top of page


Become more intentional about what you want to accomplish and believe it’s possible.

Whether it’s the beginning of a new school year or the start of a new fiscal year in business, it’s highly probable that the idea of goal setting will come up in conversations. We all want to live a life that matters. We want to reach our full potential but too often we find ourselves overwhelmed by the day-to-day. And then, more often than not, those big goals can be forgotten.

That doesn’t have to be the case. In this article, we'll delve into the stories of two remarkable Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) specialists who have harnessed the power of goal setting, personal growth, and mentorship to create profound impacts in their lives and the lives of the youth they serve.

Jeff Lohman, one of our specialists from the JMG program at Muskegon High School, shares his own high school transcripts with his class. With a slightly uncomfortable laugh, Lohman said “I was 93 out of 93 in my high school graduating class. Teachers didn’t want me in their class.” But clearly, that wasn’t the end of the story for Lohman. He realized that his teachers noticed that he was a work in progress and he now does the same for the students in his JMG class. Always seeking out ways to learn and improve, Lohman has attended Muskegon Community College, Western Michigan University, has a certificate from Butler in Leadership and another certification from Michigan State University in Change Management.

Lohman uses his experiences to build a connection with the youth in his class. “The first marking period is all about developing connections with the kids. Build trust. Get to know them, who they live with, their family history, their hurdles and challenges. I want to help them find their “why.” We use three or four different personality assessments to help the youth understand themselves better and tie that understanding to the various careers they might be interested in,” said Lohman. He continued to say, “I want to help them envision what they can do in the future.”

In April, Jeff guided his JMG class on an exploration of diverse career opportunities in downtown Muskegon.

This concept of building trust and forging relationships works in the classroom, but is equally applicable in the business world. To accomplish anything, we have to first believe that we are up for the challenge. That doesn’t mean it will be easy or that we even know how we’re going to do it. We have to trust in ourselves and others, being confident that we can prevail.

Life for many of our youth has been tough already. They experience barriers and challenges every day. Knowing that they need to feel supported, another JMG specialist from Hartford High School, Jocelynne Braddock, uses the spirit of DUMELA in her work every day. According to Marquette University, dumela comes from the Sotho language which is spoken primarily in South Africa. To many, the spoken definition of dumela is: Good morning / good evening / good night. The true essence of dumela is a spirit that allows for a deep level of acknowledgement and support. Braddock makes sure that each one of her youth knows that she believes in them by repeating “I believe in you. I affirm you and I see the great potential in you” regularly in her classroom.

Great results don’t just happen. You can design your best year by finding your “why” - becoming more intentional about what you want to accomplish, then creating systems of accountability to help you achieve your goals.

According to Michael Hyatt in the book he wrote called Your Best Year Ever, we should go beyond the old idea of SMART goals and make them SMARTER. We can transform our resolutions, aspirations and dreams into powerful, compelling, written goals that help us achieve greater outcomes. He says that great goals check seven boxes:

  • Specific: Focus is the power. Specific goals create a channel for our problem-solving skills and efforts.

  • Measurable: When the goal is measurable, we know the criteria for success.

  • Actionable: Goals are fundamentally about what you’re going to do. It’s essential to get clear on the actions you are going to take.

  • Risky: Others referred to the “R” as “realistic.” But Hyatt believes that we need to take on a little risk and get out of our comfort zone. Our goals should stretch and challenge us.

  • Time-keyed: This could be a deadline, frequency or a time trigger.

  • Exciting: Only an exciting goal can access the internal motivation you need to stay the course and achieve your goal.

  • Relevant: Focus on seven to 10 goals that align with your life, your values and your ambitions.

Another key step in goal setting and productivity is planning and follow-through. Once you have your goals and your plans set, you’ll want to identify what steps you’ll need to take every day to make them happen. The best tool to do this is the world-famous to-do list.

Your to-do list can be electronic or simply written on a sheet of paper. The key piece to realize is that your list should be aligned with your goals and the activities outlined that will help you achieve the outcomes you desire. This tool will help you keep track of what you’ve already done and what still needs to be addressed. Having a to-do list will make your goals more credible and increase your focus. This list of priorities can motivate you, help you keep promises and help clarify your thinking.

Kathleen Wolf of The Purpose Partners has shared the simple weekly planner list that she uses to keep track of her goals and actions. You can print off copies for yourself here.

Using the SMARTER goals along with a prioritized list of to-dos can help you master your motivation and make great things happen!

What did you think of this article? We’d like to hear from you. Do you have any additional tips or experiences you’d like to share that will help others in their goal setting? If so, share them on our social media channels: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Follow our Youth Solutions Twitter and Facebook pages as well!


bottom of page