Now that the holidays have ended, it’s time to get back into a productive groove. Winter can be long, and early nightfall can easily diminish your motivation and productivity. Setting goals for the new semester might help you avoid a winter slump. They’re also a good way to remain motivated and focused.
All too often, individuals initially work diligently towards accomplishing their goals, but forget about them a few months later. In the spring, life tends to become very busy and your plans might start to fall through the cracks. Here are some ways to ensure you accomplish what you set out to do.
The first step to success is choosing your goals wisely.
The goals you choose should be feasible for you. Think about your life and your habits, and about the areas in which you’d like to improve. If you know that you only have one or two extra hours a week in your current schedule, then aim to accomplish something within those time constraints. If you know you’d ideally like to accomplish one thing, but realistically can accomplish another, then pick the one you know you can accomplish. Set yourself up for success!
The next important factor in sticking to your goals is choosing ones that motivate you. The key here is to have a genuine desire to accomplish the goal you have chosen for yourself so that you remain motivated to follow through with it.
While your goals can be in any area of your life – personal, academic, social or professional – school is a great place to start.
Here are some suggestions for you to start thinking about which goals might be right for you!
1. Make meaningful connections with your teachers. You never know who will be a valuable mentor in the future.
Developing a relationship with a teacher can be helpful in a multitude of ways. Your teacher will be a better educator the better they know you. They’ll be able to help you thrive academically. Practically, you’ll need a teacher recommendation when it comes time to apply to summer programs and college. The better your teacher knows you, the higher the quality of a recommendation he or she will be able to write for you. They’ll be able to speak to your character, your academic strengths and weaknesses, and curiosities. Outside of school, you never know who your teacher knows and can connect you with for a possible internship or informational interviews. Concretely, this can be as simple as asking for extra help before or after school once or twice a week!
2. Go above and beyond your course requirements by taking online classes, AP or IB courses, and even enrolling in college classes.
Colleges and universities like to see that you are pushing yourself academically. It shows that you are a hard worker who is committed to your education. Taking challenging classes will help you learn your own academic strengths, weaknesses and study styles, which will prepare you to excel at university in the future. Look through your school’s course catalog and see which challenging courses are offered at your school. Think about your current course load and how you are performing academically. Then, choose to enroll in one or two or more AP or IB classes accordingly. Perhaps, enroll in a college course at a nearby university over the summer, when you have more time to devote to studying. It’s best to take challenging classes in subjects in which you are interested, as you’re more likely to enjoy the learning process!
3. Listen to your body. Your health affects your productivity. The better you feel, the better the quality your work will be.
Taking care of your body is a goal that can apply to everyone in one way or another. You can strive to develop healthy habits pertaining to diet, sleep, or exercise. Like with any other goal, but especially with this one, you’re more likely to succeed if you pick one that you are motivated to stick to. Here are a few simple options that you can easily incorporate into your routine:
- Diet: Eat one extra fruit or vegetable a day, or drink one extra glass of water. Eat a nutritious breakfast – ideally every day, but especially on exam days.
- Sleep: Try going to sleep thirty minutes earlier, or avoid looking at your phone for the hour before you fall asleep. Prioritize sleep over studying if you’re feeling physically or mentally exhausted.
- Exercise: Add one additional workout to your weekly schedule; take a long walk or bike ride around town every weekend, or, if possible, walk to school instead of driving every other morning.
- Relax: School can be incredibly stressful at times, so it’s important to maintain a balance. Make sure that there’s room in your schedule for self-care, meditation, and other mindful activities like journaling or drawing. Set aside an hour on Saturday mornings to read a book for fun.
4. Make concrete long- and short-term goals.
Whether your’re aiming to ace your Chem class or get into Princeton, make sure your every day actions are helping you toward that end. Spend a day creating a vision board. Get creative! Use lots of motivational pictures, inspirational quotes, and colors. Then hang it up on your wall so that you have a daily reminder of where you see yourself in the future.
5. Spend time every day doing something you’re passionate about.
Whether you want to start a blog or learn a new language, make sure you prioritize working on that. Consider working on a new skill as much of a serious commitment as you consider homework or sports practice. Remember, a hobby can turn into a business or nonprofit with the right commitment and mindset! The only difference between something simple and something great is the amount of work you put into it.
At Command, we advise our students to pursue their passions, because we believe that success and happiness will follow. The same philosophy applies when it comes to setting goals. By the end of 2020, we hope you will have achieved many of your dreams.