Being productive is good for our mental health. It’s even more rewarding to be productive when you’re completing an intentional and mapped out plan. Being a university student means we must have specific strategies for completing assignments all the time. In this way, we’re constantly setting goals for ourselves; “I’ll do this reading on Tuesday afternoon”, “I can finish this in two hours”, and “tomorrow I’ll go to the bookstore.”
This weekend, I was planning what I would do with my reading week- then I realized that it’s officially the second half of the semester, and I haven’t really achieved many of the things I set out to in the beginning of the school year. I’ve noticed some habits I exhibit when creating goals for myself, and I’m learning to change and work around them. Here are some lessons I’ve discovered about goal setting.
I have a rough past with procedures and tactics. I’ve never been the type of person to plan ahead, definitely I’d say I’m more likely to throw myself into things. My friends say I’m spontaneous, but my mom would claim I’m accident prone. During my year off, I made a giant poster of all the things I was going to accomplish in that time. I ended up doing only one of them, and feeling disappointed in myself every time I caught a glance of that brightly coloured, optimistic landscape of broken dreams.
Realizing what “achievable” looks like for you is a crucial step to setting goals. Everyone has different levels of motivation, and different opportunities for success.
Something I’ve learned on how to set reasonable objectives: make sure you can imagine yourself following through with each step. This could have come in handy when I decided “learn how to drive” was a good place to start my “Goals Board”. Now, I make sure that I know exactly what steps to take to get to the end product. For example; one of my goals for this reading week is to write an essay for my literature class. I’ve broken down the process into (relatively vague) steps. Step 1: gather quotes, step 2: form outline of arguments, etc.
There are lots of different types of goals. Since I’m thinking now about things I want to achieve in this semester, I’ll be considering mostly short-term objectives.
There are the more immediate, easily completed plans. These are things you can usually accomplish in a day or a week. Because I’m a wimp and not very good at being an adult yet, for me these things look like getting the flu shot, or calling the dentist. They require less self discipline, but it’s easy to be too lazy to do them. For these ones, I set reminders in my calendar and tell myself that once they’re over with I’ll feel better.
Second are the ones that take more time, but often count as important steps toward a long-term goal. Accomplished within a week to a month, these ones usually require more thinking ahead and specific steps. Personally, these look like “attend a seminar” or “read a manual”. I always make sure I know which resources to access, who to talk to about the best methods, and how long each part of the process will take me. Of course, the tips for the previous type apply here too.
Third and last are semi-long-term goals. These are usually the ones that take a varying length of time based on your own preferences and opportunities. They could be about school, or about personal life, but they always require a continuous and consistent effort. Which is why I make sure the steps consist of something I generally enjoy doing or am passionate about- to make the process easier. For me, these look like “visit the gym more” and “read 10 novels”. I like reading, and make sure to choose books I’m interested in. For fitness I make sure to engage in activities I think are semi fun, so I don’t lose motivation and give up.
What really matters when setting goals for yourself is your own personality. If you can’t see yourself staying determined throughout a process, you’re not likely to achieve what you set out to do. Even if it is a difficult and time-consuming objective, it’s important to search for alternatives that will benefit you most.
What are your goals for this semester?