It is the start of the spring semester and almost two months into a new year. That means “new me” goals are being made and New Year’s Resolutions are being broken. Working out more or spending less time on our phones may have been among some of those soon-to-be-forgotten resolutions. However, it is the start of a new semester and many of us may take time to set our semesterly goals.
As Honors students, we tend to aim high when setting our goals, but some of these goals may take a tumble once the semester gets busy. We set our goals too high, or make them too broad, so when it comes to actually achieving them, they become unrealistic (I know, for me, the latter is where I tend to struggle when goal-setting). But don’t fret! I have a few tips on how to set and keep your goals for the semester by walking you through how I have done so for myself.
1. Determine your goal.
To get started, think about what you want your goal to be for the semester. It is okay to start broad. Starting out this way helps to ease the pressure off of yourself when you are first coming up with a new goal. I find that starting with something very specific makes setting a goal that much harder to keep.
So, for me, my goal this semester is to read more.
2. Define your goal.
Next, take your broad goal and narrow it down so that it can actually be something that is achievable. Think of what criteria defines “accomplishing your goal”. With a goal such as wanting to read more, it is hard to look back at the end of the semester and say, “yes, I did indeed achieve this goal” without being able to say how. Instead, I ask myself questions like:
- “What does reading more entail?”
- “Why do I want to read more?”
- “Do I want to read more nonfiction or memoirs?”
- “Does reading more mean one book a month, five times a week, or every day?”
By asking yourself specific questions about your goal, you can narrow it down so that you are more likely to keep track of your progress and achievements.
Once I answered these questions for myself, I settled on trying to read one book a month, of any genre that I want. I see reading as a way to relax, so I want to enjoy what I read while still keeping myself disciplined when it comes to reaching my goal.
3. Hold yourself accountable.
It is important to make a record of your goal. Tell your friends and/or your family about your goals. Write them down. Keep track of them in a journal, a notebook, or even your planner. You are more likely to feel motivated to accomplish your goal if a reminder is right there in your face, and it will be harder to simply brush it off and forget about it.
For me, I have been tracking my reading goal using an app called “Goodreads”. I can see what books I have read, what books I want to read, and where I am with my reading goal. By using this app, I am keeping myself accountable because I have something documenting my progress that also serves as a reminder of my goal.
4. Set aside time.
Actively work to keep your goal. Build time into your daily schedule for achieving your goal, whether that is setting aside an hour to go to the gym in the evenings, or placing limits on your phone to cut down on screen time. Do whatever you need to do to make this goal part of your daily routine.
I make sure to set aside time each night before bed to read. I plan my schedule so that I stop working 30 minutes before I want to actually go to sleep. This way, I have about 30 minutes to wind down before bed, which gives me time to read.
5. Remind yourself why.
When life gets busy, as it inevitably does as Honors students, some goals may seem less important than others. For instance, reading a chapter of my book may become less important than studying for that Physics exam tomorrow. When this happens, it’s okay. Simply take some time to pause and reflect on why you set these goals in the first place. What is your reason for wanting to achieve this particular goal? By answering this, you can return your focus to accomplishing your goal.
I ask myself, “why is it that I want to read one book a month or even why I want to read more in general?” The reason is that books bring me so much joy. They give me that chance to escape the stresses of life. I love learning about the characters and the lives they live. I know myself enough to say that I will set aside activities like reading to prioritize school, so reminding myself that reading is important to my mental well-being and happiness is enough of a reason to keep reading and keep working to achieve my goal.
Finally, whether you are looking to achieve academic goals, fitness goals, or any other type of goal this semester, try out these steps. You may find that achieving your goals is easier than you think. Happy goal-setting!
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