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Setting achievable goals for the year

By Danielle Barakat on 16 March 2021NSWblogUKblogMotivation

The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to sit down and think deeply about what you want to achieve this year and how you’re going to get there.

Setting goals is a great strategy as it not only gives you a bit of direction for the year but you can use your goals to structure your study and to make sure you stay productive and focused (without losing motivation). That being said, it’s also important to find a balance so as much as you want to achieve your goals, don’t go crazy trying to do it.

The idea of goal setting is all well and good, but how do you actually go about creating goals that are useful?

Here is your guide on how to set achievable and useful goals for this year:

1. Start with your big goal for the year

The trick to effective goal setting is to start with your big, overall goal for the year and then use that to work backwards and set yourself smaller, more regular goals that you can work on day-to-day. You probably have a few big goals for this year, especially for those of you in year 12, and that’s okay. Each goal can have it’s own associated smaller steps and strategy.

For those of you in year 12 a common goal is a dream ATAR. We aren’t saying that every person needs to strive for a dream ATAR, but a lot of the time, your dream ATAR is going to reflect your best academic self and is often the pathway into whatever course/job you have planned for next year so it’s a good example for us to use. But for those that are in younger years, your goal could be ‘getting a B grade average across all your subjects this year’ or ‘having the best academic year you’ve had so far in your schooling life’. Whatever the goal is, write it down and get ready to plan your year around it.

2. Use Term 1 marks and feedback to guide your goal setting

Now that you’ve defined the large, overall, down the track goal, it’s time to focus on how this may impact your life right now, afterall you are only in Term 1 of the year and setting goals for the end of the year feels like forever away…

Start by looking at how Term 1 is going for you. Use the feedback and assessment marks you receive this term to help you get a clear idea of where you are and what changes you might need to make to hit those goals. Even look at Term 4 of last year, go back through your results, your rankings and your feedback so that you can make smart decisions about where you think you need to focus your study and attention this year to improve as much as possible.

Write out all your subjects and your rankings/results for each of them, as well as the biggest things you need to improve on within each subject. You’re going to want to prioritize your weakest subjects (where you have the most room to improve) and start there. This will help in the next step which will be focused on making smaller more specific goals for different times of the year.

3. Make specific goals for different times of the year

This is the part of goal setting that gets very detailed. Now that you know where you’re at and know where you want to be, you need to somehow connect the dots. This is where you start making smaller goals that become super detailed and specific according to each individual subject.

These smaller goals could be a mark or a rank, and it’s going to be something quantitative that we can measure ourselves against. From here you can then make what’s going to look like a ‘to-do’ list for each subject, and every item on the list will be a step you need to take so you can achieve your overall goal.

Example

If your overall goal is to achieve above 85 in every subject, then within each subject your specific goals are going to look a little different.

For Maths your smaller goals could be:

  • Aim for above 80% in all take home assessments;
  • Aim for a mark of 90% in the final take home exam;
  • Complete all chapter reviews in the textbook;
  • Compleet Atomi quizzes for every topic in Maths and achieve above 95% in every one;
  • Do 3 practice papers every fortnight.

For English your goals might be:

  • Read my prescribed texts before the start of the term;
  • Use Term 1 to make a table of key themes and ideas and start collecting quotes that match each theme;
  • Aim to do 3 drafts of my essay before submitting it;
  • Watch the Atomi lessons on how to write a creative writing and submit a draft to teacher for review;
  • Ask the teacher for extra time to review essays and responses.

This is essentially a breakdown of the strategy you’re going to implement over the entire year to make sure you’re on the right track to achieving your overall goals. What we can see is that there are goals that focus more on general studying and having your study habits in place and then there’s goals that are specific to exam periods. We want to have goals that cover all times of the year, not just goals associated with making notes or prepping for exams. We want to be covered no matter what we are currently focusing on. Once you’ve made those goals, you can get even more specific and write detailed goals for each particular assessment and exam. This takes a bit of time but it’s worth it.

4. Holiday goals (and no, we aren’t talking about #europe2022goals)

Goals within goals within goals 😱😱😱…

The way to make useful goals is by breaking them down into small steps so you can see the exact path you’re on for the year. This includes goal setting for the school holidays. I know, school holidays = no school = no studying… but unfortunately that’s not the reality for most people who are going to be hit with assignments during the holidays anyway!

During the holidays you’re going to want to:

  • Memorise your formulae;
  • Do plenty of practice papers (particularly in the holidays before an exam block);
  • Go through your previous assignments, collect your feedback and pinpoint your regular mistakes. Do you misread the question? Do you forget to check your working? Do you forget to adapt your answers to the specific question? Identify the issues and let’s work through them;
  • Make sure your notes are all up to date and you’ve done your required reading for the next term.

Remember

We know that goal setting is important but it’s pretty hard to set goals when you don’t have a strategy in place that can actually help you achieve those goals. At this point in the year, it’s worth taking the time to look at where you are right now, where you want to be at the end of the year and exactly how you’re going to get there. Focus on pushing yourself so that you can stay productive and break down your goals into smaller, more achievable goals that will help you stay motivated and come out the other end smiling!

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