From the Editor: Defining goals

Cecilia Engbert
Assistant Editor

Goals are a good thing. Ask anybody and they’ll say the same thing. Your parents probably barraged you in your youth, and maybe still do, about your goals. At a job interview, you’re going to be asked what your goals are. Every aunt and uncle at the family reunion is going to want to know what your plans are in life.

We should all have goals, if for no other reason than to have something to answer people with when they ask the inevitable. But do we? Do we really have something that we are sincerely looking ahead to, planning for, working proactively to achieve?

I’ve always been a small picture kind of person myself, focusing on the day-to-day things and tackling projects one at a time.

I like to leave the big picture stuff to my smarter, more ambitious family members and friends. Big, off-in-the-future goals are not really my specialty. And I’ve been fine with that. Until recently.

At the beginning of the semester, I was shaken out of my complacent day-to-day mindset when a friend asked me what my biggest goal of the semester was. I looked at her blankly and almost said what came first to my mind: survival.

And then I shook myself and asked, “Is that really all I’m living for? To survive? To get through the day? That can’t be right.”

Then and there, I decided that I needed to pinpoint the goals in my life, because I know I have them; it’s just a matter of being able to recognize them.

Where do goals come from? Goals are usually based on what is important to you and what you desire most. So, in trying to identify goals, I decided to start there.

At first, I was worried that I really didn’t have any goals — any really important ones, that is. But then it hit me: the most important part of my life is being a Catholic. As a Catholic, I have a huge goal provided by my faith: to serve God and to get to heaven.

So, in laying out my life goals, I started with my faith and the desires that come with it. Life goal one: end up in heaven. Life goal two: bring my family members and friends with me.

From there, it’s a matter of deciding on personal goals that will help to achieve those big ones. What I choose to do during the rest of my time in college, what I do after college, what I do 30 years down the road — that is going to be decided based on my interest surrounding that final goal.

You have to aim high with goals. You have to push yourself or you’re going to fall horribly short.

Sometimes, our goals will end up being what is wrong for us. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing; you have to start somewhere. And eventually, God will make it clear which ones he wants you to pursue.

The important thing is to understand and acknowledge what your main goals are so that you don’t drift through life without a purpose or plan, so that you’re not just surviving for no reason.

Goals are important but we shouldn’t let the plans for the future trip us up in the present. It’s easy to think that life down the road will be better: more organized, more happy or more exciting.

Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned about goals this semester is that we can make them and achieve them but never really see the big picture; only God can. Sometimes we need to settle for the day-to-day process.

Looking back at the goals and plans I mapped out for myself at the beginning of the semester, I see now that I really wasn’t in control of anything. God has taken me down some roads that I had no map for; he has given me experiences I never charted out on a spreadsheet.

So it’s all very well to plan. But I have discovered that the harder I plan, the more God likes to shake things up. Make plans, but don’t become attached to them. Because plans are just plans, and they change.

The first step in achieving any goal is to realize that we can only start from where we are right now and build up slowly from there.