Goal setting as a student

I love reading the Plannerisms blog, especially the posts on setting goals and planning to achieve them. My problem is figuring out how to actually fit them into my life. Being at university means living life on an academic year schedule, where my free time is somewhere around summer (I’d be more specific, but I have now been at uni for every single month of the year at some stage in the past few years!), and the rest of the year is a rollercoaster of placements and assignments and other things that mean “I want to achieve X by time Y” is a little bit harder to plan for than in a year-round job.

The general consensus is that a goal isn’t a goal without being SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. I say so long as it’s attainable and you can put a tick in a box when it’s recognisably done, it’s a goal. I often have goals that have very flexible end points, or no set time frame at all. If you have to put a goal to one side because uni has put you in a position where you can’t work on it, that’s fine, just come back to it when you can, if it’s still relevant then. Taking time out from that goal doesn’t mean failing to achieve it, it’s just refocusing your life on what’s important right now. And things like exams generally mean that everything else goes out the window – that diet you were on, that project you wanted to complete, that skincare routine you were gonna stick to; it just turns into days of eating cereal for dinner and leftover pasta for breakfast, doing nothing but laying in bed holding a textbook (revision by osmosis, honest) and occasionally swiping at your face with wipes and putting on sunnies to leave the house because your eyebrows have taken over your face. Or that might just be me…

An awesome example of goal setting! (Source: Google Images)

I think people get hung up on meeting their goals and forget that they’re kind of arbitrary things that you set yourself, so if you want to change your mind and discard a goal then that’s fine. Just remember why you set it in the first place – if that’s still relevant to you, figure out where you can fit it into your life. Things like reading more books come a lot easier when you’re not tackling a uni reading list at the  same time (and are so much more enjoyable on a sunbed with a jug of Pimms to hand), so save it for summer. If it’s not relevant any more, why continue?

It’s a good idea to reassess your long term goals and your progress towards them on a regular basis, and this is the one thing an academic calendar is good for – the end of term is perfect for looking at what you achieved, thinking over what went well and what didn’t, and how to improve on it next term or next year. It’s my end of term this week, so I’ll be looking over what I achieved this year and what I didn’t get round to, and drawing up my goals for next year and the rest of this ‘normal’ year (by which I mean 2013!). I’m definitely going to avoid scheduling other projects in exam season next year, and work on building up one of the weaker areas of my CV, and this time I do have a very fixed deadline because it’s out of my hands: job applications are coming up!

Did you have goals for the last academic year? How are you gonna change them for the next year?


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