Developing aspirations and goals in both life and your education are vital and will help drive you become successful and happy. I have always wanted to go to medical school since I was a kid. My goal is shared with millions of others, making it that much harder to achieve. I understand that medical school admittance rates are incredibly low and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that this has discouraged me in the past. It has been hard to persevere through all the negativity and hearing so many others give up on this goal. However, I know that if I work hard and stay dedicated, I can do anything I put my mind too. This may be the most cliche statement, but it’s true. I still have a long way to go in my medical school journey, but so far I have met my intermediary goals and have been setting myself up for success. Dedication and hard work are the two keys to reaching your goals. Make sure your goals in life are things you truly desire and that will drive you to achieve them. Here is some advice for setting and reaching your goals. 

Break long term goals into smaller achievable intermediary goals

Some goals, such as my medical school goal, take years to complete. This can create a daunting task that seems impossible. If you break up larger, long term goals into smaller more achievable tasks, it will make your long term goals feel more attainable and approachable. For example if you are trying to get into a specific grad program, set yourself a grade each term you would like to achieve. Any goal that takes over a year to complete should be broken down into systematic steps and intermediary goals. SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Creating specific and measurable goals allows you to clearly lay out tasks you can complete within a day or less. Creating SMART goals is another great way students can break larger goals into smaller chunks. 

Don’t be discouraged by failure

Failure is inevitable even for the hardest working and most dedicated among us. All of us will experience failure in our path to achieving our goals and it is up to us to learn rather than be discouraged from our failures. Some students have to apply to graduate schools multiple times before being admitted. Whenever you fail, examine what caused you to fail and try your best to correct your mistakes. If you don’t take time to examine your failures you won’t be able to learn from them. 

Use your goals as a source of intrinsic motivation

It is hard not to lose motivation and determination every now and then. Whether your source of demotivation is from failure, boredom or fatigue, it is important to utilize your goals to motivate yourself. Realizing your goals in tough times helps you persevere and regain your motivation.

Follow your goals, but be open to new opportunities

There is a very big difference between compromising on your goals and realizing different goals that may be better for you. Sometimes when we finally reach our goals we realize it is not what we expected. It is important to put time and thought into your aspirations, but also be flexible towards new aspirations. Flexibility with your goals is important when your goals start veering off track. Its important not to panic and simply change your approach or deadlines as necessary. Often in life opportunities present themselves where you least expect and many are too stubborn to try these opportunities because of being dead set on one goal. As we mature our preferences and hobbies change and it is important to always be looking towards the future, not stuck in the past.

Setting goals may sound corny, useless and like something your public school teacher made you do. For me it has helped me stay motivated, optimistic and determined. You don’t need to write them down or keep a detailed checklist of goals, just keep them in your mind if that works best for you. Often finding a long term goal takes time; ensure that you don’t rush yourself when setting goals. Try different things and only settle on goals you know are worth the dedication and hard work to achieve.

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