Every college student regularly faces the temptation: whether to go out or to study. This is not very different from the temptations face by everyone, whether to work or to play. However, college students have a greater temptation to party than most people. They live with their friends, and there is always some fun activity going on at a college campus. Here are five ways college students can stay focused on their future goals. Using these techniques will help undergraduates hit the books, instead of the bars.
#1 – Write Them Down
Vague goals are much more difficult to focus on than specific goals. The best way to create a specific goal is to write it down. A commonly used acronym to help people with this is SMART, which was first coined by Paul J. Meyer.
Goals should be:
- Specific – this is the overall criteria; they need to be identified and concise.
- Measurable – people have to be able to measure their progress toward a goal, and to know when they have achieved it.
- Attainable – goals must be attainable, or else people will not be motivated to stay focused on them.
- Relevant – there must be a reason for the goal; they must serve a purpose.
- Timely – there must be a time-oriented aspect, even for future dreams; in other words, there has to be a deadline; this helps people stop procrastinating.
#2 – Post
Once goals are identified and written down, they should be posted in a visible place. Everyone has experienced discovering an old treasure they forgot about, because it was buried at the bottom of a drawer. If goals are not visible, they can easily be forgotten. In some cases, people are embarrassed about their dreams. If this is true, then the list of goals can be posted in a private place, but one that is seen daily. Perhaps on the inside of an armoire’s door would be a good location.
#3 – Recite Daily
Most college students will find this step silly and perhaps embarrassing, but it is immensely important. Reciting one’s goals to oneself daily helps one keep them in mind and focus on them. It is easy to lose track of future aspirations during the day. They become vague or escape people’s minds. To help keep one’s focus, they should be said out loud (not just in one’s head) three times each day.
#4 – Imagine Success
While writing down and saying one’s goals, they should be phrased positively. They should be said as if they are a certainty. “I hope to graduate,” or, “I want to graduate” permits failure. A better phrasing of the same aspiration would be, “I will graduate by [date] with a Bachelor’s degree in [major].” This goal meets all of the criteria of the SMART acronym, and “I will” does not allow one to fail. It will be true.
#5 – Tell Others
Once the above steps have been enacted, college students will be ready to tell their friends and peers about their goals. They will be able to identify the goals and assert them positively. Undoubtedly, friends will offer a rebuttal, “Aww, C’mon….” However, these strategies should provide the focus necessary to avoid the temptation and remain on track to achieve future goals. Eventually, friends will understand these are important and hold their determined friend accountable.
These five principles are simple steps. Every college student can easily enact them, and by doing so every college student can begin to achieve their future goals.