How To Achieve Your Goals For The New School Year

Laptop with the word goals in the screen is sitting on a brown desk with a plant and notebook beside it

Every college student can achieve their goals. And the perfect time to set goals is at the beginning of a new semester. When a student sets goals they are creating a map that will lead them in the direction they want to go. This reduces stress and anxiety because you establish a clear direction forward to achieving your goals.

Goal Setting Is A Skill

We all know someone who has set a goal and fallen short. That’s because goal setting is a skill that you need to learn. It takes practice not only learning how to set the goal, but being specific about what you want, creating the desire to attain it, keeping motivated, having accountability, and considering the potential reward.

Using martial arts principles, I created a 6-step method to ensure you will achieve your goals for the new school year. Once you learn this method, you can use these steps for continuous goals throughout your life.

1. Set Your Goals

Determine Your Growth Opportunities

First and foremost, you must set your goals. In my martial arts training, I was taught in order to determine my goals, I needed to know what my weaknesses were. I want you to do the same. Write a short list of your weaknesses. These are the areas where you have the most opportunity to improve and where you know you could do better.  

Identify Your Goals

Next, write a goal next to each weakness you listed. Be specific. If your grades could be better, don’t just write I want to get good grades or to pass my classes. Set a specific goal of what grades you are aiming for and what you can do to get there. When you are deliberate about your goals you will be able to narrow your focus and accomplish them more easily.

Write something such as, I want to attend all my classes, I would like to participate in class more, organize my schedule, prioritize homework, carve out more study time, or get a little extra sleep.

Once you have identified your goals, you must put them where you can see them every day as a reminder. This is your own personal contract with yourself, you must commit to working on these goals. No excuses.

2. Get Into The Right Mindset

Mindset is everything. Change your mindset, change your life. Mindset powers your thoughts and provides you with the positive attitude, drive, and confidence that you will need to be successful. It allows you to take control of your emotions and create positive habit-forming behaviors that will produce results. How we think about things determines how we feel about them.

As you tackle your goals you will push yourself out of your comfort zone. Of course, it’s not possible to always have a positive mindset. You will have bad days from time to time. This is normal and this is also when I want you to remember: how you view your college career will ultimately determine if you will achieve your goals.

3. Create A Plan

Now that you have identified and written down your goals and your head is in the game, it’s time to properly plan for them. Without a plan, your chances for success become minimal. You don’t need to map out every last step, but it’s important to have a good sense of direction.

If you want to show up to every class, plan for that. Maybe you oversleep, or get lazy and don’t want to go, perhaps work sometimes conflicts with your class schedule. I want you to put a little time and effort into creating your plan. Go to bed earlier. Set a second or third alarm. Remind yourself why you want to earn a degree. Talk to your boss and explain your education is your priority. Map out the details to help you follow things through.

two people in karate gis bowing to each other respectfully in a dojo

4. Use Discipline To Achieve Goals

Now that you know your plan, you must be disciplined. Discipline is how you have control over your actions. It will keep you focused on reaching your goals. It is through self-discipline that you will be able to control your actions and impulses. When you lack motivation, it will be your discipline that will carry you through.

Self-discipline will be what fuels you to follow through. You won’t be the student that hits the snooze button, stays out late, or doesn’t prioritize classes and homework.

“Discipline is choosing between what you want now, and what you want most.” Abraham Lincoln

5. Remain Accountable

Working toward your goals can get really hard and frustrating. Especially if you get off track or miss a milestone. This is where accountability is crucial. You must overcome any setbacks and frustration by re-evaluating and remaining accountable. Not only should you hold yourself accountable but you can ask family and friends to be a part of your support system so they can help you too. Sometimes all we need is a little encouragement or a gentle reminder from those around us to stick to our goals. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, your family, friends, peers, professors, and mentors may be able to help you reach your goals and stay on track.

6.  Take Time To Celebrate

When you accomplish a goal it’s important to celebrate your success. Take note of all your hard work and discipline. Be proud of the process. Identify new goals for the upcoming semester and consider how you will achieve them. Like ourselves, goals are constantly changing and evolving.

Developing good habits in college is priceless. Good habits are fundamental to physical, psychological, and emotional wellness. They also allow you to live your best life long after you graduate. Be sure to read, How To Develop Good Habits In College To Succeed.