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Build a USNA Midshipman–Part VI

USNA--you can do it!
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Building a Midshipman is the story of one applicant’s journey from high school student to Midshipman in the United States Naval Academy.

It has been the bible for many military academy applicants, whether their goal is a spot at the Naval Academy, West Point, the United States Air Force Academy or the Coast Guard Academy. Now, Monday’s, I’ll serialize it on this blog for free. Of course, if that’s too slow, you can purchase the book on the publisher’s website or Amazon. Either way, you get lots of tips and tricks for cracking the Naval Academy application.

Here’s the sixth installment:

Chapter Three

Goal Setting

We make war that we may live in peace.
Aristotle

Can a high school freshman be goal-oriented? Should they—or is this too early? Though many deliberate, no one yet has invented a time machine to unring the proverbial bell. And high school requires the ringing of many academic, social and economic bells. Many future-shaping decisions become final based on these four seminal years.

Some colleges value just the academic load, and others demand academics and sports/fine arts/community service/a passionate involvement in something. Some insist you take the toughest academic load possible, while others choose based on GPA and class-rank. Often contradictory, choices must be made early in the high school years regarding ambitions, focus, and intents.

‘No goals’ means decisions are made for you. If you don’t commit yourself to “do” high school (work hard, take challenging classes, never never never give up even one extra-credit point on a test), then you have made a choice. It’s passive, but effective. Each time you make the decision to skip studying for one test, or make the decision to not put the extra time into one project, you shorten the height of your grasp on the future. Too many compromises, and goals become dreams for someone ‘luckier’ than you.

To paraphrase Dylan Thomas: Never go gently into that good night.

Rage against any grasp-shortening decision, any course of action that leads away from your dreams, or any choice that compromises your ability to accomplish. Make a habit of completing tasks, not making excuses for inaction. Because it is just that—a habit. A life pattern of reaching the sheer drop of the cliff before you stop. It has less to do with skill than tenacity.

Without a plan, you will be forced to react to circumstances, rather than act aggressively and passionately in your best interests. Never a good plan when you’re talking about eternity. No one cares about your future as much as you do.

And if you do care, if you take those first and second and third steps toward being the captain of your ship, you have empowered your future. ‘Goals’ focuses you on the future. ‘No goals’ buries you in the past.

In the words of Yogi Berra, You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”

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Next week: Chapter Four

For worksheets and diagrams that go along with this chapter, or if you don’t want to wait through the installments (or can’t), Building a Midshipman can be purchased here:

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, and a freelance journalist of tech ed topics. Currently, she’s editing a military thriller that should be out to publishers this summer.