The new year often causes many of us to think about new beginnings and is a common time for resolutions. What goals do you have for this year?
Where do you start? Think about the changes you want to make in your life. Do you want to start doing something? Stop doing something?
Once you have an idea of what you want to work toward, ensure that the goal or goals you set are realistic and achievable. If your average is 70% in your courses, setting a goal to achieve 100% on every single assessment in all of your courses might be unrealistic and difficult to achieve. However, setting a goal to improve your grades by 10% on the majority of your assessments for the rest of the school year is more realistic and achievable. It’s also important that the goal is measurable. In the previous example, attached to the goal there is a percentage which can easily be measured by comparing your grades. Setting a goal to “improve your grades” is still a goal, but it’s less easily measured and therefore can be easier to lose sight of. Your goals should also be challenging. Setting a goal to improve your grades by 1% is not sufficiently challenging or rewarding enough to cause you to be motivated in any really worthwhile way. In short, make your goals clear and measurable.
Making a Plan
So, if your goal is to improve your grades by 10% on most of your assignments and tests, how can you achieve this?
Planning is one of the most important parts of goal setting! What new practices can you implement that will help you succeed? Perhaps you haven’t been completing homework or practice assignments. These are in place to help you learn and will result in better performance on assessments. Possibly the format in which you are approaching studying is not working for you. Are you an auditory learner but you have been studying only by reading your textbook? Try reading the content aloud and recording it, then play it back. Determine what type of learner you are here. Once you complete the short quiz, you will learn about different study styles that might work best for you.
Maybe your goal is to get outside for a 20 minute walk each day for the rest of the season. What do you need to do to make sure this happens? Try to set aside a specific time each day that is dedicated to walks, or it may be a good idea to set reminders on your calendar. Whatever your goal is, take time to think about what you can do to make it happen, and don’t become frustrated or disappointed in yourself if your plan breaks down. Such occasions allow you to reconsider your approaches to your goals. Patiently examining what went wrong will allow you to reset your plans and quite likely succeed, possibly in ways you hadn’t expected. You don’t have to wait for next New Year’s to begin new projects or start refocusing your plans.
Checking in on your progress is also important. Your goal to improve grades by 10% is one that is fairly easy to check in on by reviewing your results on each assessment. Some goals, however, are more difficult to check in on. If your goal is to go outside for a 20 minute walk each day for the rest of the season, creating a journal to track your walks will help you look back to reflect on how successful you have been. Is your goal to eat more vegetables in 2018? Log your meals and snacks in a food diary. Your approach depends on what works for you. Is your goal to spend less time on your phone this month? Download an app that tracks how much time you are spending on your phone. Your approach depends on what works for you. How often will you check in your goals? Weekly? Monthly? These are all important things to consider. If you check in, but you aren’t meeting your goal, look back at your plan and make some changes to it.
If you are successful in achieving your goals, they can become components of your life long-term. For example, if you find a study method that works for you, you’ll likely continue to use it. If you eat more vegetables in 2018, you may find that you naturally choose vegetables as part of your daily diet going forward.
Ensure you celebrate your accomplishments! Having something to look forward to makes it easier to stay determined and focused. What motivates you? Is it watching movies? Hanging out with friends? Going shopping? Choose a reward for yourself that will keep you on track on those days when you’re finding it difficult to go for a walk, study for a test, eat the vegetables, or put your phone down.
Goals at VHS
Setting goals in your online course is important in a self-paced environment like Virtual High School’s. Without deadlines in place, it can be challenging to stay on track. If your goal is to complete your course by the end of June, that’s fantastic! But don’t forget to make a plan, set checkpoints, and keep thinking about the reward. Achieving your goals gives you a sense of accomplishment and feelings of real success. These experiences are enjoyable and instill better work practices that will have positive results in post-secondary studies or in the workplace.
What other methods do you use in goal setting? Comment below with your ideas.