Thursday, December 20th, 2018...5:27 pm

5 Tips To Help You With Your Goals in 2019!

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By: Samara Moore, Gradlife Ambassador

Do you make it a practice to set goals for the new year? Are you someone who has an idea about what you want to achieve this year, but do not find it necessary to write it down? Do you intentionally avoid new years resolutions, and prefer to set goals for yourself throughout the year instead?

Whatever your approach is to goal setting, I am sure that we can all relate to wanting to make changes in our lives. Change is a difficult process. It is not uncommon to experience challenges, as we attempt to try new things and make adjustments. At different points in my own life, I have experienced:

  • Setting a goal for myself and not following through to achieve it
  • Struggling to stay motivated and accountable to achieve a goal that I have set
  • Feeling defeated when I have not met a goal, despite my best efforts to achieve it

I have included five tips that I have learned and implemented in my own life. I hope that they are helpful to you, as you work on your own goals this year.

1) Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Setting S.M.A.R.T goals is an incredibly useful way to set yourself up to achieve your targets. It provides a practical method to structure and evaluate your goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals are:

  • Specific
    • Well defined
    • Example
      • Not specific: To participate more often in class, to run more
      • Specific: To speak at least twice during each class discussion, to run for 30 minutes daily
  • Measurable
    • To be able to accurately measure your progress
    • To be able to measure that you have successfully completed your goal
    • Example:
      • Counting how often you speak in each class
      • timing the length of your runs, and the number of days that you run during the week
  • Attainable and Actionable 
    • Setting goals that are realistic and attainable
    • Develop a plan or outline for how you will achieve your goal
    • If needed, breaking down your goal into smaller, attainable steps (smaller goals)
    • Example:
      • Create notes about salient points from course readings, to help better organize your thoughts and build confidence to speak in class
      •  Developing endurance to run for 30 minutes, by setting subgoals. Start with a small goal to take 10 minute runs. Then, set a goal to increase your running time by 5 minutes each week.
      • Subgoals could also be applied to the frequency of your runs. For instance, a smaller goal could be to run for 30 minutes, two days a week. This could increase over time to 30 minute runs everyday.
  • Relevant and Realistic
    • Setting goals that are:
      • Important to you
      • Worth the time and effort needed to achieve them
      • Realistic, given the resources and time available to you
  • Time-based
    • Have a clear timeline for when the goal should be achieved
    • Example:
      • To be able to speak at least twice during each class discussion, by the 4th week of the semester.
      •  To be running for 30 minutes everyday, in 3 months.


2) Get an accountability partner

Sharing your goals with a supportive person who can periodically check-in with you on your progress, is a great way to stay accountable to following through on your goals. I have found having accountability partners incredibly helpful, in terms of helping me to stay on track. I have also found the process of supporting each other to be mutually beneficial.

3) Check-in on your progress quarterly

When I set goals for the year, I have found it very helpful to check-in on my progress every three months. It has given me the opportunity to pause and evaluate whether I am working toward my targets. I am able to consider if any adjustments need to be made, or new action steps implemented. This can be done individually and/or with your accountability partner. I find it useful to review and reflect on my progress on my own, and then meet with my accountability partner. If you have a more short term goal, you may want to check-in on your progress halfway through.

4) Leverage Campus Resources

As students at the largest university in the country, we have many resources available to help us meet our goals! I have included links to some campus resources that may be helpful to you, including our Gradlife website.

5) Be Self-Compassionate

Self-compassion is a critical and often neglected component of working toward any goal. I will admit that it is something that I struggle with at times. It is important to remember that change is not a linear process. There may be mistakes and setbacks along the way, but try to show yourself kindness as you forge ahead. Terry and Leary (2011) found that self-compassionate people were actually better able to meet their goals, partially because:

  1. They tend to set realistic goals for themselves
  2. They tend to persevere when they backslide

While the tips provided here are certainly useful for goal setting, they do not guarantee that we will achieve every goal all of the time. Sometimes despite our best efforts, we are not able to meet our goals. I think that it’s important  to remember that our success in life is not just measured by whether we succeed in meeting all of our targets. Our success is also measured by what we learn from failure, and how we respond to it. I came across a quote about setbacks that really resonated with me. I have included it below, in hopes that it may encourage you.

“What do you first do when you learn to swim? You make mistakes, do you not? And what happens? You make other mistakes, and when you have made all the mistakes you possibly can without drowning – and some of them many times over – what do you find? That you can swim? Well – life is just the same as learning to swim! Do not be afraid of making mistakes” -Alfred Adler

It has been a pleasure to be your Gradlife Ambassador this term! I hope that you will join us at our upcoming Grad Talk on Staying Motivated as a Graduate Student.

I wish you a happy and safe holiday season! See you in the new year.



Work Cited

Terry, M. L., & Leary, M. R. (2011). Self-compassion, self-regulation, and health. Self and Identity, 10(3), 352-362.

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