Strategies for goal-setting
The process of goal setting can be viewed in a shape of a coffee filter: you start by thinking about what you value in your life and how these values translate into BIG picture, long term goals. Once you have done this, you will find that you have greater clarity to make good decisions in the short and medium term. Thinking at the macro level first will help guide your daily decision-making and ensure that the immediate goals you set are couched in your value system. Therefore, it is important to spend time considering what part your values play in your academic choices.
What are your important life values? Identifying the areas of your life which are the most important to you lays the foundation for determining where you want to head in the future, that is, your goals. Take a moment to write down your life values. These values can be concrete, like “career success,” “family,” or “financial security,” or they can be more abstract, like “pursuit of excellence” or “personal growth.” Your values will evolve and change over time. You may wish to jot down all your values and then display them to get a snapshot of your life right now.
Moving from values & goals
After you’ve listed your values, you may wish to convert one (or many) of your values into a goal. It’s best if you write the goal out so it can be reviewed later. Use the SMART method of writing goals as described in the next section. After goal-setting you will need to put an action plan into play to activate and track your goal.
For a values and goals worksheet and an example, see Values-Based Goal Setting.
Identifying and recording goals
Set aside an hour or more to jot down your needs and desires for your program. Compare this list to the one you made last year. Are the goals the same? different? Are you satisfied with where you are now? If not, what changes do you need to consider?
Term or academic year goals
Goals should be set at regular intervals, perhaps each month, throughout the term. Continuous assessment of term or academic year goals will help you stay on track with your weekly and daily goals. For guidance in writing useful goals, try using the SMART method.
See: Make your goals SMART!
Review your upcoming week. What tasks need to be accomplished and when? Set aside 30 minutes, for example each Sunday night, to prepare a list of goals for the week.
Daily To Do list
At the end of each day, set aside 5-10 minutes to prepare a “To Do” list for the upcoming day. While doing this, have your weekly goals at hand so you can compare and contrast bigger picture items with here-and-now tasks. If you find that the weekly and daily tasks collide, it is time to rethink and revise.
Some students find facing a To Do list stressful, especially when they cannot complete the tasks they previously set out. Instead of a motivator, the list provokes guilt and may lead to procrastination. If this is your situation, try compiling an “Unlist.” Instead of writing a list of tasks prior to doing them, write down your tasks AS you complete them. The outcome of seeing a list of items accumulate can be very motivating. You may wish to continue adding completed items to your “Unlist” throughout the week, month, or term, whichever you find most useful.