Webster’s dictionary defines the term goal as, “Something that you are trying to do or achieve ,” (goal.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, 2013.Web. 23 Oct 2013) and we here at Volunteer Maryland would tend to agree with that definition. In fact, each service term we ask all of our members to draft a list of personal and professional goals that they hope to achieve, accomplish, or progress towards during their time with Volunteer Maryland. When you sit down and write-out goals at the beginning of a service year you are setting in place the tools needed to help you achieve those goals. First and foremost you are putting your thoughts down where they will not get lost in the millions of things that will occur in your life during the next eleven months. Personally I know that I have goals and ambitions that sometimes get pushed to the side by everything going on in my day to day life. Having my goals written out gives me a way of always being able to visually see what I am striving towards. Writing down goals also helps me monitor and keep track of my progress in attaining them. Goal setting for the sake of goal setting is great, but having a way to monitor the steps toward your goals is as important as the goal itself. I think it’s fair to say that most of us have used the term “I’ll do it tomorrow,” or “I’ll get to it next week,” and somehow tomorrow and next week seem to escape us. Well, taking the time to write out goals affords us all the opportunity to set-up timelines for different milestones that will occur in pursuit of those goals. Last, but certainly not least, turning in our goals to our fellow peers at the beginning of the year gives us the chance to serve as coaches, mentors, and accountability partners to one another. It has been my experience that most people need a little help in achieving their goals and this process gives us assistance that many people don’t get in life. We can serve as sounding boards for one another, as that nudge we might need to push forward when we face setbacks and as that congratulatory cheering section when things go well.
For me, I have countless goals that I will strive to actualize during my term of service. Some of those include working on my networking and leadership skills, learning more about social issues like domestic violence and sexual assault and further developing my language skills. I have written out each of those goals, what success will look like, and how my peers can help me in accomplishing them. Volunteer Maryland had me divide these goals into two categories: personal and professional. Putting goals into these two categories has helped remind me that I am someone who wants to succeed in more than just one area of my life and that finding a balance between personal and professional life is just as important as the goals that exist in each sphere. I have many things that I hope to accomplish during my year of service and I know that things may not always go according to plan but at the end of the day I also know that Volunteer Maryland has started me down the road to success.