The research is very clear: Setting goals is good for you! Having a strong set of goals improves academic performance, increases your motivation to achieve, improves self confidence, and increases your personal pride and satisfaction of the finished product.
There are three main types of goals you might set at the beginning of a school year. These include long term goals, mid term goals and short term goals.
Long term goals are focused on the end game, the big picture or something you want to do or be in the future, whether 2-3 years from now or 10-15 years away. They are important for a successful career and life. A long term goal requires planning and time. Breaking your long term goals into smaller mid and short term timeframes will help you achieve the long term goal that you ultimately desire.
Naturally, mid term goals and short term goals are shorter, time spans and are more quickly attainable. Usually, a mid term goal spans over a two month to 3 year timeframe. Examples might include term or half year goals, while a short term goal is something you want to achieve today, this week or within the next 2 months. Often short term goals are small steps towards a mid or long term goal. Both mid term and short term goals should align with the long term goal and what you are hoping to achieve.
Once you have set your goals and know what you would like to achieve there are some key factors to ensuring your goal setting is successful.
P= Positive: Ensure you state your goals using positive words. What you focus on is what you get. Are you focused on what you want or the opposite? Steer clear of negative words such as ‘don’t.’ A fascinating fact about the brain is that it is unable to initially process the word don’t. For example; don’t think of yellow. Don’t think of a pink dog and don’t think of a purple tree. You are likely to have thought or imagined those things and then as a secondary consideration, thought, “Oh, I’m not supposed to think of that.” Knowing this, frame your goals in terms of what you DO want to achieve. Instead of, “I don’t want to fail my test,” say, “I will pass my test with ease.”
R = Realistic: Richard Branson and Bill Gates say if you want to change the world, set a goal that is unrealistic and then work towards making it happen. However if you are not aiming that big just yet, setting goals that are realistic is recommended. This means being speci c about what you want to do and choosing something that is attainable within the time frame you have set. If you cannot swim, being chosen for the swim team this summer is not likely to be realistic, however it could be if you work towards it in the long term. Having a benchmark of where you are at now will help with this. Take stock of your current skills and abilities and be honest with yourself. Now set a goal in a timeframe that you are willing to work for. Persistence, focus and hard work will be required so your goal must be worth the effort.
O= Objectives: Break your bigger goals into small achievable steps. This helps engender the feeling of achievement, which in turn gives you small wins and increases your motivation to keep achieving. You may have many steps towards a goal. The clearer the pathway the easier it is to take each step towards completing your goals. Having a mentor or a coach might also be useful. It might be a parent, teacher or a friend who is willing to hold you accountable.
An important note is just because you have set your goals, it will not always be clear sailing. You are likely to face challenges along the way. When you do, here are some hints to keep you on track:
1 Recognise the need for and be willing to ask for help. If you feel like you are stuck and not sure how to move forward, ask for guidance. This may be from a trusted friend, teacher or parent. It could be by accessing an online video tutorial, a webinar, or reading an online article.
2 Once a month stop and reassess. Are you moving towards or away from your goals? Always knowing where you are at will help you take the next steps and keep you on track.
3 Identify potential obstacles at the start and plan for a way to combat them. Knowing what might stop you moving forward and planning to be able to adapt to these factors will make the challenging times easier to handle.
4 Aim for progress not perfection. Perfection is unattainable as there is always more you can do to improve, so focus on the progress you are making.
5 Display your goals in a place you see them every day. These may be written or displayed in picture format as a vision board.
6 Build in mini rewards at each step. This will help hold you accountable as well as create a bigger sense of achievement and progress.
Have a super successful year with your PRO goals.