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By GARY ZITTERGRUEN, Benton Community Superintendent

Choose the right goals and plan for success

Self-help gurus and life coaches all stress the importance of having goals if you want to succeed in life. But the big question is: What’s a worthwhile goal?

A goal should reflect your values, of course – what you really want, not what you should want or what other people want you to achieve. Career and financial goals are perhaps the most obvious targets. What kind of job or role do you aspire to? How much money do you want to make? Or what would you like to buy that’s currently beyond your reach?

But you don’t have to zero in on work. Perhaps you have an artistic dream – to write a novel or learn the piano. Or maybe you want to work on some aspect of your personality: become more assertive, or more empathetic, or less cynical. Education is another potential objective, whether it’s about getting an advanced degree or just taking a class in design.

Whatever goal you pursue, follow this constructive advice:

• Make it positive. State your objective in affirmative terms: What you will do (“Eat balanced meals every day”), not what you won’t do (“Stop eating chocolate”). Remind yourself of what you want, not what you’re denying yourself.

• Take a step-by-step approach. You have to start with the big picture, but you should quickly start determining what you need to do to get there. Break your plan down to the smallest level of detail; think of what you can do every day to get yourself a little closer to your target. Focus on things you can control: You can’t make your book a best-seller, but you can write two pages every day, so concentrate on that.

• Set your sights high. Be realistic but ambitious. There’s no glory and small value in accomplishing a goal that doesn’t require any effort. Remember that even if you don’t reach your objective, what you learn along the way will make you a better person.

“Insights for Parents” is provided by Benton Community in recognition of your role as a partner in education.

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