Just getting through every day of the first semester may have felt like all you could handle, but now you can take a deep breath and look back at the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year, or if you haven’t done so yet, set those goals now. Going on an important journey without a map is not clever. Your goals are your map for your journey towards a qualification and, beyond that, a career. Set goals for more than just your studies. Time at university is also an opportunity to learn other life skills, to make friends, to set patterns for healthy living. Think of goals for test and exam results, participation in student life (societies/house committees), friends and family, exercise/sports, spiritual activities – everyone is different, with different areas of interest. Follow your heart, not only your head. Did you write down some goals earlier in the year? Look at them again. Have you achieved some or all of them? Are those goals still valid? Adapt them or start from scratch.

 Take a step back and consider.

How far into the future you need/want to plan.

What study, career and other objectives are most important to you

Whether there is flexibility for unexpected detours.

A goal needs to be SMART


 S Specific

- What exactly does the goal entail?

 M Measurable

- Does the goal have subsections, like the number of courses you need   to complete? Will you know when you have reached your goal?

 A Attainable

- What will it take to make your goal a reality? (Money, time, resources, etc.)

- Can you make it happen?

 R Relevant

- Do you really want to reach the goal?

- Why?

- Are you willing to do what it takes to reach it?

 T Time frame

- by when does it have to be reached?

Start with the long term: what do you want to have achieved by the time you leave university? Then think carefully about what that would mean in terms of the next three months, the next year, and so on.

Setting goals allows you to remain focused on the big picture, and to stay on course to get there. Check your goals regularly to ensure you are still progressing in the way you want to, but be flexible, because short-term goals sometimes need to change in order for you to achieve the long-term outcome you are striving for. If you follow a map, you may come to a place where the road is blocked by construction work. You will then have to find a different route, but that does not mean you are changing your destination. The same is true for striving towards a goal.Checking your goals regularly will help you recommit to them.


Have you ever watched a flock of geese flying across the open sky?9 Like experienced cyclists, they know the value of moving in formation. They fly in a huge V, each one supported by the slipstream (less resistant air) caused by the wings of his or her friend just in front. In formation they fly 71% further in any given time than an individual bird would have done. Now here’s a question for you: are your friends flying in the same direction and towards the same destination as you are? Do they share your goals, your values, your priorities? If they do, you will build up collective momentum and drive, which will take all of you further with less stress and less effort.

If, on the other hand, your goals lie in different directions, you will find yourself constantly battling against the flow of their energy. You will tire yourself out physically and emotionally, and you may never reach your goal, instead being pulled off course by the power of the group.


This is where theory becomes reality. Having identified people in your field who are just as focused on success as you are, find or start a serious study group. You can use your free time on holiday to talk to some of them, finding out if they’re interested and how you can make it work.