Setting Personal Goals

Sophia Zhong (9 years old)

September 26, 2016

          Good morning!  My name is Sophia Zhong, and I am here to talk to you about setting personal goals.  Everyone knows Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the most influential civil rights leader and his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, right? That was the goal that he set for himself and worked his entire life to achieve. Have you ever reached a goal you set for yourself? It gives you a sense of self achievement.  Setting goals is important because, every time you reach a goal, it opens more doors of endless possibilities.  It also helps make sure you don’t go off course and tests your progress as well as boosts it.

          When you set goals, you are helping yourself. Roshan D. Bhondekar, a famous author, once wrote, “Managing goals can give returns in all areas of personal life. Knowing precisely what one wants to achieve makes clear what to concentrate and improve on, and often subconsciously prioritizes that goal.”

          Sarun Sar was able to achieve his goal despite people’s negative comments.  His dream was to become a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces.  Many people told him that he was too small to meet the physical requirements, but it just made him more determined to prove the naysayers wrong. Eventually, he became a hero of the Afghanistan war… twice! He also became a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the highest decoration in the United States!

          Goals can be long-term or short-term, big or small, from Dr. King’s dream of an equal world to simply getting an A+ on a test.  No matter what your goal is, you must work for it. Dr. King organized marches and protests in order to achieve his dream.  If you want to get an A+, you must study hard for the test.

          When you set goals, first look at the big picture, then break it up into easier, more reachable goals.  For example, you want to walk five miles every day.  You would first do half a mile, then a mile, then one and a half miles, etc.  You should always be on the lookout for things you can do better, but if you’re starting to feel discouraged, give yourself some praise.  It’s amazing what a single good word can do!

          Setting goals helps ensure that you don’t give up.  Sometimes you might feel discouraged and want to give up.  With the goals in mind, you should go to someone that you can confide in to ask for guidance and seek strength to persevere through even the toughest of times.  Even if you struggle to achieve the goal, when you finally reach it, you will feel proud and happy for yourself. 

          When I go on trips, my goal is to write in my travel journal daily.  However, sometimes, I have a really busy day and don’t want to write.  My parents help me by telling me to summarize the day’s activities.  Now I am glad that I have my journal entries to help me reflect upon the days and remind me of those great memories.

          Perseverance and dedication are also keys in achieving goals.  There is a Chinese fable about a cat who went fishing. He sat there on the riverbank, hoping for a tug on the line. He felt bored, and was easily distracted by a butterfly and dragonfly who asked to play.  Come night, the cat did not catch anything. He had to go to bed on an empty stomach.  He learned his lesson, and the next day, he politely declined the offers of play, and was able to catch three fish.  The moral, in Chinese, is “san xin er yi,” which means “three hearts and two minds.” When you do several things at once, you can’t concentrate fully on any one, and can’t do any of them as well.

          If you ever fail to reach a goal, though, don’t throw a temper tantrum.  Don’t let failure discourage you.  The fact that you gave it your all is more important.  Confucius, a famous Chinese philosopher once said, “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” Just try again, because no one gets everything right on their first try. You might not achieve your goal for some time, and that’s all right.  It once took William Gladstone Steel fifteen years just to achieve one goal! 

          About 150 years ago, William saw a picture of a beautiful lake in the newspaper that was used to wrap his school lunch.  Even though the lake was 2,000 miles away, he set his goal to visit it.  He finally set his sight on the lake fifteen years later, and he loved it so much that he devoted himself to making it a national park.  He is known “Father of Crater Lake” for his efforts.

          If more people set goals for themselves, there would be more cries of “I can’t do it!” and “It’s too hard!”, but there would also be more cries of “I did it!” It would be nice if everyone set goals for themselves, but this is not so.  We can’t change the world, but we can change ourselves. This is why I hope we can all give ourselves a moment today to set a goal, and by and by, guaranteed, we will achieve it.  Thank you.