How to Set Goals for Success in the IB DP

Written by: Rashi S.

The Significance of Goal Setting 

Goal setting is an essential skill that students should master, not only for the IB DP but because it is beneficial in the long run as well (e.g., for university, the work world, and so on). Goal setting will guide your focus and give you a better sense of time management. For instance, it will make you reflect on whether you are spending your time, effort, and in some cases, money, on the right things. It will push you to ask yourself: “Will this action of mine contribute to the goal I want to achieve/Will it help me become the person I would like to be in the future?). Furthermore, it will help you measure your progress and boost your confidence, consequently, aiding you sustain the momentum of your life.  

 Redefining “Goal Setting” 

Everyone wants to write a best-selling book, be a billionaire, or win an Olympic gold medal. Thus, having goals is, in fact, the easy part. The real challenge is your willingness to accept the sacrifices required to achieve your goal. Therefore, instead of asking yourself, “What do I want to achieve/What does success look like to me?” ask yourself “What kind of pain do I want?” Everyone wants to achieve an Olympic gold medal; a few of us want to train like an Olympian.  

 Know about SMART Goals 

  • Specific: real numbers and deadlines 
  • Measurable: trackable goal so you can measure progress 
  • Attainable: must be within your scope 
  • Relevant: aligns with your long-term objective 
  • Time-Bound: goal must have a deadline 

For more information about how to set SMART Goals, click here. 

 Goal Setting Steps 

  1. Eliminate some of your other goals (focus on one goal at a time).
  2. Write down the date of when you are goal setting.
  3. Think about the result you want to see.
  4. Write down your goal accordingly.
  5. Ensure that it meets the SMART Goal Criteria; if not, edit them so that they do.
  6. Create an action plan (write down each individual step that you need to take to achieve that goal and set deadlines for it).
  7. Act on the action plan (make a checklist to break down the individual steps and start completing the tasks, if that helps).
  8. Keep track of your progress.
  9. Assess your goal.
  10. Once you have reached the goal, continue the practice of goal setting! 

 Tips for Goal Setting 

Align your Environment with your Goals: 

Although most of us have the freedom to make a wide range of choices at any given moment, we often make decisions based on the environment we find ourselves in. For example, if you leave your phone on your desk while you are studying, then checking your phone every few minutes becomes the default decision. On the other hand, if you place your phone in another room during your study session, although you possess the capability of getting up, going into the room your phone is in, and then using it, you are unlikely to do so, because you are surrounded by easier alternatives. In this case, not checking your phone is the default decision, the easy decision. Thus, ensure that your environment is organized in a manner that motivates you to achieve your goals. 

Visual Cues (The Paper Clip Strategy): 

Have a jar full of anyone small objects (marbles, paper clips, etc.) and put it into the second jar each day once you complete the individual step to achieve your goal. For instance, I currently hold a DELF B2 in French and would like to sit for the DALF C1 exam soon. Thus, to improve my French, my goal is to listen to a French podcast every day. When I finish listening to the podcast on that day, I put a small paper ball in another jar from the one that is full. This strategy helps create a visual trigger that can motivate you to perform a habit with more consistency.  

Conclusively, goal setting is a crucial skill for effective organization, staying motivated, and time and stress management. It will enable you to accomplish the things you care about and are passionate about within a reasonable period. Overall, goal setting will allow you to broaden your horizon and therefore we recommend you commence doing it today and follow through!  

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