3 Methods for Setting Goals

This post is part of a month-long series to help you start 2018 on the right foot. Throughout January, visit the Varsity Tutors blog for advice, tips, and tricks on how to reignite your passion for learning this winter.

January is often viewed as a month for change, and most change starts with setting goals—that is, verbalizing or writing down what you hope to achieve. Goal-setting can be a daunting process; you may not know where to begin or how to frame the objectives you have in mind. Many people give up on their New Year’s resolutions because they set unrealistic standards for themselves, but this issue can be fixed by finding techniques to help you set goals. Methods for goal-setting can include BSQ, SMART, and OGTM.

Eager to set goals for 2018, but not sure where to begin? Keep reading to learn three methods for setting goals in the new year:

Goal-setting method #1: BSQ

“BSQ” stands for big, small, and quick. Begin this goal-setting method by “thinking big.” What do you hope to achieve in the coming months? Summarize your goal in several words or a sentence—for example, “Land an internship that’s related to my major.” Don’t worry if your goal seems unreachable now. The idea is to start big and to then move on to the specific steps that will make your goal attainable.

The next step in BSQ is to “act small.” That is, enumerate each action you will take to reach your goal—for instance, to craft a well-written cover letter or to attend a networking event at your college. It’s best to be as detailed as possible with this step; vague courses of action will not give you a clear idea of how to reach your goal.  

Finally, “move quick.” This is the step where you establish deadlines for yourself. Develop a separate deadline for each action you have brainstormed in the previous step. You may decide you need to craft a well-written cover letter by mid-January and attend a networking event sometime in February. Deadlines are essential when goal-setting because they hold you accountable.

[RELATED: The Importance of Self-Reflection: How to End the Year on a Positive Note]

Goal-setting method #2: SMART

SMART is an acronym that explains the characteristics that contribute to effective goals:

  • Specific: Your goal should be precise. Rather than setting the general goal to read more, decide how often and how much you would like to read.

  • Measurable: Your goal’s failure or success can be calculated in some way. For example, you can measure your progress by the number of pages you have read in a day or week, or by the amount of time you have spent reading in a day or week.

  • Agreed upon: In the event that other parties are involved, everyone needs to agree on the goal. If you are part of a book club, all members should agree on the reading material or pace. Otherwise, the club may dissolve due to differences of opinion.

  • Realistic: Your goal must be attainable. For instance, you should allot yourself weeks to read a dense novel, not days. Be honest about what your schedule and brain can handle, and don’t set unrealistic goals.

  • Time-based: Your goal should have a deadline. Give yourself neither too much nor too little time to accomplish your goal. A goal without a deadline will almost certainly be postponed.  

[RELATED: Time Management Tips for Students]

Goal-setting method #3: OGTM

The OGTM (or objectives, goals, tactics, and metrics) method for goal-setting starts broad and becomes specific. You begin by creating an objective for yourself—for example, to improve in English class. The OGTM method defines an objective as a generalized, long-term hope that may be accomplished in a few months or even a few years.

Next, streamline your objective into a goal (or a more tangible target). This may be learning five new vocabulary words per week.

Tactics, much like the “act small” step in BSQ, refer to the techniques that enable you to reach your objective. To improve your English grade, you can download a vocabulary flashcard app for your phone or write in a journal every morning.

“Metrics,” much like “measurable” from the SMART acronym, refers to the methodology for assessing a goal’s success. This step relies on numbers (such as percentages) to tell a story about the extent to which the objective was achieved.  

Students should notice that, although BSQ, SMART, and OGTM contain different letters, they embody similar ideals. No matter which goal-setting framework you choose in 2018, make sure your goals are specific, measurable, and attainable. With a researched plan, anything is possible!

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