Study goals are essential if you want to succeed as a student. Research indicates that setting goals is a reliable predictor of better grades and completing your qualification. Let’s look at why goal-setting is so important along with some tips on how to do this effectively.
The Importance of Setting Goals
For some, there’s an obvious benefit to setting goals. Some people, however, wonder why it’s necessary. You might think that, as a student, you naturally want to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible so you can finish your course. Isn’t it enough to have an overall intention to succeed without setting specific goals? The fact is, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that setting goals helps you accomplish more in any area of your life. There are several key reasons to set goals.
- Makes it easier to identify and reach important milestones. Aside from long-term goals such as achieving a qualification, you have short-term goals such as reading a chapter or completing an assignment.
- Helps you meet deadlines. As a student, you need to be aware of deadlines such as completing a workplace assignment or finishing an assessment.
- Keeps you accountable. When you set a goal, you’re making a commitment to yourself. You can check your progress and, when necessary, work harder to get up to speed.
How to Set the Right Goals
Here are some guidelines on setting effective goals. Research supports the value of SMART goals which are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-specific.
- Make your goals specific. The more specific a goal is, the easier it will be to focus on it and take the necessary action to accomplish it. For example, a goal such as “I will study more” is rather vague. “I will study every day between 2 and 4 PM in my office” is specific and provides you with an actionable plan.
- Set measurable goals. Another criterion that makes a goal useful is that you can measure it. “I’ll do better” is not really measurable. If you set a goal to study a certain number of hours or to raise your exam score to a particular level, however, you have something concrete to aim for.
- Keep your goals attainable and realistic. If you set goals that are overly ambitious, you”re setting yourself up for failure. For example, if you currently devote two hours per week to studying, a goal of studying for 10 hours per week is probably not realistic. Start by increasing it to 3 or 4 hours.
- Time-specific. When you’re studying, you need to keep to a tight schedule. Make sure your goals are consistent with your academic calendar and your other responsibilities.
- Set long-term and short-term goals. In addition to setting SMART goals, it’s good to have goals that are both short and long-term. A long-term goal might be to find a job in your chosen field. “I’m going to become a veterinary nurse” would be a long-term goal. You should also have short-term goals such as “I’m going to finish this unit by Friday evening at 8PM.”
How to Stay on Track With Your Goals
Setting goals is an essential first step towards greater academic success. However, many people start off with the best of intentions but abandon their goals. There are many distractions that can get in the way. Here are some ways to stay focused on your goals.
- Take consistent action on your goals. When you take action, you remind your brain to move towards your goal. Even small symbolic actions can help. For example, clearing off your desk so it’s a more organised study area can help you feel more motivated.
- Write down your goals. Research indicates that people who write down their goals are 33% more likely to achieve them.
- Revisit your goals frequently. The mind works more efficiently when you repeat instructions. One reason it’s useful to write down your goals is that you can read them to yourself daily. It’s also helpful, however, to repeat them to yourself mentally or even in conversations with others.
- Set new goals when appropriate. Goals don’t need to be set in stone. You don’t want to abandon a goal just because it’s challenging. However, you may find that as you gain experience you need to revise a goal. For example, you may need to adjust your goals regarding study hours based on your results and other responsibilities.
Understanding and Overcoming Challenges
Everyone has certain challenges when it comes to setting and achieving goals. The more honest you are with yourself, the easier it will be to overcome obstacles and challenges. When you identify a certain challenge you can set a goal on that particular issue. For example, you might find that staying up late playing computer games interferes with studying and deprives you of sleep. You could set a goal to go to bed by a certain time or to replace one hour of game-playing with an hour of study.
In some cases, overcoming challenges means enlisting help. If you’re having difficulty with a certain unit, it may help to arrange a meeting with the appropriate tutor or lecturer. He or she can help clarify material on which you’re unclear or suggest resources to help you. When you notice that you’re experiencing a certain challenge, it’s a good policy to set a new goal for dealing with this issue.
It’s also important not to abandon your goals because of setbacks. While goal-setting helps you achieve more, it doesn’t guarantee your success. When you set lots of goals, you’re bound to fall short some of the time. This doesn’t have to be catastrophic. Try to look at the situation objectively and identify why you didn’t accomplish your goal. It’s natural to feel disappointed but understand that you can always set a new goal and improve your results in the future.
Study Goals Will Help You Succeed
When you set goals, you put yourself in the right frame of mind to accomplish something. A goal is often the difference between simply wanting to do something and creating a workable plan to actually get it done. It’s a serious commitment to enrol in a vocational qualification. If you want to achieve the best possible results, you need clear goals to keep you focused and to help you overcome challenges. Keep the above guidelines in mind to help you set and accomplish study goals.
Applied Vocational Training provides a range of qualifications to help you plan for a career in animal care and veterinary nursing. For more information please contact us.