Your Guide to University Success | GRAD - page 28

Planning and goal-setting
Just getting through every day of the first se-
mester may have felt like all you could handle,
but now you can take a breath and look back at
the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of
the year, or if you haven’t done so yet, set those
goals now. Going on an important journey
without a map is not clever. Your goals are your
map for your journey towards a qualification
and, beyond that, a career.
Set goals for more than just your studies.
Time at university is also an opportunity to
learn other life skills, to make friends, to set
patterns for healthy living. Think of goals for
test and exam results, participation in student
life (societies/house committees), friends and
family, exercise/sports, spiritual activities –
everyone is different, with different areas of
interest. Follow your heart, not only your head.
Did you write down some goals earlier in the
year? Look at them again. Have you achieved
some or all of them? Are those goals still valid?
Adapt them, or start from scratch.
A goal needs to be
SMART
:
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Specific
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What exactly does the goal entail?
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Measurable
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Does the goal have subsections,
like the number of courses you
need to complete?
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Will you know when you have
reached your goal?
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Attainable
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What will it take to make your
goal a reality? (Money, time,
resources, etc.)
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Can you make it happen?
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Relevant
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Do you really want to reach
the goal?
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Why?
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Are you willing to do what it will
take to reach it?
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Time frame
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By when does it have to be
reached?
Start with the long term: what do you want to
have achieved by the time you leave university?
Then think carefully about what that would
mean in terms of the next three months, the
next year, and so on.
Setting goals allows you to remain focused
on the big picture and stay on course to get
there. Check your goals regularly to ensure you
are still progressing in the way you want to, but
be flexible, because short-term goals sometimes
need to change in order for you to achieve the
long-term outcome you are striving for. If you
follow a map, you may come to a place where
the road is blocked by construction work. You
will then have to find a different route, but that
does not mean you are changing your destina-
tion. The same is true for striving towards a
goal. Checking your goals regularly will help
you recommit to them.
Take a step back and consider
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how far into the
future you need/ want to plan
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what study, career
and other objectives
are most important to you
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whether there is flexibility for
unexpected detours.
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