Problem: We set goals, but don’t follow through with them because we lose sight of the next step or lose focus of the direction we were headed when we made the goals.

Solution: Ladder Goals

This is by no means a new solution, but only a new way of presenting the solution which I have found beneficial for myself.

How it works:

Your first rung is the broadest and has your long term goals. The next rung (Rung #2) is goals that once attained will allow you to attain the goals in Rung #1. Continue going down the ladder until you have very simple tasks that you can complete TODAY! Once you are finished you should have tasks scattered among rungs that can be completed here and NOW. Underline those tasks. Hang this somewhere you will see it every day.

Some of my Rung #1 goals are highlighted red so you can see the goals that go up the ladder to attain the overall “Land an amazing EE/CS related Internship.” Obviously many are intertwined with other goals throughout the diagram.

Here is an example of a ladder plan of my own:

Rung #1:

  • Get accepted to a prestigious master’s program
  • Land an amazing EE/CS related internship 

Rung #2

  • Get 160+ on the GRE in both sections
  • Participate as a research assistant in EE/CS/Stat/Math related fields
  • Complete projects within EE/CS/Stat scope
  • Volunteer with organizations related to EE/CS/Stat or utilize skills within a volunteer organization

Rung #3

  • Read every night before going to bed
  • Study for the GRE, 10 hours a week
  • Blog once a month
  • Contact my professors about research
  • Find impactful projects from peers/mentors/professors
  • Maintain 3.8+ GPA
  • Research/Apply for top tier internships/coops
  • Find EE/CS/Data Networking opportunities

Rung #4

  • Make and follow a weekly schedule
  • Hang a calendar in room of blog ideas and monthly blog update
  • Look into ISU Organizations related to CS/Stat/Finance/Public Health/EE
  • Buy & Review GRE Study Book
  • Work 10 hours a week on “SettIn” project team
  • Go to the library or class from 8AM – 5PM Mon-Fri

Underlined goals can be done right now

Some tasks are crossed out. This means I’ve completed them and have moved up the ladder to the next task.

This method by no means is set in stone. Feel free to review this weekly or monthly to make edits where needed. Be sure the edits you make are because you have new found passions or uncovered a new route, and not because you are being lazy. Email me or comment how this has helped you or what edits you’ve made to the system.

Here is another image of my current ladder goal board:

Written by Brendon Geils

Hi. My name is Brendon Geils. I'm from the Chicago Suburbs and go to Iowa State University. I enjoy studying my butt off as an Electrical Engineer and doing triathlons. Start-ups and Entrepreneurship are two things I enjoy participating in. I write, read, and program when I can. Send me...
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