Once I graduated from university, I found myself in a transitionary phase.

I had to figure out what my next steps were.

I realized I needed to think of some goals going forward and really focus on them in order to have them play out! Here are some strategies I used to help me stick to my goals.

A hand holding a compass. Photo by Ethan Sykes on Unsplash

Clarify the Goal

Between finishing up school, looking for employment, planning on relocating back to my home city, contemplating graduate school, connecting with old friends, and attending to family responsibilities, I had a lot of competing priorities!

I used the following strategy to identify what was most important and clearly outline what I wanted to achieve in order to help narrow down my focus.

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  1. Write down multiple goals in clear and simple terms.

  2. Rank the goals from most important to least important or most urgent to least urgent.

  3. Start with your #1 priority and add on other goals depending on time available and your capacity to get things done!

Visualize the Goal

At first, it was hard for me to wrap my head around some of goals — especially the one about going to graduate school. But visualizing my future accomplishment made it feel more achievable. To do this:

  1. Stand, sit, or lie down in a quiet place (you can have soft music on if you'd like).

  2. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.

  3. Visualize what it would be like once you've accomplished your goal.

  4. Imagine the emotions you'll experience once you've achieved what it is you want to do. Hold this in your mind for as long as you can.

  5. Smile!

    A man in a black shirt, surrounded by green trees, smiling with his eye closed. Photo by Alexis Baydoun on Unsplash

If you want to make picturing your accomplishment more tangible, try a vision board!

Create an Action Plan

When it was time for me to start working on one of my goals, I found it overwhelming and didn't know where to start. Creating an action plan helped me:

  • tackle my goal(s) stage-by-stage

  • stick to a timeline

  • gather the resources I needed to get it done, and...

  • decide how to overcome any obstacles that might arise

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The key is to break down your larger goal into simple actionable steps that you can get started on and accomplish before a deadline that you set for yourself.

Find free action plan templates here! You can also find an example of my action plan for applying to graduate school below.

A series of Scrabble tiles that spell Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

My Action Plan

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Below is an example of an action plan I created to help with the process of applying to graduate school:

Image of a completed action plan for applying to graduate school. Use the audio player below for a detailed description.

To hear an audio description of the action plan template above, press play on the audio player below:

Reward Yourself

Once I completed a milestone I had set out in my action plan, I decided to reward myself for the hard work I put in. This helped me stay persistent and made the process more enjoyable!

Ways you can reward yourself:

  • Share the news with a loved one who you know will celebrate with you!

  • Give yourself a treat.

  • Take a break and do something you enjoy.

  • Repeat kind words of praise to yourself like, "Way-to-go!", and, "You're awesome!"

  • Even simply checking off the task in your action plan can feel super rewarding!

Woman in white outfit smiling, jumping, and clapping as confetti fills the air.

Stay Motivated

At times, especially when I was striving toward a longer-term goal, I found that my motivation decreased. When this happened, I reminded myself of why achieving this goal was important to me.

Try this out the next time you need to feel energized about your goal. This can help you feel more inspired and give you purpose.

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For example, maybe your goal will help you:

  • improve a personal quality that you've been working on

  • afford a better quality of life

  • accomplish something you're very passionate about

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Having a purpose or a "why" can help us stay steady even when we face challenges.

Take Action

These strategies can help you stay focused on your goal. You can use them separately, but it's most effective when you follow the entire plan!


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