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EP 12: Setting Goals, Sticking To Them, & The Importance of Consistency

Happy New Year and Welcome to Episode 12! We kicked off the year by discussing how to set goals, how to stick to them, and the importance of remaining consistent. We know this can be a tough area for many students, so our Host & Top Writer Cath Anne provided practical advice. We also provided examples of how it’s important to set very small goals that lead up to your bigger goals, and how to utilize the SMART method.

“The Homework Help Show” is our new weekly live show where we teach, assist, and offer valuable insights on different topics related to students’ academic and personal lives. Want your questions answered? Ask your questions on social media using the hashtag #askHHG


Cath Anne: [00:00:05] I don’t know if people saw my Instagram stories or not. But, this week we’re talking about how to set goals and stick to them. It is one thing to set goals, but it’s another thing to follow through and manage to follow through on them. I thought that would be a good way to kick off the new year and the new school year.

Cath Anne: [00:00:29] (To Instagram Viewer): Happy New Year to you too, Kaur.

Cath Anne: [00:00:30] It looks like I’m not looking at the Instagram camera. We do film these and put them on YouTube. So, I have both my computer and my Instagram going at the same time. I’ll try to look at both. But, it might look like I’m not quite looking in the camera because I just want to make sure that I’m looking in the main camera so that we can record them for YouTube.

Cath Anne: [00:01:01] First of all, I wanted to remind everyone we used to be called The Homework Help Learning Studio, which was a very long name. At first, we liked it and then we kept mulling over and trying to figure out a new name. The new name of this show is The Homework Help Show, a lot easier to remember and a lot easier to say.

Cath Anne: [00:01:25] Welcome to The Homework Help Show. For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Cath Anne and I am your weekly host. I am a top writer and the host of this show for Homework Help Global. This week I wanted to jump in and talk about setting goals and sticking to them as, I already mentioned. When we come back to school after the holidays, we are often feeling rejuvenated and refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of a new semester. As time rolls on we might find that we’re not being as strict with maintaining our schedule or our commitment to our New Year’s goals.

Cath Anne: [00:02:07] Sometimes these goals turn out to be more challenging than we anticipated. Especially if you’re a student and you’re trying to navigate setting goals and working and all of the challenges that come along with being a student, you might realize that some of your classes and some of the demands in life become a bit daunting so you’re no longer able to follow through on your goals. This week we want to talk about how you actually set these goals and stick to them.

Cath Anne: [00:02:46] Of course everyone has amazing goals for their lives. Do you guys have any goals for the New Year or New Year’s resolutions?

Instagram Viewer: [00:03:26] To be a better version of myself.

Cath Anne: [00:03:27] (To Instagram Viewer): Coach Kaur, that sounds like a good one. That’s kind of along the line same lines as my goal for the new year. Even if you’re not a person who is a lover of resolutions or thinks it’s problematic to set new goals for the New Year it can still be a time where we sit back and we kind of reset and refocus on what our priorities are.

Instagram Viewer: [00:04:03] Would love to travel. Been too busy studying and working all these years.

Cath Anne: [00:04:07] So, Kaur, you know what might use you as an example through this because it’s awesome that you want to travel but I’d really like to see you do that. In order to follow through you have to set really specific goals which we will get into a little bit later. So, stay tuned. I’ll give you some tips about that. Let’s narrow that goal down and get a little more specific when you want to do it. Where do you want to go? How long do you want to stay and what do you need to get there?

Cath Anne: [00:04:42] All right, for example, like Coach Kaur is saying I want to be a better version of myself, but I’m also a writer so as one of my goals as a writer I would really love to write a book. I wanted to give this example, because it’s a really big goal. It’s a pretty huge thing to put into the universe. How am I going to attain that goal? Yes, I have been sporadically working on my writing and doing lots of reading about writing, but how do I end up at that goal of writing a book.

Cath Anne: [00:05:25] How we choose to spend our time and organize our time determines how effective we will be at ultimately attaining our goals. While we have dedicated some time sporadically to different goals we might feel daunted by that huge goal. For me it’s writing a book even though we do spend time learning about writing and doing writing. I write on my blog. I write for Homework Help. I do different freelance jobs online, but I still haven’t met that goal of writing a book. You know what? To be honest, I haven’t even started it. So, how do I get to that lofty goal of writing a book?

Cath Anne: [00:06:16] One of the reasons why we failed to achieve those big goals is because of this mindset. When we do set a huge goal for ourselves, sometimes it seems so lofty and so big that we feel daunted and we don’t end up being able to get there. For example, if I do want to eventually write a book or write a novel I do have to practice writing more regularly on my blog.

Cath Anne: [00:06:40] I have to practice writing every day whether it’s in a notebook to get myself in the habit of writing. These types of goals are called intermediate goals which can help us get on our way to attaining our bigger goals. They help us to build the skills and to develop the knowledge in order to be able to get to those bigger goals.

Cath Anne: [00:07:04] This is one of the main reasons that we don’t attain our goals. We don’t feel that we have the skills to get there and the goals just seem so large that we don’t end up achieving them, unfortunately.

