Setting your study goals and making sure you stick to them
Published 31/08/2011 | 05:00
Most of us find it hard to get started on a study plan, so by setting yourself some learning goals, it enables you to set a target and to have something to achieve when you finish.
A goal is something you want to achieve. Setting goals enables you to focus on the task ahead, empowering you to achieve it, once you keep to the plan.
A short-term goal is something you want to achieve soon, such as finishing your homework, doing well in a test next week or completing an essay by the end of the week.
A medium-term goal might be something you want to achieve over the coming month/term, such as completing part of a project or catching up on a subject that you have missed class time on.
A long-term goal is something you want to achieve later in the future, such as getting a specific result in a certain subject, getting a minimum number of points or getting your dream course in third level.
To be successful in your goals you need to be realistic in your desires. Your goal should be very specific -- you need to be very clear in what you want to achieve.
Specify what you will do and when you will do it
General goals like 'I'm going to study a lot more' don't work. They must be a lot more precise. So, 'I will study a minimum of three hours a night' is a much more precise goal.
Think small at first. Create an action plan to achieve your aims.
•Think about what you will study.
•Work out how much time will be given to studying.
•Plan when exactly you will do this study.
•Write down simple tasks.
•Set a target time frame to have each task completed.
•Have a list of clearly defined, written goals for each week.
•Set a small number of goals for the first few weeks. Then decide how you will achieve these goals.
•Ask yourself questions, such as 'what will I do?' and 'what plan of action do I need to complete these goals?'.
•Always aim higher than you can think. You will amaze yourself at how well you can do.
Once you have your goals agreed, you will find yourself more motivated and you will work harder to reach them.
Sticking to your goals
Here are some ways in which you can stick to your goals effectively:
•Review your goals regularly.
•Measure and assess your progress.
•Make changes if needed but be honest with yourself.
•Set your goals on a weekly/ daily basis at first; little but often.
•Write your goals down in your designated study area. Seeing them regularly will remind you of them and this in turn will improve your chances of completing them.
Goals stop you from drifting and floating.
They empower you to start achieving.
There are many different acronyms for the most effective goals -- one of the most commonly used is the S.M.A.R.T model. It gives us a very practical definition for five areas that make your goals work best for you.
S -- Specify
Specify your exact goal instead of something vague. For example, don't write 'study geography or maths' as your goal. This is too vague. Provide enough detail as to what you want to do, instead write 'read p56-65 in geography and revise chapter on Algebra in maths and note the main points'.
i)______________________________________________ ii)______________________________________________ iii)______________________________________________
M -- Measurable
Your goal should be one in which you can measure your progress or end achievement, for example, write a summary or study card for your goal and measure what you did to achieve it.
A -- Achievable
Your goals should be set by you rather than someone else. You know your own strengths. You know what you can and need to achieve. Keep your goals challenging but within reach.
R -- Realistic
Plan what you know you are capable of. Start small, with what you can do. Enjoy the satisfaction of achieving these small goals at first. See the benefits, then gradually increase the amount of goals. Be realistic but ambitious.
T -- Time frame
Have a time limit on when you will complete this goal. Say when exactly you plan to work on this goal, such as 5-6pm on Wednesday. Bigger goals should be broken down into smaller, more manageable units.
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