One of the greatest parts of my job as an academic advisor is helping nursing students reach their goals. In my experience, the busy adult learners I work with often have fantastic goals in mind, but sometimes common mistakes can throw the most well-intentioned students off their path.
I wrote last month about how to stay focused on a goal. This month, let’s focus on deciding what goal you want to achieve. Understanding how to set goals and to define a path to reach them is an indispensable part of being a student. However, developing those skills is easier said than done. Research shows only 9% of people reach their New Year’s resolutions! While New Year’s goals can often be their own ball of wax, understanding some of the common mistakes other people make can help you make an achievable plan for your dreams no matter the time of year.
Mistake #1: Making a Goal Too General
When setting goals, it may seem like a good idea to go broad. Saying “I want to earn better grades,” or “I want to be a better nurse,” are commendable objectives, but they are often hard to reach. Why? They are too general. Be as specific as possible, including establishing a timeframe for getting to your goal.
Mistake #2: Skipping the "Why"
Now that you have the “what” defined, it may seem like the next obvious step is to outline how you will reach your goal. However, avoiding thinking about why you are doing something will make it harder to stick with your plan when things get hard (and at some point, they will get hard). Finding your “why” can give you an internal compass, making persisting toward and reaching your goal even more meaningful.
Mistake #3: Thinking About Your Goal
Of course thinking about your goal is helpful, but if you never put that thought to paper or a screen, then it will never mean as much. Writing down a goal, drawing it or finding a picture that is representative of what you are trying to achieve will help make it real. Make sure whatever way you capture your goal, you put it somewhere you look every day. That could be on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator door or as the wallpaper on your mobile phone or computer. Seeing your goal each day will be a reminder of what you are working to achieve.
Mistake #4: Trying to Do It All At Once
As a motivated person, you can fall into the trap of wanting to achieve your goal as quickly as possible. But, truly meaningful goals take time to reach. Instead of going for the gusto to get it all done at the same time, think about your goal and then break it into smaller chunks. Then break it down again. Approaching your goal as a series of smaller changes will not only keep you motivated as you reach each of your mini goals, but it can also help make it easier to reach bigger goals.
Mistake #5: Planning Only for Success
Reaching your goals takes optimism but ignoring the possibility of failing can set you back. Remember that there will be bumps in the road and you may falter once – or many times – while you go after your goals. That’s ok. Having a backup plan can help a small detour from becoming a full-blown derailment.
Mistake #6: Forgetting About Your Advisor
I am always here to help! I want to see you succeed in your RN-BSN program. Remember I am just a phone call or email away and can offer more advice, guidance or moral support anytime you find yourself stuck.