Gavin Ingham Interviewed By Keybank On Successful Goal Setting

I was interviewed by Keybank on goal setting for students but before you switch off and decide this is not relevant for you, it might well be!

The answers are relevant for everyone no matter where you are in your career!!

Everytime you see the word student or education below you will see that it can either be ignored or switched to make the answers relevant to you!

1)   Why is it important to set personal goals in order to succeed educationally?

Setting goals is an essential part of achieving “success” not only educationally but also in your life in general. The skill of goal-setting is something which should be taught to everyone from a young age. Setting goals encourages individuals to look at what they want to achieve, to create route maps to that success and to prioritise correctly.

Effective goal-setting requires the goal-setter to ask themselves “why is this important to me?” This is particularly important in education as many young people assume goals that have been set for them by others rather than chasing their own dreams and aspirations. Assuming other people’s goals is unlikely to be successful and if you do succeed in achieving “your” goals, you may well discover that you don’t like where you have arrived!

2)   What are some examples of realistic goals commonly set among college-age students?

When setting goals we need to be wary of the word “realistic”. I could name at least a dozen friends from school age who abandoned their “dreams” because someone told them that they were “unrealistic”. As motivational speaker Les Brown says, “Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will still be among the stars.”
Goals for college-age students could include goals about what qualification they want to achieve, at what level and by when. Or maybe what job they want to secure after they qualify, where and working in what kind of company and with what kinds of people. They can set goals about their finances, their hobbies, the people they want to socialise with, what they want to do for their community.. And they can also set longer term goals about their life, finances, hobbies, social life, friends, families, vocations…

3)   Why is it important to set goals in order to succeed in life?

Setting goals is an essential life skill. It is akin to setting your compass before embarking on a cruise. If you didn’t take your compass, how would you know where you would arrive or whether you were on course or not? Metaphorically, many people are travelling through life having never even bought their compasses so they end up bobbing around with little or aim or direction.

In today’s society many people seem to be “anti” goal-setting. Maybe this is due to fear of failure, perhaps it’s because they see goals as “greedy” and maybe it’s because they are sick and tired of striving for goals that other’s told them they should go for, Goal setting does not have to be “greedy”” and indeed it should be about all areas of your life not just money! You should set goals that you care about and you should go for them. Failing to set goals and go for them is just failure.

Going for goals and not achieving them is learning and experience. Often with goals it’s not about whether you achieved them or not, it’s about the journey.

4)   Is there a correlation between the behaviors established in college and those used in the career-world?

I have no educational statistics for this question however my suggestion would be a resounding “Yes”. Habits once formed are difficult to break. Someone who sets goals which mean something to them and who lives their life “on purpose” will form the habit of living that way is likely to carry on doing so. The opposite is unfortunately true.

5)   What are some examples on how students can be sure to reach the goals they set?

Students should start by visualising themselves achieving their goals. Actually having them, being there and experiencing them. Then they should walk back down the “timeline” of the goal looking at the steps along the way to achieving those goals and making a note of them. From these steps you should create mini-stepping stones along the way to reaching your goal. These are smaller, more achievable, bitesize chunks so that you can see your progress and celebrate along the way.

Reminding yourself of your goal and taking time out to visualise yourself achieving it regularly will also help. An important point so I’ll say it again is that one of the most effective ways to achieve your goals is to ensure that YOU wanted them in the first place.

6)   Any organizational tips?

Break your goals down into achievable chunks. Enlist the help of others to support you and get help with resources that you may not have had. When planning look for “blocks” where you may need help and work out where this is coming from. Constant small activity that moves you towards your goal is the key. Try asking yourself, “Is this activity moving me towards my goals?”

7)   Ways students can reward themselves for accomplishing goals?

If you really wanted the goal in the first place then achieving it and the journey itself should be reward enough. Sometimes however there are activities which we do not enjoy that we need to undertake in pursuit of a greater goal that we really do want. Small rewards such as a night out, having a relaxing hot bath, going to the cinema or meeting up with friends could be just the ticket!

8)   Any examples of things that can get in the way of reaching goals or

Many things can get in the way of goals that are not properly set:-

  • Setting the wrong goals
  • Allowing yourself to accept other people’s definitions of “realistic”
  • Well meaning people saying that you "tried" when what they should be saying is "try harder"!
  • Giving up
  • Not chunking the goals in manageable pieces
  • Getting distracted
  • Fear of failure
  • Not taking consistent action
  • Dreaming not doing!

9)    How can college students develop leadership skills?

Read about leadership from text books. Study biographies of people you consider to be great leaders. Visualise what kind of leader you want to be. How will you act? What will you be doing? What value will you add to the world and others? Grab opportunities to lead, to work as part of a team and to serve others.

10) Why do you feel that it is crucial for students to remain goal-oriented throughout their college career?

Setting goals is a fundamental life skill and one which everyone should learn. Taking the time out to plan your goals and then to constantly review them is essential for your success – educationally, personally and in your career.
Any other comments you might have?

Take the time to check out my website at for more tips on goal setting and success. Visit your local library or bookstore and invest in some books on goal setting and personal development in general.

Why not share your tips for goal setting below by joining in and commenting?

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