Grad School Goal-Setting

Photo by @gradlifemcgill instagrammer @aleksbud

Photo by @gradlifemcgill instagrammer @aleksbud

The new year is almost upon us, and that means it’s almost time to create new year’s resolutions to bring with us into the beginning of January and the following 12 months. Many of us create these goals – exercise more, eat healthier, be happier, submit your thesis – but what is the difference between goals which are achieved and those which are not?

When setting goals, it’s important to set SMART goals. That not only means that the goals should be “intelligent” in the classic sense, but should also follow the acronym: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Following these guidelines will help you formulate and follow a specific plan, and get you on track to making lifestyle or other necessary changes to accomplish your new year’s resolutions.

Goals can be short- or long-term, and as large or small as you’d like. If they’re larger or more long-term, it may be best to break these goals down into smaller parts. For example, if you want to submit your thesis in August, you may want to have your data collection done by February, data processing done by April, and writing done by June. Each time point is now a new goal in itself, and all of the involved parties (you, your supervisor, your committee) can be aware of the entire timeline and process. It is also a great feeling to achieve these smaller and more foundational goals along the way to have a sense of accomplishment and keep you motivated toward the bigger picture!

Personally, I like to set goals for specific areas of my life. One personal, one professional, and one health-oriented (I’m biased toward health-related goals as a Kinesiology graduate student). This year, I want to learn how to disconnect (personal), submit my manuscript for publishing (professional), and run my first half-marathon (health-oriented). Make your resolutions specific to your life and your process – everyone has a different experience and will want to achieve different things this year.

What do you want to achieve this year?

I hope 2017 is filled with joy, and I wish you nothing but the best in the upcoming year. All the best with your new year’s resolutions!

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