Future Student-made

Goal setting for the upcoming academic year

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Now that welcome week seems like a distant memory and university work is becoming increasingly more challenging, it’s time to think about setting some personal objectives to help yourself stay on track this upcoming year.

I have created a simple 10-step process on how to effectively create and use personal objectives that really help me to alleviate some of the stresses associated with university.

1. Reflect on the previous year and identify your strengths and weaknesses

It is important to take the time to analyse your previous year, whether that is a previous year at university or college. Start by determining what your personal strengths and weaknesses are from a list of what went well and what didn’t go so well last year.

For example, you may have struggled with procrastination during the exam season but thrived when it came to remaining calm and thinking rationally.

2. Decide on what changes need to be implemented to make personal improvement

Take encouragement from your strengths and use your identified weaknesses to identify what changes are needed for further personal development.

For example, creating a study timetable which breaks down larger projects into smaller and more manageable tasks will help address poor time management.

3. Set aspirational but realistic academic goals

Once you have dissected the past year, it is time to move onto setting some personal goals for the upcoming years at university. Remember to be realistic in what you wish to accomplish as the objectives you set should be motivating and not disconcerting.

4. Divide goals into short, medium and long-term objectives

It is a good idea to separate your academic goals into short, medium, and long-term objectives.

Your short-term goals will be those which you can accomplish immediately, and could be something like creating a realistic study timetable. A medium-term goal is one which you could complete by the end of this academic year, such as what grades you wish to achieve in the summer examinations or working on a particular academic skill you need to brush up on (don’t forget MLE courses are a great way to do this). Finally, a long-term goal is one which will take a few years to achieve: this could encompass your overall degree classification or dream graduate job.

5. Devise non-academic goals to help keep the work/life balance

To help keep your work-life balance in harmony, it is a good idea to consider what you hope to accomplish outside of academia. They can be as simple as reading 10 books, learning how to cook a set number of dishes, or exercising 3x per week.

6. Create a contingency plan for when things don’t go to plan

Whilst some challenges are unavoidable, most can be dealt with by a little planning. Having a plan B will help to minimise damage, improve reactivity, and make sure that you quickly bounce back from disappointment.

An example of a contingency plan could be, applying to reserve graduate schemes or jobs just in case your first choice doesn’t work out.

7. Write up your goals and keep them visible

Visualisation can be an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to success. By writing down your goals, you have a visual daily reminder of what you wish to accomplish. This can help keep you focused and motivated throughout the year.

8. Constantly refer to your objectives throughout the year

When working towards your goals, it is important to measure and celebrate progress by writing them down and reviewing them weekly. Even if the progression feels small, remember that any improvement is advancement towards your goals.

9. Update your goals regularly

Don’t be afraid to change your goals if necessary. Our lives are very fluid and circumstances constantly change, which means our goals need to too. However, try not to let every small bump in the road derail your aspirations, sometimes just a few extra steps might be needed.

10. Seek help if you need it

If you are starting to feel overwhelmed with university, then it is important to find the appropriate support. This can be in the form of a family member, friend, tutor, student support service, or counselling service. Reaching out for help shows great self-awareness and ability to manage challenging situations, so never fear that it will reflect badly on you.