that you must write your Aim goals in the present tense because the powerhouse that is your unconscious mind only functions in the present. You know how you’ve heard, “There’s no someday only today?” That’s the idea: We only live in the present moment.

If you want to really activate your unconscious mind to align with your conscious goal-writing, this is how to do it.

You must also write your goals, not just tell them to someone else and let them fade into the back of your mind. Writing is taking physical action and translating your thoughts into reality, just like you want to make that thought of playing soccer in college into reality.

Post your goals in a place where you will see them daily. If it’s in your sight, it’s in your mind!

Step 2: Write your End Goal

Your End goal is where you get really specific and vivid. If you want to improve your creative writing chops, here’s your chance to bring your goal destination into full color.

An example is, “I am completing the soccer scholarship application and college application to Claremont McKenna College on November 30, 2016.” That’s my sister’s alma mater and I tell you from experience that she was absolutely aligned in her aim and end goals because she succeeded in earning a full scholarship to play on the CMC women’s soccer team!

Notice that you must write in the present tense as if it is the day that you are truly achieving your goal. Remember, your unconscious only knows the present, so light up your neurology and get your unconscious to do the heavy lifting for you.

This is just the start of your End goal which brings us to your last step…

Step 3: Write your End Goal as a SMART Goal

I’m not typing in caps because I’m yelling, as important as this is. SMART is an acronym for all the pieces you need when you write your goal:

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-based

You may find some variations on this theme, but these are the pieces that I’ve seen bear the most success for my clients.

Be Specific – See what you see and feel what you feel as you place yourself into the moment of achieving your goal. If you’re a high school student, smell the grass of your dream school’s campus. Feel the crisp wind at Loyola Chicago University. Place yourself there in vivid detail.

Make it Measurable – If it’s measurable, it’s manageable. Do you measure your goal as GPA points or number of college applications? Perhaps you measure your goal as revenue dollars or workout time. “I am walking 30 minutes at Wilson Park and racking up 4 hours of exercise as of May 30, 2016.”

Attainable – You must be able to attain your goal. Be ambitiously realistic with your college applications which is why you should have a diversified set of reach, target, and safety schools. Talk to an experienced professional about determining exactly which schools are within your highest reach. Aim high while knowing that your goals are indeed attainable.

Relevant – Your goal should be relevant to what you desire. If you’re looking for an NCAA-I college full of big sports and rah-rah energy, is that relevant to your goal of studying creative writing? Are you aligned in the right fit for what you really want to achieve?

Time-Based – This is the big one: You must set a specific date for your goal. You see how the examples above have dates? A goal without a date is a wispy dream, so make yours concrete and fixed on a specific date.

Whip out your paper, spend 10 minutes writing your goals and challenge yourself. You have goals but take the right action to make them become your reality. Follow through and revisit your goals each month!

Tell me what you come up with. I’d love to hear what you write.

See you at the top.