If you’ve been following along with this goal-setting series, then you’ve already established what you’re trying to accomplish (step one), and how you’re going to know when you succeed (step two). We’re exactly in the middle of our series on goal-setting today, so let’s get down to it…
Step Three: The Dreaded Deadline
Do you prioritize your study time based on what is most important to learn? Or are you more likely to prioritize your study time based on what’s most like to be on the next exam? As you might expect, most students end up in the second category!
It’s no secret that people tend to be driven by the most urgent deadline on their schedule. Unfortunately, that often leads to others deciding what’s most important for us, instead of us taking control of our own lives. And “others” don’t usually have the same priorities, morals, or (you guessed it) goals that are important to us. So we never really make progress on the things in our lives that really matter.
That’s why you need to start setting your own deadlines for the things that are really important for you. Whether your goal is learning to think like a nurse, or mastering the material for your next exam, a deadline will give you the focus you need to prioritize the actions you’ll have to take to accomplish it.
Deadlines really aren’t that complicated…you simply need to decide when you want to reach your goal. Usually, that just means picking a date (i.e. end of the month), or a time frame (i.e. end of the semester).
Important Note: if you’re trying to learn the material for an exam next Friday, then don’t make your deadline on next Friday! Plan to learn the information you need by Wednesday instead. Always leave yourself some wiggle room in case things take longer than you think, or if something unexpected comes up. This is especially important if you’re new to setting goals in a particular area (like studying), because it will probably end up taking longer than you predicted to meet your goal. But trust me, you will get better at estimating realistic deadlines the more often that you practice setting them.
Now a Warning: Since you’re building “wiggle room” into your deadline, beware that you don’t intentionally plan on using that wiggle room! For example, choosing to watch TV on Tuesday night because you don’t feel like studying can be very tempting, but is definitely NOT a good reason to delay!
My next article email will cover Step Four in the Your Nursing Tutor Goal setting plan: A Method to avoid the Madness! You’ll learn how to lay-out a step-by-step plan that will help you decide if your deadline (and your goal!) is realistic and achievable.