Setting Your Goals Effectively

Whenever individuals think about factors that help achieve academic success, they often think about factors such as inborn aptitude, persistence, and good time management skills. However, there is also another factor that can contribute to one’s academic success just as much as the previously mentioned factors: goals.

Goals may not seem like much at first glance as they are often viewed as a benchmark for the future achievements one will achieve. However, what an individual does at the present to achieve such goals are what makes goals an important factor that may drive an individual towards academic success.

Goals are not just meant to be written in a notebook only to be forgotten and be completely disregarded. Instead, goals should be something that one strives hard to achieve and will give them the motivation they need to continue pursuing their dreams. This article will walk you through how to effectively set goals to create a positive result in your academic performance.

Why you need to set goals

Goals serve a much greater purpose than just being in a new year’s resolution while sitting pretty. Goals serve other purposes as well other than being the finish line for what an individual wants to achieve. Listed below are common benefits for having effective goals:

• Motivation

The primary purpose of having a goal is to serve as motivation to push an individual to do their best to achieve the said goal. Academic success takes a lot of time, effort, and energy to achieve, and if an individual does not have a specific source of motivation to continue the journey, they will most probably experience burnout sooner or later.

• Better mindset

Having a positive mindset is another benefit of having a goal that is a byproduct of being motivated. When faced with a stressful situation, the only factor that will affect the difficulty of solving the said situation is the mindset of whoever is facing that situation.

Individuals may view it as a roadblock meant to slow them down, or they can also view it as hurdles that will make their legs stronger to make them reach their goals faster. And it would be clear which one of the two will succeed in the future.

• Increase your focus

Distractions, be they intentional or coincidental distractions, are unavoidable when one is trying to achieve academic success, especially in a world where entertainment and leisurely activities are easily accessible for the general population. However, when an individual is set on achieving a specific goal, he is less likely to be tempted by distractions and will be able to achieve academic success easier.

• Goals will help you progress

Effectively set goals are also beneficial for one’s progress. When an individual has achieved a goal that was relatively easy to achieve, they will aim to reach more difficult goals next. This will allow an individual to progress and develop just like the goals they make.

How to set goals effectively

Goal making is a meticulous and complicated task that may help an individual to achieve academic success. This list will walk you through how to effectively set goals to help you achieve academic success.

1. Make sure to keep your goals SMART

Just like how there will be rubrics for almost every academically related activity there is, goal making also has a guide to making them more effective. The goals one will set need to be SMART, and abbreviation for the words Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

• Specific

First and foremost, a goal an individual will set needs to be specific. Specific in terms of the goal itself, the limits of the goal, and the time needed to achieve said goal. It would be ineffective to simply put a goal as “I will do well in class” and leave it at that. Try to rephrase the goal into “I will become part of the top 10 students in my class by the end of the academic year” and it will sound much less half-hearted and more inspirational.

One needs to be specific with the goals they will make for it will help them get a better picture of what they are trying to achieve. Every time they will think about the goals they have set; a specific scene will play in their mind and will push them to aim for nothing less than what they have envisioned.

• Measurable

The next trait an effective goal must have is to be measurable. This means that the goal can be evaluated to measure one’s progress. This can easily be done by following the previous trait of an effective goal which is being specific.

Abstract goals are relatively hard to measure as they have no benchmark to compare them to. The goal “I will do well in class” will be really difficult to measure as there is nothing to compare your performance to. Doing well in class can mean a lot of things and is subjective while being in the top 10 in your class is specific, objective, and measurable.

• Attainable

There will often be limits as to how big one can make their goals. This brings us to the next trait a goal must have: attainability. An attainable goal refers to a goal that can be achieved with the current tools and resources an individual has at their disposal.

Having a goal too big and grand without the tools and resources to back it up can often do the opposite of what a goal is meant to do and will instead make the individual lose motivation to continue pursuing the goal. World domination and becoming a president of a country may be too big of a goal for now so try to limit the goals you will make into something that you can attain with the tools and resources you possess.

• Realistic

Of course, goals also need to be realistic enough for them to be effective. After all, the individual who set it will have to achieve that goal. A goal that cannot be achieved is no longer called a goal and is instead classified as a dream.

Having a goal of “winning a gold medal in the Olympics” when the individual who set it has no physical prowess and is refuses to practice will only cause the individual to be upset about the goal they made. Goals are made to be achieved, so make sure to keep them as realistic as possible.

• Timely

The final trait an effective goal must have is to be timely. This refers to a goal that can be achieved within the span of the individual’s life. This trait also means that one can put deadlines in the goals they make to make them work harder to achieve the said goal.

The first example given is about an effective goal which was “I will become part of the top 10 students in my class by the end of the academic year” also exhibits the trait of being timely as there is a specific deadline for the goal which is a whole academic year.

2. Make short term and long-term goals

Another way to make effective goals that will help an individual reach academic success is by splitting the goals made into short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals are goals that can be easily attained within a short period, while long-term goals often take a lot of steps to achieve and are more extravagant than short-term goals.

Splitting the goals into short-term and long-term will allow an individual to constantly feel a sense of achievement due to the short-term goals which they have achieved. The long-term goals will then serve as something like a big boss you must face every 10 floors in a dungeon crawler game. This will allow for a constant uphill effort to achieve even better due to the combination of both short-term and long-term goals.

3. View challenges positively

Goals cannot be achieved with a negative mindset, which is why it is always better to face challenges and view them as stepping stones towards reaching your goals. There will be times when the goal you have in mind will be filled with uncertainties and challenges ahead, and it can be nerve-racking to commit to achieving said goal.

However, if you are not brave enough to take a challenge head-on and learn along the way, then your progress towards academic success will go very slowly.

4. Make a plan

Another way to constantly remind you of the goal you have in mind is to craft a written plan about the goals you plan to achieve and put it in a place where you can easily notice them.

You can create a calendar-like table about the goals you need to achieve and when you must achieve them, or just a simple list of the goals you have in mind. You can craft a plan in any way you like, however, do make sure to keep the goals you want to achieve in chronological order to act as a planner for the future and what you will achieve.

Keep track of your progress

It is important to keep track of the progress one makes with their goals. This is why after making a plan for the goals you will achieve; you should keep track of the goals you have achieved to mark the progress you have made. This will give you an idea of how far you have gone from the starting point and how many achievements you have made.

By doing so, you can give yourself a boost in morale which will enable you to push through and achieve even more goals. You can even work on previously achieved goals by making them harder to achieve. For instance, the “I will be part of the top 10 students in my class by the end of the academic year” goal can be upgraded into “I will be part of the top 5 students in my class by the end of the academic year”.


Goals are important tools one can utilize to achieve academic success. However, they are merely tools and without a skilled user, they will barely do anything to help. Make sure to put effort into achieving these goals and reach academic success. And if you ever feel like you need help, you can always hire a tutor from  FamilyTutor, a leading home tuition in Singapore to help you plan out your future endeavors.



Carelle is a teacher who has been through the ups and downs of the teacher and learner life. She wishes for every learner to gain educational satisfaction that will help embody the people they want to be in the future.

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