Never start any of your term or semester with no goals to achieve. Even the biggest music stars, richest business people, or the most successful people you have always admired sometimes get lost. What makes them get on track once again, are the goals they set for themselves. Setting up clear goals to guide us always reminds me of the great boxer Mohamed Ali.
Mohamed Ali was a great African-American boxer of the not-so-recent times. He is a man who became successful in boxing because he set and lived by his goals. He once said this, and I paraphrase: My success in boxing started when I set my goal as to become a champion in boxing. This is the goal I set jokingly, which made me successful in boxing. Mohammed Ali said so in one of his narrations. Each day of my training, obstacles such as low energy, fatigue, pain during exercises, criticisms and many others could come my way and try to divert me from my goal of becoming a champion in boxing.
Such situations were hard for me to fight off. I was able to fight them off only when I could persistently quietly say to myself that my goal is to become a champion in boxing, nothing else. I have no other option; I have committed to become a champion in boxing. No one forced me and for this reason, I have no other option but to become a champion in boxing.
Likewise, as a student, obstacles such as low energy, fatigue, ill health, financial problems, anxiety, depression and self-doubt, will most of the time come your way during your studies? Such obstacles may be very hard for you to fight off, like Mohamed Ali. If you like to overcome such obstacles, take an example of Mohamed Ali. Set up clear academic goals before you begin each of your term or semester and become committed to your set goals.
For you to be able to set up your academic goals, this is my advice. Initially, go in a place you feel very comfortable and peaceful. In this place, relax and allow yourself to dream about what you want to achieve during your school time. Do this freely up to when you zero down on what you would like to achieve in a given term or semester.
During this time of thinking, try to eliminate all the barriers from your mind. Also, forget to be reasonable in order to allow your mind to flow high up to the field of your possibilities after school. Think like a child would do. In such a situation, you may turn on some music in the background that fits your mood. Any special music that you love to hear when setting your academic goals is very helpful. Music should be soft and not distracting but just to stimulate and free your mind.
Secondly, think about whatever has excited you. Whatever has given you a big smile on your face and happiness in your heart? As you do this, get it from your mind and write it down as fast as you can. During this time, do not be much concerned by what comes in your mind or whether it is possible or not. Forget the “How?” for the time being. Now you are all into the “What?” Avoid thinking about what it means or how difficult it would be to get there. You will do this later. So, don’t limit yourself here; think more, desire more, and put all this onto your paper.
As you do this, remember that goals are broadly classified into two categories: short-term goals and long-term goals. Short-term goals are targets we strive to achieve in less than one year. These are goals we can achieve in one week, months, or in less than a year. They are goals we can desire to accomplish soon. Examples of short-term academic goals for our studies can be: To pass mid or end of term exams with an average mark of above 70% scores
In contrast, long-term goals are the goals we fix to achieve over a long period of time. They are targets or goals that require investing more of our time, effort, and planning in. They are targets we cannot accomplish in one week, one month or even less than a year. Examples of long-term academic goals can be to become a medical doctor, to become a lawyer, or to become a pilot.
If you now have a picture of your short and long-term goals, then try to make them clearer and more interesting to you. Begin with a long-term goal. For example, if your goal is to become a medical doctor. it means you are interested in saving life after your school times. To make this goal clear and interesting to you, think of what will excite you if you become a medical doctor. Things that may excite may include things like medical doctors are respected people. This is because they save the lives of so many people, including the highest profile people you can think about. They get enough money to enable them to live a better life. Write whatever has excited you down and, after you have written this down, go to the next step. The next step is to know and understand your status quo.
Your status quo is your present situation or status. For example, your present situation may be that you are a student presently in secondary school. If you are presently in secondary school, this is good enough because your being in secondary school means that you still have the chance to become a medical doctor. Being in secondary school means that you are still within the required time to make yourself qualify for a medical degree course at a university of your choice
Your status quo may alternatively be that you are already in the university setting and, more so, you have started to do medicine as your course of choice. This is better. This means you have less than five years to go through medical school, and one year for internship.
After you have established your status quo, break down your long-term goal of becoming a medical doctor into short term targets. For example, short term goals can be based on what you target to achieve during secondary school, medical school, and eventually all through your internship.
Since grades matter a lot when it comes to achieving short-term goals, it is, therefore, very important to consider your short-term goal in terms of grades or points you need to earn at each level. For example, you can say: To be able to become a medical doctor, I will make sure that I score more than 70% during my advanced level of secondary school. And during my university time while in the medical school, I will make sure that I always score more than 60% in each course unit. This for example may become your short-term goals.
Never take your short-term goals for granted because short term goals are what will make you achieve your long-term goal. For instance, your short-term goal as a student may be to always pass exams each term or semester. However, the long-term goal may be to graduate into a given profession. The two given categories of goals are directly related. Passing your exams as a short-term goal will contribute directly to your becoming a professional medical doctor as your long-term goal strategy
As a strategy, remember also, to formulate your goals correctly, if they mismatch. They will mislead you and it may become very hard for you to achieve them. To keep yourself on track, during the setting of your short-term and long-term goals, try to follow the following standard criteria:
Make sure your goals are specific: You might say, “I want to be successful during school time.” This is not specific enough because being successful can mean different things to specified people. What does success mean to you? Success to one student may mean getting the highest mark in class, while to another student it may mean being above the pass mark. So, during goal setting be specific and mean what you want.
Make sure your goals are measurable: If your goals are measurable this means that you can achieve them because you can check yourself any time if you are on track. For example, if your short-term goal is to get above 60% in any of the subjects before the end of the semester. ‘Before the end of the semester’ as a statement, makes this goal measurable. This is a very important statement because the end of the semester specifies the time frame as your measure.
Your goals should never be negative: Because of life’s worries, we prefer to think in a negative way. Your goal should be something you want rather than something you want to avoid. It is much better to think, for instance, “I want to improve my grades over this year so that I qualify for a scholarship,” than “I don’t want to repeat this class this year”.
Your goals should be Realistic: Your long-term goals must be realistic and should match with your abilities. Stating, for example, that, “my long-term goal is to become a medical doctor in the next five years,” yet you have not attempted to attend secondary school or done any biological subject, makes this goal unrealistic. This means that you are setting yourself up for failure. You can never become a medical doctor minus knowing human biology, or going through a secondary school first.
After setting your academic goals, decide what goal you have to start with. This is what we call prioritizing. Prioritizing means that you decide what is most important to you right now. All of your goals are important, but it’s impossible to work on all of them at once. Choose what is most important right now. Focus mainly on that short-term goal that will make you yield immediate results during each term. When you concentrate on the short-term goal, because it is in line with the long-term goal you will be surprised that your long-term goals will automatically be achieved.
If you have really done this, then congratulations! You really are among the 3% of the population who have actually written goals. If you work from there and review them regularly, you could even step into the 1% of the population who do this. The goal setting is done. This can partly make you successful in your studies.