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The library of essays of Proakatemia

Learning how to set personal goals (finally)

Kirjoittanut: Terēze Teibe - tiimistä Crevio.

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Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 5 minuuttia.

My first words as a second-year student – Woohoo! – Hello, my first essay of this year!


It feels like it has been a year (even though it is only 4 months) since I wrote my last essay – “ONE YEAR”. I have ‘survived’ my first year and advanced to the next level – the second year of my studies. Maybe it is just me, but I always feel transformations happening in myself either every time I advance in my studies or when I turn older. This only means facing new challenges, growing (hopefully not in shape) and setting new goals.

I have always been bad at setting personal goals. Especially after COVID-19, I have developed silent bitterness whenever I hear somebody say, “Set your goals for one year, five years, ten years, (etc.)!” Everything can change in one day. I remember the previous year ENTRE22 had a Paja where we needed to learn how to set our personal goals for the first year of our studies. I did not do the task. In fact, that was the only academic task I did not do. In my mind, I excused myself by saying, “I have just moved to a completely different country. I do not know if I even am the same person I was, and will I even manage to live the whole year in Finland.” However, setting personal goals for the future is an essential skill that an entrepreneur must have. That is why I am choosing to face something I hate so much, and finally learn how to do it. Woohoo?

In this essay, I will test out multiple personal strategy-making tool sources and set clear goals for this semester for myself. 


Before I had started researching some goal-setting strategies, I already expected to come across SMART (specific – measurable – achievable – relevant – time-bound) and KISS (also known as “Keep it simple, stupid!” or “Keep it short and simple”) strategies. With these and a couple of similar strategies, I have been introduced to my whole life, and even though I find them valuable and could still use them to set my goals for this essay, I thought that there might be a reason why I have never grown keen on them. To my surprise, after I had typed “how to set goals”, I not only came across SMART goals, wikiHow and some blogs but also multiple TED talks on why you should not set goals. At that point, I admit I wanted to reconsider writing this essay (my inner voice cheered, “Yey, no goals!”).

However, then I came across an article by Les MacLeod (EdD, MPH, LFACHE) in a scholarly journal, “Making SMART Goals Smarter”. In this article, he outlined the difference between setting goals versus objectives, and I learned that it is a common mistake to somehow confuse them together as synonyms. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, goal stands for “aim or purpose”, whereas objective – is “something that you plan to do or achieve”. In other words, goals are more abstract and general, while objectives are more concrete and specific. Therefore, he explains that SMART goals actually should refer to sub-goals or objectives.

Following the differences stated in the article (quoted): “goals are broad in scope, general, intangible, qualitative, abstract, end result, hard to validate, and for longer-term; objectives – narrower in scope, specific, tangible, quantitative, concrete, required steps, easy to validate and for a shorter term” (Les MacLeod, 2012). Consequently, I realized that the initial purpose of this essay was to determine my objectives for this semester and not my goals.

In order to set the right objectives John Doerr says that all of the objectives should answer to your “why” – purpose. Similarly, to the S. Sinek’s golden circle, he explains that the objective is the “what” – the direction that drives the action, and “how” stands for the key results that answer how the objective is met. Objectives combined with key results (also known as OKRs) are what keep the companies going, so when considering setting the right goals for the right reasons for the company, I highly suggest watching this TED talk. This, of course, could also be used for an individual, but I will not go so deep in this essay to answer on my “HOWs”. However, this led me to take the first action steps and to do a free online personal values assessment. (Doerr 2018.)


My values:

  • Meaningful work – positive impact on other people’s lives;
  • Family – caring for loved ones;
  • Growth – physical, intellectual and spiritual development;
  • Influence – having effect on people or things;
  • Health – well-being, fitness, not being sick.


From Encounters in Theory and History of Education archives, I found Nel Noddings’s work (2007) about aims, goals and objectives, and decided to follow this structure to write my own.


Aim: To graduate from Proakatemia well, growing immensely both in intelligence and skills, as well as to fully embrace the path of leadership. To have a clear vision for future paths I am willing to take contributing reflections made about myself during my studies that benefit my purpose in life (to have a reason for existing, to mean something, to spread good in this world).


Shifting aims into goals:                           

  • Being in a leadership role in different team settings;
  • Doing extensive research for my essays (later thesis), writing them well to benefit my intellectual growth as well as to keep them reader-friendly;
  • Collaborating with diverse people groups (also, with people with whom I have more of uncommon);
  • Acquiring essential (both hard and soft) skills for entrepreneurs;
  • Creating a team that is constantly moving forward and has a perfect balance of professionalism as well as informality;
  • To build meaningful partnerships and networks for the future.


Objectives (this semester):

Before I started writing down my objectives, I wrote down what responsibilities I have for this semester.

My current situation – Second-year student in Proakatemia, Crevio Osk’s BL (1/2), Project leader for Proakatemia’s Janitor team, Part-time job as After School Club teacher (18.5h/wk) – all of these are fixed currently until the end of the winter holiday.


Therefore, my objectives for this semester:

As a BL:

–       To boost constant financial growth in Crevio Osk;

–       To make sure the company has its individual projects;

–       To create an environment of ‘hive’ in the company where there is constant movement and work comes with ease;

–       Successfully collaborate with the other BL of Crevio Osk;

–       To create a strong social identity for the company.

As a Student:

–       To complete all of my essays on time;

–       To combine my studies with my part-time work;

–       To avoid burn-out, and keep my health in shape;

–       Gain new knowledge in finances, marketing and sales.

As a Janitor team project leader:

–       To successfully conduct Janitor team service;

–       To learn how to lead a project of service;

–       To make sure that the community is satisfied with my team’s work;

–       To make sure that people in my team perform well;

–       To work so that it is possible to do this service again.

As an After School Club teacher:

–       To provide a safe space for kids to play and learn;

–       To make sure every kid feels equally seen and protected;

–       To take a stand – anti bullying and mobbing, and pass it to the kids;

–       To teach my kids kindness;

–       To not lose a child. 😀


Woohoo! Done!


Now, reflecting on the work that has been done, I can truly admit that I feel more clarity and understanding of why I do things the way I do, what is important to me, and that all of my goals, objectives and even aims are in line with my values. For now. This was my own way of learning how to set personal goals, but I also hope that by sharing my learning journey here, maybe someday this could help somebody else.



Cambridge Dictionary. n.d.  Read on 10.09.2023 https://dictionary.cambridge.org/

Doerr, J. 2018. Why the secret to success is setting the right goals. Recorded public-speaking presentation. TED. 02/07/2018. https://youtu.be/L4N1q4RNi9I?si=9P_Av_zOihSlbbLO [10.09.2023]

MacLeod, L. 2012. Making SMART Goals Smarter. Scholarly Journal. Physician Executive. 03/04.2012. 68 – 70, 72. n.d. Read on 10.09.2023. https://www.proquest.com/docview/1284082621?pq-origsite=gscholar&fromopenview=true

Noddings, N. Stanford University; Columbia University Teacher’s Collage. Encounters in Theory and History of Education 2007. [Encounters on Education] Aims, Goals, and Objectives. 17. 04. 2008. Read on 10.09.2023. https://ojs.library.queensu.ca/index.php/encounters/article/view/571





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