How to Set and Stick to Your Study Goals
This is it. This year will be your year. You’ll keep up with your study schedule, finish your assignments before the due dates and approach your final assessments with a comprehensive plan. No more all-nighters and mad dashes to the finish line. You’ll rise early, get enough sleep and reap the benefits of a more organised and structured study approach.
Ambitious, right? Sweeping ambitions aren’t as effective as setting realistic goals and holding yourself accountable to follow through. Here are four real ways to set and stick to your study plans this year and beyond.
1. Eyes on the prize
Maintaining a clear understanding of what your study goals are and why it’s important for you to stick to them are powerful motivators. Sometimes, we set goals just because we think we should, but try to dig a bit deeper and see if there’s something more concrete in it for you. Sit down and spend some time thinking about how your study goals will help you achieve your career and life goals. Always connect your study goals to a greater purpose – this will help with maintaining good study habits throughout your degree.
When you achieve each study goal, reward yourself, refresh your mindset and realign your focus to your next goal.
Read more: How to Stay Motivated While Studying Online
2. Develop a time budget
Everyone is familiar with the idea of a financial budget. You establish your income, add up your expenses, and then look for where you can make cuts in order to maximise savings.
A time budget does something similar. Draw up a weekly timetable, broken down by hour, and work out exactly how you spend your time. You’ll find it breaks down into fixed commitments, quality of life commitments, and time wasters. The first category contains non-negotiables like your job, parental responsibilities and sleep. The second are commitments that you don’t have to keep but are important to your quality of life, like exercise and catching up with friends. And the third are the time wasters. Your personal time wasters will vary, but once you’ve identified yours, you can take steps to cut them down.
Also read: How to Combat Study Procrastination
If you tend towards time wasting late at night, but you’re productive in the mornings, try going to bed earlier and allowing an hour of study before work every day. If sitting in traffic is burning two hours a day, perhaps you can shift your working hours back or forwards to avoid peak hour and free up some study time there? Once it’s all laid out in front of you, it will be simpler to identify the solutions and make more time for your goals.
Once you’ve identified the periods of time you can use for study, block them out. Treat them like those ‘fixed expenses’. These are sacrosanct periods of time that you’ll use for your study goals and nothing else.
3. Partner up for greater accountability
Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we just lack motivation. Your schedule has an hour blocked out for revision, but perhaps you didn’t sleep well the night before or had a big day at work. This is where accountability comes in to play, but you don’t have to take it all on alone.
Just as a fitness buddy will drag you to the gym even when you’re tired, a study buddy or accountability partner can help you stick to your study goals. Partnering up or forming a small study group throughout your degree can significantly improve motivation, learning outcomes and the overall study experience.
An accountability partner differs slightly but can have the same motivational effects. They may be your real-life partner, a colleague or friend – anyone you trust. Communicate to them your study schedule, deadlines and goals, and turn to them when your motivation is fading. Just the act of sharing your goals and progress can make a difference to your follow through.
Read more: Collaborating for Success in Your Online MBA
4. Keep the goals SMART
SMART goal setting is one of the most effective yet least used tools for achieving goals. SMART brings structure and trackability into goal setting and creates verifiable trajectories with clear milestones. The most common variation of SMART is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. If your goals have those five attributes, you’re far more likely to stick to them down the track.
Need more study inspiration? Check out our library of study strategies and tips!
This article was written by Tanya Ashworth-Keppel on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources were used to compile this article: Entrepreneur, Fast Company and Actuarial Journey.