The end of one show season brings the beginning of a new one. As summer nears, the days become longer and the summer allows each of us an opportunity to start fresh.

Each time we have an opportunity to start something, it is important that we have a plan. It really does not matter if we are starting with a new livestock project, moving to the next grade in school, or preparing for the SATs, each time we start something new we should always have a plan. Having a plan means we are laying out a blue print to achieve success. In order to do this, we must set goals for ourselves to achieve.

Why set goals? Did you know that if you set goals to reach for yourself, you are twice as likely to reach them? Goal statements are powerful. There are four reasons to write goal statements. Goal statements provide us with motivation, energy, and enthusiasm, goal statements provide direction and keep us on track, and goal statements ensure greater success and goal statements build confidence in us.

Now that we see why we should write goals, let's talk about how to write them. There are just a few simple rules you need to know when writing goal statements.

Rule 1: Make sure the goal is something you really want and not something that just sounds good.

One of the most common mistakes in goal setting is that we write goals that sound good, but are not something we truly want to achieve. In other words, we are doing it for others and not ourselves. This is a goal setting recipe for disaster. Trying to reach goals set forth by others will not work for you. You need to make them specific to you and what you want to accomplish.

Rule 2: Always write the goal in a positive manner.

It is important to write goals in a positive manner. For example, you may say "I am going to feed and exercise my lambs every day after school." This is a positive way to word your goal. A negative way is to say "I am not going to let anyone feed or exercise my lambs after school. The "not" makes for a negative goal statement. Reading something written negatively will bother us after a while, so try and keep the goal statement written in a positive manner.

Rule 3: Be specific about your goal.

Even though all these rules are very important, this one is often overlooked or abused. Being vague about what you are wanting to do introduces all types of problems when obtaining that goal. Let's look at the example above. "Feeding and exercising" are specific items you are looking to accomplish. If you would have written "I am going to take care of my lambs every day after school," then it is now not specific enough. What does "take care of" mean? It leaves the goal too open and you need to have it narrow with specific parameters.

Rule 4: Place a time frame on your goal statement.

Placing a time frame in your goal statement helps to make the goal more specific (Rule 3). Sometimes, we can reach goals in one week and sometimes it will take the entire year. Whatever the time frame, it is important that you include that in the goal statement. So, let's fix our goal statement we wrote earlier. "I am going to feed and exercise my lambs every day after school from September to the county show (March 15)."

Rule 5: Make the goal statement measurable.

Even though you should write goal statements that you want to reach, it is important that you review them with your parents, guardians or advisors. They can help you determine if your goal statement is realistic and can be met. It also allows for everyone to clearly understand what the goal is you are attempting to accomplish.

A parent would certainly ask what happens if you get sick and cannot feed and exercise your lamb every day. That would be a good question and may force you to add or change a couple of words to complete your goal statement. Therefore your goal would state: I am going to feed and exercise my lambs every day after school from September to the county show (March 15) as long as I am not sick.

After you have written your goal statement and reviewed it with someone, it is time to post it where you can see it. Seeing your goal everyday will make you much more likely to reach it. Most people post their goals on their mirror in the bathroom so they see it every time they brush their teeth. It is always good to place these goal statements in your wallet or purse, your school locker, or the refrigerator. You can place it anywhere you like just as long as you can see it often.

Success comes to those who work the hardest. Being successful is based on setting goals and going out and accomplishing them. So, follow these easy steps and set your goals.

Always remember: Goals worth reaching are supposed to be challenging.

Zack Davis is the Extension agent for 4-H and youth development for Nueces County.