The second chapter of the Academic Success Formula is written by Ashley
Mulcahy, a Tutor Doctor franchisee from Orange County, California, who
runs an education empire working with more than 100 tutors in 20 cities.
Throughout the chapter, Ashley discusses the importance of setting goals
and how keeping them in sight at all times can be extremely effective
when it comes to productivity, motivation, self-regulation and performance.
Author Stephen Covey believes that all things are created twice. First,
we create things in our mind, and it’s then they can start to become
a physical reality. The same notion applies to many other aspects of our
lives, especially when it comes to setting goals. If we don’t have
an end target in mind, it’s actually extremely tricky to determine
the path we need to take to succeed. Imagining where you’d like
to be later in life gives you a distinctive end goal that you can always
be working towards. Once we start using the future image as a reference
we can begin to create a ‘blueprint’ for our lives.
In fact, setting goals are much more important than you may first think.
We live our day-to-day lives believing that life just happens ‘to’
us, and that luck is the main factor in play when it comes to achieving
success. We quickly think that others have it easier because they have
more luck, when in reality this is a complete myth. For example, if we
see another student graduate with the highest marks, many parents would
think “Why can’t my child be like that?” We too easily
assume that someone has ‘good genes’ or are ‘naturally
smart’, without actually thinking about what it took for them to
achieve their goals. Late nights studying and years of academic diligence
is the reality behind this particular student achieving their success-
not luck. Once we start to realise that we create our own future and every
action is our choice, we can start to utilise goals in our everyday lives.
When starting to set goals, it may seem like an easy task, however, there
are many things that need to be considered. Firstly, goals should be specific,
rather than complex or abstract. For example, ‘Getting all A grades
’ wouldn’t be considered an
end goal, but part of the process in achieving something greater. Instead the question
should be ‘what are you working towards?’ From here students
can work backwards, carefully mapping out the steps and seeing exactly
what is required to achieve their goal. If your student said ‘I
want to be a Doctor’, getting top marks would be vital, but understanding
that these results are just part of the process and not the final achievement
Students who don’t have goals are usually easy to spot. You may hear
them say ‘I hate school’ or ‘what’s the point?’
resulting in them turning towards instant gratification. For example,
instead of studying for a test, they would rather hang out with friends
or watch TV. The issue being they only see the here and now, and without
a long-term vision, they see studying as useless, especially as academic
success isn’t instantaneous. This illustrates the true power of
having an end vision as it gives students purpose and motivation.
The key to setting great long-term goals is using the right techniques.
Having a visual representation of what you want to achieve is a great
way to get started. Think about what you really want for yourself and
what your ideal life looks like- including but not limited to relationships,
finance, career, travel, home and anything else related to personal growth.
Once you start to have site of your goals, imagining yourself achieving
them or creating a vision board will serve as a great visual reminder
and constantly give you purpose.
Writing down clear and measurable goals is another important step in the
process and will help turn your vision of an ideal future into a reality.
Studies have even shown that we’re more likely to achieve our goals
when we write them down.
Following on from using the right techniques, it’s also important
to set goals effectively. Here’s some things to keep in mind.
Goals that include specific performance standards are going to be much
more effective. In fact, having measurable targets to aim for improves
self-regulation and boosts self-efficacy as progress can actually be monitored.
Instead of “I’ll try my best” say “I’d like
to get a B.”
Often, it’s better to set short-term, manageable tasks that actively
work towards your distant long-term goal, rather than it being your only
focus. Proximal goals are not only much easier to achieve, they strengthen
your belief that you’ll be able to achieve your goals and result
in better self-regulation.
Even though the difficulty of goals doesn’t directly affect performance,
it’s still an important point to consider. Having overly easy goals
don’t motivate people, the same way people aren’t motivated
towards impossible goals. In fact, choosing goals that are moderately
difficult seem to have the best effects on motivation and self-regulated
performance. That’s why it’s crucial to set realistic goals
that you believe you have the skills to achieve.
Personal Mission Statement
Writing out a personal mission statement is a great way to tie your vision
and defined goals together. Doing this will help you reflect on your character
and look at your inner principles and core values. It should be something
you constantly refer back to and be the basis for making daily decisions
and important life choices.
Rewards are a fantastic motivator, so planning in advance to treat yourself
once you have achieved something can help you stay on the path to success.
Do this by providing yourself with small incentives while you are working
towards your bigger goal. For example, if you want to achieve a C in your
English test, you could give yourself a small reward after each study
session. Having something to look forward will not only drastically increase
motivation levels but will help you keep going if it starts getting really tough.
What’s truly astonishing is just how important setting goals are
in every aspect of our lives. Just remember- you’re never too young
to start! The earlier we start setting goals, the sooner we can get on
the path to success and actively participate in our own future! After
all, when we achieve our goals, we become more effective people.