Goals are a great way to organize your hopes and ambitions, but attaining them can be harder than setting them.

Establishing a goal (for example, “I want to get my master’s in nursing”) is only the first step in the process. To achieve your goals, take some tips from Mike Linares*, a sponsored RN-to-MSN FlexPath student at Capella University, who’s spent a great deal of time and thought working out how to succeed. Besides being an RN, Linares is also the founder of Simple Nursing, a website devoted to helping nursing students at all levels of their education prepare for and earn their degrees. His current goals include creating new courses for his website, developing a new app for the site, and, long-term, becoming a nursing professor or educator at a college, university, or foundation that works with the underprivileged.

The Importance of Goals

Why bother with goals? “Goal setting will benefit you because it allows you to focus on one thing at a time,” Linares says.  Identifying what you want to do helps you see the bigger picture. From there, you can develop tactics and recognize potential stumbling blocks, as well as find ways to overcome those obstacles. Goal setting is a way of committing yourself to prioritize what’s important to you.

Tip #1: Habits and Focus

Linares says the best way to create new habits and keep focus is to visualize the goal. “I write my goal on a bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker so I can see my goal every single morning and night,” he says. Keeping the goal front and center gives it more urgency.

Tip #2: Prioritization

Don’t just make a to-do list, prioritize the items on the list in terms of what’s most important to help you move towards reaching your goal. “Many people don’t do this,” Linares says. “They always think that everything on the to-do list is a priority. If everything’s a priority, then nothing’s really a priority. So, take your to-do list and determine the number one thing you have to do that day. That’s your day’s objective. Do this every day. When you focus on one thing at a time, you get better results.”

Tip #3: Time Blocks

Another important technique is to set up different time blocks throughout the day to complete certain tasks. “I’ll block time off to focus and double down on my paper writing,” says Linares. “It’s really important to guard the time you need for doing something intense, like a paper or a study module. I’ll also block time to answer the distractors, like emails, texts, or social media. I call this method laundry basketing.”

Tip #4: Enjoy the Ride

Linares recommends celebrating the small goals achieved along the way. “Climbing one rung at a time, it’s important to keep up your sense of accomplishment,” Linares says. “This way, you’ll gain peace of mind and keep up your momentum to tackle the larger goals.”

Tip #5: Even the Bad Moments Are Good

While his advice is to enjoy feelings of accomplishment along the way, Linares counsels not to be afraid to appreciate the days when things aren’t going well. “I want to really be thankful for the good, as well as the bad,” he says. “I’m even more thankful for the bad, because that’s usually a better teacher. Any time there’s a sense of feeling stuck or moving backward, stop and consider what you can learn from it.”

Learn more about Capella’s Master of Science in Nursing online degree program, available via both FlexPath and GuidedPath learning formats.

*Mike Linares is an actual FlexPath student compensated for appearing in Capella promotional materials.

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