HOW CAN GOAL SETTING HELP WITH ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
Goals, and setting them up, a football player would agree is the purpose of the game. The goal posts are there and as a team your aim is to score. You will have practised and had team talks and chosen the best players. This is tangible and the aim of the game.
Goal setting for students is a little more abstract. Many students may not think the extra time spent on setting goals is worth the effort. However, that is far from the truth. Goal setting is one way to achieve success and improved academic performance.
Brian Tracy, a well-known motivational speaker and author of many success books wrote:
"Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.”
It is through having goals students have something to aim for, and to encourage their academic performance. The beginning of a new year, new classes and new curriculum are all good times to sit down and set some goals.
- Take some time to decide on what these goals may be.
- Then get inspired to reach these goals. The things you feel strongly about are the goals you are more likely to achieve.
- Start by thinking about your goals. Not the one that just gets you to the end of the year. It is time to be more specific.
- Break down your goal into manageable chunks. Think about the skills you will need to achieve your goal. You may feel there should be some mini goals or milestones to reach the final goal. This is part of positive planning. Mini goals will encourage you as you achieve those steps to success.
SMART is a good formula to help set goals and manage to reach them. SMART says:
S – Specific. Know exactly what your goal is and set about reaching it.
M – Measurable. The goal needs to be measured – quantify your goal.
A – Attainable. Something you know you can try to do.
R – Relevant. Choose a goal that will be of value within your lifestyle.
T – Timely. Have a time frame or you will become frustrated.
Goal setting requires some planning. Stephen Covey, author of the 7 habits series, recommends to ‘start with the end in mind.’ The goal then is to reach that end. Just knowing that you have a goal in mind is an incentive. Marking out the steps to get there helps to make it attainable. That is your planning phase. Students may want some help with the planning. Take the SMART steps to prepare your goals.
What do goals do for you?
- Goals give you direction.
- Goals help you to use your time more effectively.
- Goals help to motivate you to progress.
- Goals may give you the incentive to improve some of your skills.
- Goals are the pathway to success.
Once you have set an attainable goal look at the skills you may need to reach that goal. This is an important part of setting up your goals. The skills could be the little milestones that contribute to your overall success.
The wise old philosopher Confucius said:
“When it is obvious your goals can not be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”
These action steps are the skills you need to achieve your goals. You may find you need to improve your language skills by reading more or learning how to write better essays. If your goal is to do well at mathematics, then learning your tables and having better mental arithmetic skills may be something you want to improve on. If you are struggling in a particular area of the subjects you have chosen, then some extra tuition may be all it needs to set you closer to your goal.
Give yourself your own incentives along the way. A chart with your goals mapped out showing your progress is always encouraging. Add a timeline to visualise your progress. This is a great way to plot your course and monitor your journey towards your goal.
All this emphasis on setting goals may seem like extra time spent on something you cannot see the value of at this moment in your life. You may feel you have enough to think about without setting goals. Before you think goal, setting is not for you try to set a small goal. You will see how it changes your focus as you wake up in the morning knowing you have a specific goal you are working towards. An attainable one with skills you will be using to reach the goal. This will set you planned academic performance in a different light, a more positive and attainable light.
Goals are not just about a single act of achievement; goals should be part of a lifestyle. Once you see the value of goal setting you will always want to have goals in your plan for success. When Albert Einstein, one of the greatest minds the world has known, talks about goal setting then one should heed his words.
“If you want to lead a happy life tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” Albert Einstein.
Think about this statement in relation to your academic performance and you are sure to agree that goals will lead to more academic success.
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