How to Be Successful in School: Part 2 – Make Goals

ImageSo in our last session we discussed study tips and I hope you were able to gather some valuable tools that will assist you in your next test preparation blitz. Moving on now we are going to discuss something that will help you use those study tips in a productive manner, and that is goal setting.

When you make a goal for yourself you have to consider some important variables or else you may get lost in the attempt. Goal setting is much like climbing a staircase with each small step leading to the accomplishment at the peak. There is a simple acronym which defines how you would design a plausible goal…SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely). To tell yourself “I’m going to lose 20lbs this by the end of this month” is a goal, sure, but it isn’t a SMART goal. When you set a goal for yourself you want to set yourself up to succeed, not to fail, and if you follow these guidelines you will be more likely to succeed in your endeavors.

Specific – In order to make a specific goal for yourself you need to answer as many of the “W” questions as possible (who, what, when, where and why). By doing this you are able to determine what you want to accomplish, a time frame to achieve your goal, any barriers or constraints that may stand in your way, or specific reasons or benefits why you are attempting this goal. Something like “I’m going to join Goodlife Fitness and workout 3 days per week for 1 hour.” You have set the time frame, the location, and your why can be added to the end of the phrase simply as “…in order to lose 5lbs by the end of the month.”

Measurable – You have to have a concrete way of measuring your success as you progress towards your goal. If your goal is weight loss then keeping a weigh-in log and a nutrition monitor may help you get closer to your goal. You have to be able to answer questions such as “How much…” in order for it to be a measurable goal, and think of it this way…the more you see how well you are doing the better you are going to feel, and if things don’t change as fast as you want consider where the causes are.

Attainable – Identifying goals that are important allows you to plan steps that will make them come true. You are able to develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach those goals. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you build your self-image. You see yourself as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.

Realistic – For a goal to be realistic you must possess the will and the ability to work towards it. Setting a high goal is not foolish if you give yourself the correct motivation. Quite often higher set goals are easier to achieve than lower set goals because they force you to work at what you think is your maximum capacity, and as that capacity grows your goal becomes closer. Using our weight loss scenario as an example if someone says “I want to lose 100lbs in 3 months” it may be a high goal, but considering the human body and a healthy degree of weight loss depending on the person it is unlikely this person will reach that goal, or if they do it may be due to extreme measures which can be dangerous. When you plan a realistic goal you should do a little bit a research to make sure it is realistic for you, or seek out someone who knows more about it.

Timely – Without a firm time frame within which to complete your goal there is no sense of urgency to complete it. Make sure to apply a reasonable time limit to achieve your goal, for example “I want to lose 15lbs in 3 months” is a reasonable amount of time and it encourages you to stick to plan because it jump starts you.

Alright now here is my challenge to you. Practice. Try setting a goal for the end of the semester, and see if you can apply last weeks study tips to help you along.

Good luck! 😀

Kelly Skidmore


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