Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution and ended up giving up on it within a month? We bet you all have. Maybe something like, “I’ll study consistently throughout the entire year so I don’t have to cram for exams next time around”; "I will go to the gym five days a week for a whole year"; or, "I will follow my vegan diet plan no matter what".
Well, it's great to have resolutions: you just need a way to stick to them. We’re excited to present our guide on how to set and achieve goals efficiently and practically.
The best part is, these won't just work for New Year’s resolutions! You can use these tips with almost anything, from study goals to getting that six-pack you’ve always wanted. So read on, and get ready to smash your future goals out of the park!
It's easier to achieve if you’re motivated
Let’s make the first point loud and clear: if you’re not invested and interested in what you want to achieve, it’s unlikely you will achieve it. Let's say you set a goal but you’re not super excited by the outcome. Excuses will be easier to make, it won't be one of your top priorities, and you’ll inevitably neglect it and lose focus.
Give yourself the motivation you need by setting goals that are absolutely critical to you. This way, your drive to succeed will be higher than ever before, and you won't half-bake your efforts.
A great way to see what goals will motivate you is to think deeply about the things that you’re excited to work towards on a day-to-day basis. Chances are, the things you want to achieve in the long run are heavily linked to your current priorities (which makes things even easier). If you enjoy your History essays, then maybe a goal to absolutely ace your History exam will motivate you.
But we all know that motivation doesn’t always last. Some days, it will get hard to keep going, and you’ll think of giving up pretty quickly. This is where discipline has to make a stand. Envision the end goal, imagine yourself having achieved it and remind yourself why you started in the first place. It’s not easy, but if you push through the hard days, you’ll find that motivation again.
So – point numero uno: set goals that mean something to you and don't settle for anything less.
Be S.M.A.R.T. about your goals
You might have heard people refer to setting SMART goals to ensure you’ll have the best shot at achieving them. But what does this really mean? What does SMART stand for?
First and foremost, your goals must be crystal clear and easy to understand. General goals often end up in you losing sight of what you really want and don't provide you with a clear destination. Define your goals as precisely as you can.
By using exact dates and figures, you can measure how far along the way you are to achieving your goals. This motivates you to keep going and helps keep track of how you're doing. Also, if things aren't going so well, it will give you a clear indication that you need to change something.
You shoot too high, you’ll end up missing the hoop altogether. Set goals that you can realistically achieve! Stay away from promising yourself "I’m going to learn how to fly by the end of the month" – unless you find a way to grow wings, there’ll be a whole lot of disappointment coming your way. Dream big, but be practical about it.
The goals you set should be in line with the direction you want your life to take. Make sure that achieving your goal is challenging and will mean something to you. This way, the feeling of achieving it will be so much better. Plus, you’ll most likely learn something along the way if it's hard; ditch the easy stuff.
Set yourself a timeframe and a deadline. Set up mini, daily, weekly, or monthly goals that will lead you up to the big one. For example, if you aim to get better grades in Maths, set yourself a mini-goal to do half an hour of revision every day. It will also help you see constant improvement.
That’s SMART in a nutshell. Practice setting a few goals and checking them off against these criteria! Now, how do you motivate yourself to keep working towards the goals you’ve set?
Write everything down
Grab a piece of paper and write down whatever it is you want to accomplish. If you take the steps to turn your goal into a tangible object, it will be harder to ignore. Stick the paper to your wall, bathroom mirror, or even your ceiling; you’re going to find it difficult to forget about it.
When you write them down, use strong words like 'will', 'must' or even 'I have accomplished'; this way, you leave no room for doubt, and doubt is the worst enemy of dreams.
Now, what are some of the common pitfalls along the way?
Don’t get hung up on failure
Just because you have failed once doesn't mean you’ll never achieve your goals. Failing is a part of life! It helps you learn and grow, and shows you where you went wrong and what you can change. If you’ve failed in the past, you’ve probably learned something from it, which you can use to try again.
Don't let it discourage you, and yes, we know it doesn't feel nice, but almost nobody gets it on their first try! Nothing easy ever comes right away. Thomas Edison tried and failed a thousand times, but one more try and the light bulb was invented. Where would we be without the light bulb?
And, at the end of the day, failing at something makes its success so much sweeter. So why not give your goal another shot!
Yes, we know it sounds pretty cliche, but honestly, it works. Set reminders, put them on your calendar, make it a habit. A little bit of time set aside to work on your goals each day will start to pay dividends in no time at all – usually less than a month. By sticking with it, you will literally be practising setting and achieving goals, and you know what they say… "Practice makes perfect!”.
EduExperts specialises in helping people like you achieve their educational goals. Want to know more? Get in touch with your local centre here.