Setting goals part I: the big picture (5 years)



Before you can figure out how to get somewhere, you’ve gotta know where you want to go.  This is a fairly simple but profound concept.  Think of this as sort of a personal mission statement for the next 5 years.  It can be extremely broad.

My advice is to get yourself into a reflective mode and answer the following questions:

  1. Where do you want to be in your career?
  2. What kind of hobbies do you want to pick up?
  3. Where would you like to travel?
  4. Is there a big ticket item that you would like to purchase?
  5. What kind of relationship do you want to have with family and friends?
  6. How will you manage personal health?

There is no one size fits all solution for setting goals.  Writing out long-term goals will be different for everybody.  The key thing is to identify what is most important to you?  Be ambitious!  Life is short so why not also include things on your bucket list? Here is what a 5 year goal sheet might look like for a typical first year graduate student:


Get a PhD, Find a post-doc job


        Learn Spanish, Learn Guitar


        Europe, South America


        New Car


        Hang out in the evenings, go to the bar, call mom on Sundays


        Yoga, organic food, run marathon

You should make this list easily accessible from anywhere so you can add to it on moments notice.  I prefer a google doc but an evernote file or a text file in dropbox would also be fine.   In the next post I’ll discuss how to break these goals down a bit more.

For more on setting big goals check out: playing b-ball with obama