Goals come in all shapes and sizes with different motivations. Our goals are personal to each and every one of us and it’s up to you to get started. Here are just a few things to remember when setting new, meaningful goals.
Tips for setting meaningful goals
1. Your goals should come from a place of love and self-respect.
It’s great to want to improve upon yourself, accomplish new things, and make changes in your life. However, it is also important to know that you are unique and original. Work with what you have to better yourself. Your goals should be based on you and compared with yourself. Never make goals as a competition or comparison with others. Work on your mindset and attitude about each goal you pursue. This will help you understand your motivations and evaluate whether the goal is truly for you and your overall improvement and wellbeing. If your goal comes from a place of low self-esteem or negativity towards yourself, try considering those feelings first. Then, re-evaluate what you want to accomplish and make adjustments.
2. Your goals should be realistic.
This is a broad point because the goals we set should be realistic in many ways. One well-known approach to setting goals is to be SMART. This is an acronym, which stands for setting goals based on the following criteria:
Specific – Make sure that you understand what you are working towards and how to get there. Instead of setting a goal to get a perfect score on your next test, set a goal to improve 1 letter grade in the course by investing 2-3 hours of study time a week, completing and submitting all assignments on time, and making a greater effort to ask for help from teachers and peers when a concept or topic is confusing or another explanation is needed to understand. This latter goal is longer but it will help you get to the end result with a direct plan of action.
Measurable – Tracking your progress is an important part of setting a goal. Make sure that you know the big and small milestones to reach. The greater measurable goal here (in our example) is to improve 1 letter grade in our course, but the smaller measurable goals are to get a B on the midterm, get 80% and above on all graded assignments, get a B or higher on our final exam, and make sure to keep a calendar or study chart to track the time spent studying, reviewing, and practicing the material each week.
Achievable – Based on the things going on around you that may affect the time you are able to commit to achieving a goal, and based on your own capacity, make sure that you set goals that are within your reach. You still want to challenge and push yourself but knowing what is within your capacity is an important part of the process. This is why our goal, in the example above, is to improve 1 letter grade, instead of ace every last test and assignment through the end of the year. We have other courses that we know we cannot fall behind in, we have sports practice, play an instrument, have our daily chores, and need time for family and friends (to remain sane). Balance is an important part of being realistic with the goals that you set for yourself. Throwing all you have into a goal can be great to a certain point but it’s not sustainable in your effort to ultimately achieve what you set out for.
Relevant – Be sure that you are not wasting time working towards something if there is no self improvement once you’ve reached the end of your journey. Relevance can mean various things and is different for everyone. This goes back a bit to #1 on our list, here. Just make sure that the goal is relevant to you and what you want in the future. In our example here with improving 1 letter grade, we are working on building habits that will help us solve problems and tackle challenges and also working to bring up our GPA. Both are going to benefit us as we move through our academic journey – opening up our options and the opportunities when we begin considering the steps that come after graduation.
Time bound – Having a set time frame to accomplish a goal will help make sure you are on track to reach it. Being realistic about the time it takes to complete a goal is something to consider. Make sure that you understand the difference between a short term and long term goal. Some things take time and require some patience to see results, where as with others, you’ll see improvements or outcomes in a relatively short period of time. Be sure to set a timeline and deadline for your goals. Give yourself the right amount of time to be able to achieve the goals you set out to accomplish.
3. Understand that things do not always go according to plan.
This may be one of the most important points to remember! Pivots, and sometimes halts, along the road to reaching our goals are natural. Your ability to make adjustments, face challenges head on, and get back on track will only make you stronger! No one is perfect which means that making mistakes is unavoidable. Learning from those mistakes is how to improve and make real progress. There will be days where you’ll lose sight of the end goal, lack motivation, or may not reach a milestone - and that is more than okay! Consider what caused the bump in the road, move on, and get back on track the next chance you get.
Achieve your goals
Have a healthy mindset and attitude about the goals you set for yourself, only working to improve yourself based on YOU and your previous goals and accomplishments. Never compare your progress to others.
Be realistic about the goals you are setting for yourself. Set a plan, a way to track your progress, consider your capacity, what you are trying to accomplish in the long run, and set a timeline. Don’t forget to be patient. Some things take time.
Understand that there will be bumps in the road to success but never let that stop you. Live to fight another day!
Remember to consider all these things throughout the year when re-evaluating your goals and accomplishments and when setting new goals for yourself. This is a never ending process to be the best that we can be.
Now, we are ready to tackle our goals and hope that this helps you conquer the ones you set for yourself throughout the year and beyond!