When I was an undergraduate, I was in class when I heard a factoid that sort of stayed with me. It was something along the lines of, “It is statistically proven that if you make your goal specific and write it down, it is X% more likely to happen”. I don’t remember what the X% is any longer – but the gist of that little statistic was profound to me at the time and I still think about it often when I set goals for myself.
To me, it meant that all I have to do to give myself a better shot at success was to spend 5-10 more seconds while planning and thinking about my goals. I started to use the advice everywhere. If I had a hard course or test, the first thing I would do is write down the grade I wanted – and I made it specific. I didn’t just want an ‘A’ on that finance test, I wanted a 93-98%.
Why didn’t I want a 100%, you may ask yourself? Because the goal has to be not only specific, it has to be realizable. Although a 100% on a test is far from unrealizable to me, giving myself a challenging goal that still leaves room for a little human error is so much more powerful – because I know I can hit it every time. Also, if I overshot, which ended up happening a lot, I was over the moon! This is how I am approaching getting my MBA and part of the reason for this blog, which adds another factor in – writing it down publicly (YIKES!).
My two, specific, realizable goals are: 1) To get accepted into at least two of my top five MBA program choices, where all five are ranked in the top 10 of MBA programs in the U.S. and 2) To save up $25-$30k to make sure I finance my degree as responsibly as possible (i.e. with as few loans as possible). The next part of the process for me, after I write down exactly what I want, is figuring out how to get it. I put together a thoughtful plan that breaks up these big goals that feel almost monumental, into smaller objectives.
Now, for goal #1, a lot of my application profile is already baked – my GMATS, my last 3 years of work history and my undergraduate GPA. However, since I applied the same process to my GMATS (shot for a 700, overshot for a 740) and my undergraduate GPA (when I first started drinking the goal-kool-aid), I have a pretty decent starting point. The variables are the essays, presentation of my resume, my extra-curriculars, etc. Realistically, it is possible I won’t achieve goal #1, but I will do everything I can to make it happen. Even if I don’t, it is not the end of the world. I am in a job I really like and will be able to go part-time to a good school and goal #2 will enable me to pay out of pocket for my entire degree (No Loans!)-so there is always a silver lining.
I hope in the very least, that sharing my process of how I attack goals and challenge myself will be helpful to some people. I think too many people talk about goals and ambition in very nebulous terms. It is all about the planning. Once you have a good plan and a challenging goal, anything is possible. Anyone who tells you different is probably a whiner.
That being said….here is my plan…I hope it helps someone out there!
MBAGirlJourney offers the perspective of a highly thoughtful young professional woman who hopes to land a seat at a top ten MBA program for the Class of 2016. She has two goals: to gain acceptance to at least two of the top ten business schools and to finance her MBA without taking on heavy debt. She blogs at MBAGirlJourney.