Goal setting is important because it helps you to think about your ideal self and how you are going to achieve it. Having a long-term focus in mind also means you are more likely to succeed in turning this vision of success into reality.
Semester breaks are a great time to re-evaluate where you are now and where you want to be in the future. This can help give you the motivation that you need to get through your assignments during the semester, especially when your motivation may be waning.
Setting lifetime goals can help you to think about all the important areas of your life, such as your family, career, academic, service, sporting, creative, financial and travel aspirations.
It might help to think about the kind of life you would like to be living in five to ten years' time. Once you have decided on this, is it easier to see which actions assist you in achieving these goals. This process also helps you to focus on the things currently distracting you or restricting your ability to attain those goals.
Once you have written down your goals, put them where you will see them, but be cautious about whom you share them with. Your goals are for you. No-one else needs to know them unless you are sure these selected few people will support you in achieving them.
Your mid-term goals are the things that you want to achieve in the next six months to three years. There are usually the building blocks to achieve your long term goals. Completing your degree, saving for your overseas experience (OE), or participating in employment or volunteer work are common mid-term goals for students. These objectives are necessary to set you up for the future.
Your short-term goals are what you need to do in the next few weeks or months. These include the readings and research you need to engage with, the assignments that you need to complete, the other life events that you need to plan and prepare for, if they are going to go well.
If you have a large number of short-term goals, this can very quickly become overwhelming. It can help to focus on and remember how these steps are necessary for achieving your mid-term and long-term goals.
It is also helpful to break short-term goals down into smaller component parts that seem more achievable. For example, if the essay feels overwhelming, try thinking about undertaking one reading this morning, or writing one paragraph this afternoon. These components activities then become your immediate goals and are often enough not to procrastinate and make a start.
Your immediate goals are the things you need to do today or in the next few days. Many people find it helpful to keep a 'to do list' to make sure they remember all these tasks.
At particular times of the semester, you may find your 'to do list' has grown a little too large to manage. Try prioritising your list. Number the items to reflect which of your goals are the most important to you. Another strategy is to make a separate 'must do list' just for the items that are time sensitive and must be done today.
You may have heard of the SMART goal strategy. This involves formulating goals that are:
- S: specific
- M: measurable and meaningful
- A: attainable, achievable and action-oriented
- R: relevant, realistic and results-oriented
- T: time-bound and tangible
The key to writing smart goals is to be very precise: exactly what do you want to achieve, by exactly when?
More information about SMART goals from MindTools
A goal setting example from our own files
An activity worksheet from our own files.