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3 Goal-Setting Exercises to Try this School Term (that actually work!)

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How many times have you started a new school term with strong goals in mind, only to reach the end and realize you’d either:

  • Completely forgotten about them.
  • Given up on them halfway through.
  • Realised they weren’t the right goal to focus on in the first place.

We’ve definitely been there! So it got us thinking maybe we need to shake up our whole approach to setting our goals.

And in doing so, we found some pretty cool goal-setting exercises that work!

3 Great Goal-Setting Exercises that ACTUALLY Work

How we approach achieving our goals should be as unique as the goals themselves. It needs to be personal and adaptable for us and our needs.

These three exercises are highly adaptable and well worth giving a shot:

1.Backward Goal Setting

Backward Goal Setting is all about switching up your perspective on what you need to do to actually achieve your goal. If you’ve got a goal you feel stuck on or fail to reach – this is a superb tool to help you finally tick it off!

To get started with Backward Goal Setting, follow these easy steps:

  1. Grab a fresh piece of paper or a notebook.
  2. Write the goal you want to achieve at the top of your paper/notebook.
  3. Your instinct will be to think about the first step to goal success – instead, think about the LAST step that will help you achieve this goal – the one right before you achieve it.
  4. Work backward from that step, plotting all the actions and indicators leading to goal achievement.

By reversing the process, you’ll get a fresh perspective on what’s needed to achieve the goal once and for all – you might discover some actions you’d previously missed.

2. The ‘One Year vs. One Month From Now’ Exercise

This is a great exercise to try if you’ve got a bigger goal you know you need to be actively working on from month to month. It can help you plan your time and ensure you’re on track – so when the next new year rolls around, you won’t feel like you let things slip.

To get started with the ‘One Year vs. One Month From Now exercise, you’ll need to:

  1. Get a calendar or 12 sheets of paper (to represent each month) plus one extra piece of paper.
  2. On the extra piece of paper, write your long-term goal.
  3. Break that goal down into 12 SMART, achievable steps and assign each step to the other 12 pieces of paper (one for each month).
  4. Use the rest of the space on the paper to plan how you will achieve the step, thinking about what resources you might need, who can help you, etc.

This exercise helps you realize what your big goal will require from you and plan out how you will make it happen across the year. Essentially, you’re thinking about where you want to be one year from now and what you need to make happen one month from now to help you get there.

3. Make a Goal Treasure Map

The Goal Treasure Map exercise uses basic visualization techniques to help you formulate and realize the goals you want to achieve this school term.

Visualization helps you build a picture of what you want certain aspects of your life to look like, such as school, your career, and your relationships.

To use Goal Treasure Mapping, you’ll need to:

  • Visualize the goal (or goals) you want to achieve – what this looks and feels like.
  • Write out your goal(s) in detail, and spend as much time as you want here thinking over the small and big parts of what achieving your goal will mean to you.
  • Once you have written this all down, it’s time to get creative! Grab your art supplies, a stack of magazines, or whatever else you want to use to create your treasure map.
  • At the top of your map, create a visual representation of what achieving your goal looks like – this is the treasure you’re working towards.
  • Now start thinking about all the steps required from where you’re at now to achieving that ultimate goal.
  • Begin the above process again for each step you can identify and work backward from there, creating a visual manifestation on your map as you go.
  • Align your images so that you can see how they connect.

When finished, keep your Goal Treasure Map somewhere you can see it every day as a consistent reminder of what you’re working towards.

Which One Will You Try?

These exercises are just a starting point. Some might work better than others for you, so it’s worth trying a few and getting a feel for what you respond to the most.

Which one do you think might work for you?

And don’t forget, if getting ahead with your career plans is a big goal for you this year, there’s everything you need to put your best foot forward right here at Explore Careers.

Why not check out our employer partners and see where you could get started!


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