NURSING SCHOOL SUCCESS:
How to Set and Achieve Great Goals
Date Published: January 14, 2021
You’ve made your New Year’s resolutions and set your goals for 2022. (If you haven’t, check out our ideas for nursing student resolutions.) Now we’re a few weeks into the new year, and it’s time to really start working toward them. But where do you begin?
Working toward achieving your ambitions can sometimes feel overwhelming, but with the right outlook and process, you can set yourself up for success. Below are some goal-setting strategies to assist in your journey of setting up and achieving your objectives.
Set SMART goals
The SMART acronym is a goal-setting tool you can use to help ensure your goals are realistic and well-developed. For a goal to be great, it should meet the 5 SMART requirements:
Specific. One of the biggest mistakes people make when setting their resolutions is being too vague. The goals that you set should be specific enough for you to feel truly motivated to achieve them.
Example: Instead of saying, “I’m going to get in shape this year,” say, “I am going to exercise 3 times a week.”
Measurable. Another big driver of goal motivation is ensuring you have can measure your progress. Determine how you’ll track your progress.
Example: If your goal is to participate more during class, you could measure your progress by noting how often you raise your hand to answer questions, how many times you contribute to discussion boards, and by keeping track of your attendance.
Achievable. This one may seem obvious, but it’s important to set goals you can realistically attain. Consider constraints that could interfere, such as financial factors or free time. A good goal should push you outside your comfort zone a little but remain possible.
Example: You may wish you could study all the time for the NCLEX, but your life as a busy nursing student likely won’t allow for that. So, keep this goal achievable by limiting it within a specific timeframe, such as, “I want to study my NCLEX prep for 5 hours per week.”
Relevant. Remember that you are making these resolutions for yourself – not your teachers, not your parents, not your friends. For YOU. Your goal must be relevant to your current situation, and it must be something you really want to achieve.
Example: Ask yourself:
Time bound. Finally, a good goal should have a timeline. Being able to set time constraints — even for a long-term goal — keeps you focused. Plus, it can make it easier for you to prioritize the actions you need to take to achieve your ambitions.
Example: Ask yourself where you would like to be 6 weeks from now? How about 6 months? One year?
Once you’ve set a SMART goal, consider a few more tips to help you achieve it:
Share your goals with your inner circle
Having a support system is key when it comes to achieving your resolutions. Not only can your inner circle provide you with encouragement, but those individuals can hold you accountable for doing what you say you will. That aspect can be immensely helpful on days when you just want to give up. Share your goals — and your plans for achieving them — with friends, family, roommates, classmates, or anyone else who can help you stay motivated.
Break it down
Even with the SMART goal guidelines, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. When it comes to setting deadlines for your time-bound goals, make sure you break them down into manageable chunks and tasks. Don’t forget to think about the time of year and what other goals or life events might be happening simultaneously. You don’t want to pile too many deadlines on top of each other. Doing so can make achieving any of them that much harder.
Learn from failure
With any good, challenging goal comes the chance that you will fall short. Failure is a healthy and sometimes even expected part of the process, but it’s certainly not the end of the line. If you are unsuccessful at achieving a goal, it’s okay to be upset, but don’t let it weigh you down. Take time to reflect on your plan and actions and see if you can identify ways to improve for next time.
Remember, you don’t have to wait for the next new year to roll around to set new goals for yourself. The time is always right to work toward achieving your ambitions.
For more tips and expert advice in achieving your goals in 2022, check out our student blog.