Establishing goals gives you a clear vision of what you are working towards and how you will get there. When you feel stuck, having a goal becomes a motivator, as it reminds you why you are doing something and helps you to stay on track. Let your goals guide how you prioritize and allocate your time.

Here are ways to set goals and ensure you stick to them: 

Write it down

The act of vividly describing your goals is associated with achieving them, and there is an explanation based in neuroscience for it. Make your goals SMART, that is, specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. It doesn’t matter where you write them down – a planner, a whiteboard, an app – just have a single place where you can store and track your goals so that you are accountable for them and you can recognize when you have accomplished one.

Make your goals realistic

Ambition is a good thing, but sometimes having overly ambitious goals hinders your ability to complete them. Setting goals that are achievable makes them that much easier to reach — and the easier the goal, the more motivated you will be to work towards it. 

Use campus resources

Carleton offers a wide variety of support services for your personal and academic needs, including peer study sessions and academic advising. We have compiled a list of services you can access as an online learner on our Student Services at Carleton page.

Reward yourself

Give yourself a reward for the little victories. Small reinforcements will encourage you to stick with your goals and keep going. 

Keep making more goals

Once you accomplish a goal, add another one. This will encourage you to maintain your good habits and push yourself further. 

Practice self-care

Set aside time to take care of yourself. Take time off when you need it and don’t feel guilty for looking after yourself. Balance helps you stay focused. 

Change the pace

Make sure to have a good mix of short-term and long-term goals. 

Involve your friends

Setting goals with your friends can help you stay motivated as you work together to reach them. Friends are also a good source of encouragement for those days when tasks seem insurmountable. 

With contributions from Raylene Lung