Goal Setting for the Fall Season and the School Year

Daniel Garner-Quintero, MA
Licensed Mental Health Counselor


The end of July is quickly approaching and many of us, especially those who work closely in education, are beginning to feel the new school year creep up on us. I, affectionately, like to say that “fall is coming…” Shout out to the GoT fans. I try to use this time each year to think mindfully about what I want to accomplish in the coming months – what are my goals, what do I want to see happen by the end of X date, what changes am I seeking to make, etc.? Our lives are constantly changing. Some of these changes are predictable and some are unexpected. Regardless, seasons of change often serve as a unique opportunity to evaluate where we are and where it is we’d like to go.
These goals help us to provide structure and meaning to our days and it has been my experience that our goals are most easily reached when they are consistent with our personal values! You won’t find joy in making a certain amount of money if what you truly value is family, and you won’t find satisfaction in rote tasks if you value relationships over production. So often we seek after happiness and find ourselves frustrated as it seems to allude us. More often than not, it is because we aren’t living congruently into our values! When goals and values are mismatched, life becomes (even more) difficult! We find ourselves exhausted, worn out, and burdened by stress!
In the spirit of this, my hope is that you can use this new season to evaluate your goals and values. See it as a season of new beginnings and opportunities! I even went ahead and thought of some questions to consider to get you start:
1. What are the moments in life that have brought you the greatest satisfaction or joy?
2. When have you experienced a sense of zest recently and what were you doing or who were you with?
3. What fires you up and really gets you motivated to change?
4. Are there things that you’ve not allowed yourself to experience or express because of family or social values which aren’t consistent with your own?
5. What’s something you’ve been putting off doing and what’s preventing you from starting that thing?
6. If the answer is fear, ask yourself what do I fear more – trying and failing or not trying and still feeling like a failure? .
7. Are the goals I’ve set reasonable and attainable?
8. Have I given myself a realistic deadline to meet them by? (Deadlines help to create accountability.)
Clearly, this is nowhere near exhaustive and sometimes clarifying values requires you to examine where they come from initially. Often we introject our values from friends, family, and society without critical examination. If you find yourself feeling stuck in this process, becoming overly confused, or highly frustrated that might be a sign that working with a professional might be helpful! It just so happens that we have a slew of counselors and life coaches on hand to help! Regardless of how you approach the upcoming season, I hope you make it one filled with joy and gratitude!



Daniel Garner-Quintero, LMHC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor