New Term, New Me
A new term, a fresh start, a brand new set of stationary from Paperchase. It’s the start of a new year here at The University of Derby. Generally, around this time, we begin to set ourselves new life goals. We confidently declare to our friends: “This year, I will work harder, achieve more, be the best, join every society, achieve 100% in every assignment…” Yet, only into the fourth week, do you find yourself, like me, already beginning to re-frame those resolutions you swore blind you would stick to? Have they already turned into nearly forgotten promises?
Goals, of course, are great motivators they help us map out who we want to be and where we want to go. However, instead of being goal orientated, we need to realise that although this is the beginning of a new academic year, it is also a continuation of our learning, and of ourselves. So, step away from the major life overhauls and big declarations for the new academic year, pick yourself up and instead celebrate those smaller, incremental steps and goals that make us who we are. If we recognise that life goals are gradual, and that we are “work in progress”, we are far more likely to have a greater success rate.
Here are my top tips, for setting, and keeping goals:
- Be you
Rather than trying to fit into a certain mould or forming and comparing yourself to the studious person next to you who writes copious lecture notes; or the student that effortlessly glides through assignments and parties into the early hours; realise that being you, is enough. To wish that you were someone else is to waste the person you are and you will become. You’re unique, and have a distinctive learning and developmental journey ahead of you. This is your journey and your time – do it your way and in your style. Don’t compare.
- Set less goals
There’s a famous saying that goes, ‘most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in five years’. When I reflect back over the last five years, I am astounded by what I have achieved and accomplished; yet when I start the new academic year, with vast, aspirational plans it can sometimes seem overwhelming and mountainous. Celebrate in the small changes, and reflect back often on what you have achieved.
- Set attainable goals
Don’t limit your imagination, but make sure that your goals are possible to achieve. If you set a goal that you have no hope of achieving within a week, you will only feel demoralised and erode your self-confidence. Remember be S.M.A.R.T. with your goals: set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timed.
- Make an action plan
Sometimes we are so focused on the finished outcome that we forget to plan the pigeon steps required to get there. By writing out small daily or weekly targets, you’ll find yourself crossing each one off as you complete it, giving you a sense of achievement!
- Be kind to yourself
There’s a season for everything, sometimes it will be for great growth and learning periods, and sometimes it will be just for standing still and reflection. Be okay with where you are. Don’t force seasons of life, or rush to get to the end goal. Be content with the place your in.
- Ask for support when you need it
You’re not alone. Take every resource available, whether that’s from lecturer’s, online forums, the study skills services offered at the university. To ask for help is not a weakness, it’s a strength.
No matter how much hard work and late hours you put into your studies, you will likely experience periods where reaching your goal seems like a far off dream. But keep in mind setting goals is not just about the end result – the journey you go on to achieve your goals is equally precious. Some of the skills employers value most are resilience and determination. Demonstrating persistence in achieving your goals will set you apart when applying for future jobs, and give you valuable life experience.