Eyes on the Prize: The Importance of Goal-Setting

Article by: Gisele F.F.

Edited by: Carmel L.

Visual by: Suman P.

Goals. It seems like a broad and lofty term, yet its meaning holds so much significance for so many successful adults and students alike. At times, goals are hard to reach, while in other times, goals can be completed in hours. But what truly counts is the individual’s drive to achieve them.

Some students in the IB or AP programs don’t even realize that they are setting goals on a daily basis to accomplish their assigned work. Student expectations have become so high that students begin to subconsciously set goals without recognizing them. It is thus incredibly important to identify one’s goals in order to meet those expectations.

There are two types of goals: short-term and long-term. Short-term goals can be achieved in a short period of time. For example, finishing a report by Friday. Long-term goals, on the other hand, can only be accomplished over a longer span of time. This could mean one’s goals for university and beyond.

High school students should start thinking about how to spend their time and not waste it. This can best be done by writing down a clear set of goals. Doing this will encourage focusing energy into action, given a known objective. Knowing the target makes it easier to hit it.

But what if a project is due over a week’s time? What is the best approach for accomplishing such work? Divide it into chunks. In this way, the work is incremental and can be done, portion by portion.

However, sometimes, the biggest struggle is to come up with the goal itself.  Students would typically set the goal to study for an upcoming test, but to “study for a test” is too broad of an objective. To make your goals more attainable, it is important to be specific. In this case, the goal would be more effective if it was focused on a specific portion of the syllabus to review.

The best way to come up with a goal is to follow the acronym SMART which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based; ensuring that your goals are all of these five things will help you set goals on a more realistic level and bring them within reach. Sophomore Li-Ann C. comments on setting goals, saying, “setting goals are very important to me. When it comes to actually setting them, it really depends on the situation and also what my expectations are of myself as a student.”

Ms. Capuccio, a high school guidance counselor, also expresses her thoughts regarding goal-setting: “Setting a goal is a great starting point to achieve a specific end result! It can help you organise your work and start planning short term steps to help you be successful in achieving whatever you aim for. Setting small steps can also help with motivation, as smaller steps are more achievable in a short amount of time.” She goes on to mention how “setting a goal isn’t a stagnant process; it is dynamic, and while the process of achieving your end goal is ever-changing, the end result may morph over time which is the best part of the process!”.

As boring as setting goals may seem, it truly is a way of helping students stay organized and focused when it comes to all the work and effort school requires. Goal-setting is a habit that will stay with students forever and help students achieve lifelong success.