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With the start of a new year and a new semester, many college students are likely to set some sort of goals to strive for over the next couple of months. Here are some ways to make these goals realistic, and some examples of simple goals that can really change your life.

Common goals for a new year/semester

Chances are, if you ask a handful of people what their goals are for this year, you’ll hear a few of these as responses:

  • Exercise more
  • Cook more
  • Save money
  • Spend more time with family
  • Be less stressed
  • Get organized
  • Read more

…you get the gist. These goals are nice, and it would be cool to feel improvement in your life by working toward them. However, this might be difficult with these goals because they aren’t very specific.

Adding Details to your goals

You probably learned how to set a goal at some point in your life – whether it be in middle school, for a job, or for an organization you are in. I have probably learned about S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based) Goals five times since starting college, and I have spoken to others about S.M.A.R.T. Goals at least twice now. I won’t bore you with a lecture about every element that a ~proper goal~ should have, but they should be at least a little detailed.

Rather than saying, “My goal is to exercise more,” you could say, “My goal is to exercise twice a week.” That way it is something that you can keep better track of. Being able to keep track of your progress will help you feel better about your achievements.

Evaluate how your goals will impact your life

Having the goal of “being less stressed” is certainly something that I would like to achieve. After adding details to this goal, it could become, “being less stressed by taking an hour to myself each day.” Again, this is something I could keep track of.

But how will “being less stressed by taking an hour to myself each day” impact my life? Obviously, it will make me less stressed, but by being less stressed, my overall mental health will likely improve. I personally would be able to focus on assignments more and spend more quality time with friends and family, rather than always thinking about the next thing I have to do. It would lead to me probably being a calmer and happier person.

The same can be said if you have the goal of cooking at home three times a week. If you used to eat out a lot, cooking at home can help help you save money, make healthier choices, and improve on a new skill – cooking!

Take it one day at a time

Don’t set goals that are extremely challenging for you. If I were to set a goal to work out for two hours every day, that would be a pretty big challenge, and I would probably end up disappointed with the results.

Take it slow. It’s okay to set small goals at first and build toward the larger ones. Maybe you are reading this and you really would like to be at a place in your life where you work out for two hours every day (if that’s the case, kudos to you), but you haven’t worked out in months. Start by trying to work out once or twice a week, and work your way up to it.

Reaching your goals may take a while, but if it is something that you have decided you want for your life, it’s worth it!

Rachel is a junior at Youngstown State University, majoring in Marketing with a minor in Advertising & PR. In addition to being one of the Campus Correspondents for her school's Her Campus chapter, she is a sister of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and a Campus Trendsetter. She loves writing, hanging out with friends and family, and Star Wars.
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