A new year—and a new decade—is right around the corner, which means it’s time to visualise the kind of student and person you want to become via your goals for 2020. Whether your aspirations are individual, academic, financial, or career-focused, goal setting is one of the most dynamic tools for happiness, vitality, health, and success.

Why are goals so important? Mario McCracken explains in his Inc. article: “Goals provide clarity. We all know that when we have a clear vision or desire, taking the proper action is easier. When faced with obstacles, goals help us make choices. When a goal is in place, the standard has been set. The destination made clear. Even though the route can change, the objective has been determined.” 

If you want to establish and then continue to slay your 2020 goals, goal-setting is the way to do it. “When you know where to go, taking the first step is less hard. Taking the 100th step is easier. Every step along the journey is part of the process,” says McCracken. 

But what makes an effective goal, and what strides can you take to pursue it? 

We laid out a super easy guide for uni students to both determine and achieve their goals for 2020. 

First, How to Narrow Down Your Goals

Before you can focus your efforts and attention on goal setting, you need to decide what you want your goals for 2020 to be. The more direction you establish around your goals, the easier they will be to stick with—in this next uni term and beyond.

Determine What You Genuinely Want to Achieve 

Motivation is the outflow of desire. Asking yourself a series of questions can help you understand what you’re passionate about and what you want this year. We borrowed a list from professor and communications expert Megy Karydes, to get you started. Ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What do I enjoy but could get better at doing?
  • What energises me? What relaxes me?
  • What tires me? What distracts me? What stresses me out?
  • What are the most important qualities or people in my life?
  • What is one habit I want to change?
  • What am I the most afraid of?
  • What do I want more or less of in my life?
  • What can I do to improve in the classroom or relationships?

Hint: you might want to jot these down in a journal, or copy and paste into a doc and type out your answers. 

Select a Mix of Both Short- and Long-Term Goals 

To maintain your drive, ambition, and enthusiasm, find goals that you can quickly achieve. This boosts your confidence and keeps you motivated to pursue longer, more complex goals. The University of Nottingham lists some ideas for both short- and long-term goals. 

Short-Term Goals for 2020 

  • Join a sports team, volunteer project, or student organisation.
  • Improve your writing, research, and time management skills.
  • Be part of a committee to plan events at your uni.

Long-Term Goals for 2020 

  • Start thinking about a topic to delve into for your dissertation.
  • Look into studying abroad to learn a new language and culture.
  • Gain career experience through work placement or internships.

Next, How to Successfully Attain Your Goals

Once you chose which short- and long-term objectives to work towards, the next phase in goal setting is to create an action plan to reach them. This provides you with the structure, guidance, and reinforcement you’ll need during the entire process. So here are three simple steps to kick start your goal setting for 2020—all of which can easily be incorporated into your established uni routine.  

1. Frame each goal in both positive and realistic terms. 

A major obstacle to goal setting is the perception that you are not skilled, qualified, or talented enough to achieve them. Self-doubt derails motivation. Instead of fixating on potential shortcomings, focus on the positive, realistic efforts that you can make to advance closer towards your goal each day.

As Lifehack notes, “The way that we choose to frame our lives will depend on our personal happiness and achievement. The fact is there will be times when you don’t have control over an event or situation. You do, though, have control over the way that you view the event or situation. You can choose to view it negatively, or you can choose to view it positively. Consider how the experience will help you move forward and remember that failure is a pre-requisite for success.”

2. Track your progress with methods of accountability. 

To make sure you remain on schedule with your goal setting timeline, it’s important to visually measure and monitor your progress. Here are techniques you can use to track your momentum and ensure that you make consistent headway:

  • Enlist a trusted and reliable friend, mentor, career advisor, flatmate, or someone else who can hold you accountable and check-in regularly.
  • Keep a large whiteboard inside your hall or flat. Create a calendar on it with monthly benchmarks to aim for, ideas to make the process easier, and inspirational quotes to mobilise you into action.
  • Use goal setting apps or software to access real-time updates on your personal growth, academic performance, career objectives and financial management. There are a ton of options available, a few of our favourites include Lifetick, Coach.me, Habit List, Toodledo, and GoalsOnTrack.

3. Celebrate when you reach an incremental milestone. 

In the workplace, 78 percent of people are more productive when they earn recognition for their efforts, according to a Globoforce survey. Even though you’re a student who has yet to enter the workforce, you can still apply this incentive toward the pursuit of your goals here at uni.

Any time you achieve one of your goals for 2020, acknowledge it and reward yourself for that successful milestone—no matter how small or trivial it feels. Self-gratitude and recognition activate pleasure centres in the brain which influence you to duplicate whatever action led to the initial reward, according to a study published in Neuron Journal

So if you want to form and solidify habitual behaviours that help reach your goals, celebrate each marker of progress with some kind of recognition! Your reward can be Netflix binge, a nice dinner, a massage or pedicure, a night out with your mates, or even a latte! 

(PS: If you want to reward yourself with a nice supper, try one of these 5 Top Restaurants in Sheffield for Students). 

SLAY Your Goals for 2020 

When you practice goal setting as a uni student, you establish healthy habits for personal and professional success as you advance in life and your career. Remember your goals for 2020 don’t have to be monumental or crazy, focus on achievable actions that will make you happier in the New Year. 

Resolutions are so last decade, let’s choose realistic goals to make 2020 the best year yet!