Set goals, set goals, set goals!! As a student you are likely to have heard this many times. The reasons can include…“People who set goals are more likely to achieve success”, “Goal setting leads you to opportunities” or “A friend of mine set goals and now he is rich.” So let’s say for argument sake you agree that goal setting is a good idea…what now? It is the process of setting goals that often bogs people down. As students, here are some places to get you started…next stop Successville!!
Most students struggle with attendance. Have a class at 8:30am and that struggle becomes epic. Unfortunately there is a strong correlation between people who go to class and their relative success in university (and beyond). This represents a great goal to start with. Start by trying to estimate what percentage of classes you missed last semester. Then set a goal for yourself that improves upon that amount. For example if last semester you made it to 78% of your scheduled classes, this semester set a goal to attend 86%.
Helpful Tip #1 – transfer the percentage into number of missed classes. For example 86% might mean you can miss 4 actual classes. This will allow you to track your goal more effectively.
Helpful Tip #2 – Do not be unrealistic. If you miss a lot of classes, setting a goal of 100% attendance might be setting yourself up for failure.
One of the hardest things to do when first going to school is to break out of our comfort zone and meet new people. We tend to hang out with people we already know and do things they like to do. This is especially true if you do not live on residence (which tends to force people to break out of their shells). Goal setting is a great way to help make sure you get more involved. Goals could include “join two new societies”, “get involved with student government” or “introduce yourself to 2 new classmates”. Setting goals like these will allow you to step up and step out!!
Helpful Tip #3 – Remember that if you are very shy, these goals may seem very difficult. Try setting smaller goals that are easier for you to accomplish. Accomplishing small goals gives you the confidence to tackle bigger ones.
We all go to school with hopes of getting good grades that will ideally lead us to good jobs. For many getting good grades can be stressful. Goal setting will not only help reduce that stress, it will also help you engage in what is called a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe you will do well…you will, if you believe you will do poorly, you will. Set goals around your GPA along with smaller goals for individual tests, exams and assignments.
Helpful Tip #4 – setting these goals will drive action. If you goal is to get over 90% on an assignment you are more likely to start working on the assignment earlier and doing multiple drafts versus doing it the night before and handing it in….the action is what will help you get a higher grade.
We all want to get a great job upon graduation (unless you are one of the lucky ones that can afford to travel for a couple of years). It is never too early to start setting employment goals. Set goals around summer employment. Where you want to work, the type of job you want, what skills you want to develop. Also set goals for where you want to work after you graduate.
Helpful Tip #5 – Make sure your goals around work experience while in school helps move you towards your career goals after school.
In many ways, your college experience will be about the people you meet. A great way to make sure you are capitalizing on these people is to set goals around your network. These goals can be about adding to your network “I want to meet 5 new people this week”, utilizing your network “I am going to get a written reference from one of my professors” or following up with your network “I am going to invite 2 business contacts out for coffee in the next 3 weeks.
Helpful Tip #6 – As important as writing down your goals is keeping a written record of your network contacts. You do not want to have to go digging for a professor’s contact information a year after graduating.
Sometimes the best goals are the ones that are just for our own amusement and enrichment. Jump on the bucket list bandwagon and set some goals that are FUN!! Some of my own goals include “riding a camel through a desert”, “learning a second language” and “trying a new exotic fruit each month”. Think of some exciting goals to set for yourself.
Helpful Tip #7 – It is even better if you can tie your fun goals into your professional goals!!!
Now you have some great areas to start setting your goals!! If you just set one goal for each, you will be that much closer to success!!