Goal Setting Is Fundamental for Future Success

Setting Reasonable Goals Encourages Students to Persevere and Teaches Responsibility


Charlotte Clarke

Students who consciously remind themselves of their goals are more likely to achieve them.

Accomplishing one’s goals, whether they are as lofty as becoming a rocket scientist or as rudimentary as completing a trip to the grocery store, evokes pride.

 A sense of accomplishment provides satisfaction. Altogether, satisfaction with one’s self begets a happier life. Thus, setting goals truly does precede self-fulfillment. 

In terms of study strategies, most would agree that jotting down notes from a presentation increases one’s ability to remember the key points from a lesson. Conceptually, it makes sense that articulating goals should produce a similar outcome: success. Goals should serve as a foundation for success, but do not need to delineate every moment of a person’s life. 

At some point in one’s education, they are likely to have heard the phrase SMART goals (this acronym refers to words: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound). Altogether, SMART goals aim to outline a strategic plan for pursuing dreams; however, this strategy was also developed to encourage people to undertake goals that are within their reach. That is not to say that goals should not be challenging, as the SMART method was designed to dissect formidable goals into pieces, so they are presented in a less daunting manner to the goal-seeker. Professor Robert S. Rubin—a champion of SMART—has indicated that SMARTER may be an even more precise acronym, with the additional two letters representing the words evaluated and reviewed (according to a member of the Better U Project, LLC).

However, formulating goals via SMART may seem, well, formulaic. Thus, simply typing up goals for one’s self in their phone’s notes may be plenty sufficient. The point is to hold oneself accountable. However, accountability varies from person to person based on individual values. Psychologists agree that there are two types of goal orientations: Mastery Goal Orientation (Learning Orientation) and Performance Goal Orientation (Ego Orientation). 

Prestigious institutions, such as Stanford University and Duke University, attest to the notion that mastery-oriented students are the ideal students, as they attach more value to learning and challenging themselves, as opposed to amassing an impeccable transcript. An attractive transcript would appeal much more to ego-oriented students, many of whom center their learning around outperforming others. The self-criticism that is common to ego-oriented students can be detrimental to their mental well-being. 

However, the type of goal-oriented student one is largely contingent upon the learning environment that they create for themselves. First off, studying subjects that interest one’s self promotes perseverance, as people are more likely to complete a task that interests them. Obviously, there are always lessons that are more challenging or tiresome than others, so focusing on test strategy may produce more favorable results than delving blindly into content. Finally, set attainable goals for one’s self. Surrendering to a seemingly insurmountable goal is easy and sets a precedent of quitting, so students should evaluate their abilities honestly—without comparing their own capabilities to those of others—when deciding what score they wish to aim for on their next test. 

Overall, vision boards and ten year plans are overkill for many—but not all—in goal setting. However, everyone should have goals for themselves. Simply envisioning a future and mapping out the path there in one’s mind may be enough.

Ultimately, goals hold people accountable for their dreams and pave the way for the manifestation of such dreams.