Cath Anne: [00:07:19] When we set these smaller goals it can be a good way to work towards the larger ones, although sometimes it might seem like we’re sidetracking ourselves. Often the mentality is that when we say, “I want to write a book”, but I’m focusing more on my blog and I’m focusing on developing my craft in different ways I’m not actually focusing on writing that book. Sometimes that can be seen as problematic because I’m not working on that goal. But, ultimately when I do work on these smaller goals along the way that is going to help me achieve the bigger goal, because I’m going to feel more confident. I’m going to have more skills. I’m going to be more dedicated and practiced in my craft of writing. Of course, that’s just an example. So, like I said these are called intermediate goals. In order to get to the bigger goal, we have to take these little steps along the way.

Cath Anne: [00:08:20] (To Instagram Viewer): Happy New Year The Neighborly Consultant.

Cath Anne: [00:08:33] When we work on honing our craft on a consistent basis we ultimately continue to develop the skills that we need to work towards our larger goal. There are certainly those who are just masters of their craft. They were just born to be a writer or born to be a pianist or born to be a Ph.D. You might consider them like a lone genius type of person who can manage to crank out a novel in like a year. For most of us that is not the reality. We do have to spend our time honing our skills and developing skills as we as we move towards the bigger goals. For the rest of us it is actually beneficial to veer off from the ultimate goal towards the smaller goals that help us build the skills.

Cath Anne: [00:09:37] If you’re like me and you do find yourself veering off and not completely concentrating on that end goal then you are fine. You’re in luck; you’re like most of us because most of us need that time to be able to develop our skills. We aren’t just those lone genius types who can just sit down and crank out a novel or sit down and play an amazing piece on the piano. We are the ones who we need to take time to develop the skills and if these are the things that we want to do in our lives then we will put time into them.

Cath Anne: [00:10:15] Another important thing about doing these little steps along the way is that it can also allow us to get some feedback on what we’re doing. I’m just going to bring it back to my example. When I do my writing and I put it out into the world it allows me to get feedback on it. So, it allows people to comment on it and it allows me to meet editors who can help me work on my writing. It allows you to have a string of content that you can reflect back on and feel good about yourself feel that you have achieved something, and you can see kind of your development as you move along.

Cath Anne: [00:11:20] I want to talk a little bit about one tangible approach to working towards larger goals. Restrict the time limit that you’re using to complete your goals. So, for example, make smaller roles within a timeframe like a week. Say to yourself, if your goal is to write a book. What I might do instead to start off is to challenge myself to write one blog post a week. That’s a small goal that’s completely doable. Then it also leaves me open to getting feedback and creating a string of content along the way, which can help me to reflect on my progress. If you want to do that, if you want to work towards a larger goal, it’s a really good idea to limit your time because when you have a lot of time it can become a bit daunting and feel like you’re not completely focused. When you limit your time to say a week, then you’re more capable of achieving those goals.

Cath Anne: [00:12:44] Think about it this way, when you begin a class the professor does not give you the final exam on the first day. Maybe there might be some philosophical professors who might try to do that for fun or to prove a point. But, of course, by attending all your classes, by studying, by reading all the content provided by the professor that is when you will be prepared for the test.

Cath Anne: [00:13:10] This is an example of how skills develop over time and how you develop a knowledge base over time and that is why professors encourage you to participate in class. In this way you will automatically be prepared for the final destination which is the final exam and hopefully you’ll get an A on that. That’s naturally how we learn things.

Cath Anne: [00:13:37] So, for example, if your goal was to learn a new language, download something like Rosetta Stone and try to do it every day. Work 10 minutes a day on learning a new language. Challenge yourself to do that. Or, even for half an hour every day for a week and then maybe progress and move it up the next week.

Cath Anne: [00:14:04] If you want to learn how to cook, find a recipe that you want and cook it for your family tonight. Set a deadline of tonight to cook a family meal or for your partner or food or just for yourself. Find an easy recipe with very few ingredients and go from there. Then once you develop a basis and develop some confidence, next week try a harder recipe. Begin with something easy. Develop your confidence and skills and move on to something more challenging.

Cath Anne: [00:14:52] A good way to work towards a larger goal is to take these smaller steps because when we’re working on smaller tasks it can allow us to understand the bumps along the way. There are going to be bumps along the way. When we do encounter these, we are more readily able to address them rather than if we’re in the middle of working towards writing our novel. Then we might not be as prepared as we would be if we had developed some skill.

Instagram Viewer: [00:15:29] Can we multitask on goals or is sticking to one goal at a time better?

Cath Anne: [00:15:37] (To Instagram Viewer): I think it depends on the person, but I think that sticking to one goal at a time is most appropriate because your focus will just be on that one goal.

Instagram Viewer: [00:15:52] I think that focusing on one goal at a time is appropriate because otherwise you can tend to get overwhelmed.

