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Why you should be setting SMART goals for uni

This article appears in: Study tips
Hand holding clock to represent time management

One of the most important things you can do in the early stages of your university journey is to define your long and short term goals. These will keep you focused and motivated. Long-term goals define who you want to be and what you want to achieve. They’re the big picture view of why you’re at university.  The next step is to create short term goals to help you achieve your long-term ones. 

All your goals should be SMART; that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and within a Timeframe. 

Be specific. What exactly are you trying to achieve? Narrow down your goals so they’re explicit and precise. Be very clear what you’re aiming toward. 

Write down a few specific long-term goals. These could be to successfully complete your chosen degree, to start a new career or advance in your field. 

Make sure you can measure your goals. How will you know you have reached the goal, and how will you know you’re making progress? Having milestones along the way will help you see your progress. 

Your goals should be challenging. But they should also be achievable

For example you might set out a study plan for the week to organise your reading, writing and researching. Another short-term goal could be to pass your first assignment. When you’ve reached a goal, recognise and celebrate your progress to keep you motivated to achieve the next goal. 

Your goals should be challenging. But they should also be achievable. If it’s been a while since you’ve studied, completing CDU’s free university preparation course can equip you to succeed. It’s important to develop the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to achieve your goals. You may have work, family or social commitments, so consider what study load you can take on. 

A full-time study load requires a commitment of at least 40 hours per week. So be realistic about what you can achieve in the time you have available. 

Is the goal relevant to you and your values? Your goals should be things that you believe will make a difference to your life. Write down why your goals are important to you, and how achieving them will positively affect you. Realising your goals requires real commitment. Knowing why they are important to you is essential to keep motivated. 

When will you have reached your goal? Setting a completion date on your goals gives you a clear target to work towards. Once you have an end-point you can break the task down into more manageable steps. This will help you define what you need to do today, this week, this semester, and this year. A timeframe will help you to stay focused to achieve your goals around other commitments. 

Display your goals so you can see them

Finally, display your goals so you can see them. It will help you stay focused and reminded you of what you want to achieve. Also, share your goals with others. Let your friends and family know what you want to achieve and why you want to study, so that they’re aware of your goals and can support you. It’s really important that close friends and family have this knowledge so they feel part of your journey and not excluded from it. 

Goal setting is really powerful. Why not take a few minutes to think about what your goals might be as you begin university. 

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