Achieve what you want in your education and your career
What is one of the good habits that many successful people share? It’s goal-setting. Setting goals for your education, career, and life can help you focus your time and energy in the right direction. The process of setting a goal helps you narrow down what’s most important to you. Reaching that goal can give you a sense of satisfaction and achievement.
If you are new to goal-setting, it is best to start out small. If you set a small goal and successfully achieve it, you can set your sights on a larger goal next time. One popular way to set goals is by using the SMART method. Here’s what it means to set a SMART goal.
It’s important to set specific goals rather than general ones. A general goal like “I’m going to bring my grades up” is hard to manage because it’s too broad. Instead, make your goal specific, like “I’m going to get an 85% or higher on the next anatomy exam.” This way you will be able to focus your energy and attention more clearly, and you will get immediate feedback as soon as that exam is over.
You want to have some way of measuring whether you achieved your goal. If you just say “I’m going to study harder next semester,” you won’t have a way of measuring this. Instead, if you say, “This month, I’m going to study at the library for two hours every Monday through Thursday,” you can actually measure if you accomplished this.
A goal is meant to be achieved. If it’s an impossible goal, you will only get discouraged. For instance, if you are currently getting C’s in most of your classes, it may not be possible to bring them all up to A’s in one semester. Instead, focus on bringing them all up to B’s, and then strive for the A’s as a longer-term goal. Smaller, achievable goals are more likely to be successful than trying to go all the way to the top.
Reaching your goal should be rewarding. You want to select goals that are meaningful to you so that you feel a sense of reward when you accomplish them. If you are not inspired by your own goals, you will be less likely to put the work into attaining them.
Your goals should have a timeline or end date. If you set an open-ended goal like “I’m going to be a better student,” you have no way of knowing when you’ve reached your goal. If you put a timeline on your goal, like “I’m going to bring my practicum grade up to a B by the end of this semester,” then you will know whether you’ve achieved it or not.
Once you have set a SMART goal or two, what’s the next step? The next step is to start the hard work that it will require to reach your goal. Here are some pointers on how to make your way toward those goals:
- Create a timeline or checklist of the tasks you need to do to reach your goal, with target dates for each task
- Write all the tasks on a to-do list or in your online calendar/reminder system
- Think about barriers that may get in the way of achieving the tasks, and find ways to avoid the barriers
- Ask others for help if you think you need it
- Tell a friend, teacher, or mentor about your goal, to help give you more accountability
- Write your goal on a piece of paper, and hang it somewhere you will see it every day
- Most importantly: Don’t give up!
For more information on building your focus and determination, try these tips on getting organized. We hope this advice starts you on your way to setting SMART goals to guide you on your life’s path. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish!
The Harris Casel Institute encourages its students set high expectations for themselves and to reach their career goals with us. Find out about our nursing assistant, home health aide, and practical nursing training programs by contacting us online.