Cath Anne: [00:16:00] (To Instagram Viewer): What do you think Coach Kaur? I think you have some expertise in this area, but that would kind of be my sense is that it’s better to focus on one goal. Limit your goals and be very specific about your goals. Work on them separately, but you can have multiple goals at once.

Cath Anne: [00:16:48] We’re going to get into the SMART method a little bit later. So, that might tease out some of what you’re what you’re asking. Certainly, we’re all going to have multiple goals. We’re not just going to have one goal in our lives. But, I guess if you’re working towards writing and a novel or something quite lofty you might want to put more focus on the larger goals. That would be kind of my sense.

Cath Anne: [00:17:39] As we progress towards our larger goals and we develop skills along the way, then we’re able to address bumps in the road as they come along and we’re not kind of blindsided when we are working on our bigger goals.

Cath Anne: [00:17:54] This is another direction that I wanted to go with this. It’s also really important to write down and document your goals. When we document them we’re able to sit back, reflect on them and make smaller goals to work towards the larger ones.

Cath Anne: [00:18:20] If you have a larger goal, like, say you want to get a 4.0 GPA. How are you going to get there? You’re going to ask yourself about positive and possible ways to get to that goal. So, you might you might start studying early in the semester you might. Get tutoring. You might. Do some extra reading and attend some extra classes. Those would all be smaller goals that ultimately lead up to the larger goal. Those would be like considered intermediate goals and then hopefully they would lead to you getting a 4.0 GPA.

Cath Anne: [00:19:04] So, I guess Coach Kaur, to go back to your question. Obviously, you’re going to be studying and doing tutoring. They’re going to be simultaneous, so I guess the intermediate goals are things that you can work on simultaneously where the loftier goals, I wouldn’t have more than you know three or four especially within a year timeframe because then I can just become daunting and overwhelming. I would recommend you know if you’re setting goals of a four your year, choose two or three reasonable goals.

Cath Anne: [00:19:44] So, Kaur, you wanted to do some traveling. So, maybe that’s one of your big goals for the year, but maybe you also have one or two other goals Setting max three goals for the year. I think is really reasonable because you don’t want to overwhelm yourself and make it feel like you’re not going to be able to achieve any of those goals.

Cath Anne: [00:20:20] Be specific and measure your goals. Also, when we write down our goals we’re putting them out into the universe and we are then able to manifest them in our lives. When we write down our goals we should build in time to check in with ourselves and make sure that we are still working towards those goals. It also allows us to write down our intermediate goals. We might write down and this is our big goal up here which is to write a novel to travel to get a4.0 GPA. What are those smaller pieces that are going to help us get to that end goal? When we write that down it can be a physical thing you can even put it in your office in front of you.

Instagram Viewer: [00:21:41] Can you please tell us how to make a good SMART goal?

Cath Anne: [00:21:45] Well, you know what. That is my next topic. Just give me a couple more minutes. Yes, just one more thing and then we’ll move on to how to write good SMART goals.

Cath Anne: [00:22:04] When we do write them down then we can also create deadlines for ourselves which are really important in goal formation because when you do write something down you want to make sure that you’re setting a deadline for yourself. If you don’t then you’re not going to necessarily work toward it because it’s not going to seem as urgent. It’s really important that you do set a deadline.

Cath Anne: [00:22:32] For example, going back to the recipe idea. You want to learn how to cook. That’s your big lofty goal. How are you going to get there? If you really want to work towards that goal, this week you need to find a recipe and you need to figure out how to cook it and even set a date for it and then you can check it off the list. Then the next week, set a date for it. So that’s just an example, but it’s really helpful to set dates and times and even have someone to hold you accountable to following through on those goals. When they’re just kind of pie in the sky ideas we’re not necessarily going to follow through on them because we haven’t set a deadline for ourselves.

Cath Anne: [00:23:25] Some of these ideas are going to continue as they talk about this next portion. I wanted to talk to you about the SMART method for goal writing. I’m just going to type it here in the comments, so you guys can see what I mean. I’m sure that some of you are familiar with this, but it’s an acronym so it’s SMART, the smart method for goal writing. Is anyone familiar with?

Instagram Viewer: [00:24:19] I am familiar with it.

Cath Anne: [00:24:20] Coach Kaur, I knew you would be. Do you know what the letters stand for? It’s not a quiz.

Cath Anne: [00:25:14] (To Instagram Viewer): Very close. You said, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Actually, I’m going to give you a pass for that because attainable is definitely a good one to have in there as well.

Cath Anne: [00:25:34] It is actually appropriate, but I think we’ll keep attainable in there as well because I think that’s really important to make sure that we are making attainable goals. This is a really good way to remember how to formulate goals. The SMART method: Specific, Measurable, Appropriate, Realistic and Timely.

Cath Anne: [00:26:04] So let’s do the breakdown. Specific: when you’re making goals you really want them to be specific. Sometimes we have goals. and this is, Kaur, why I was saying to you about yes you would like to travel, but where do you want travel and when you want to travel and how are you going to get there? We want to make sure that our goals are really specific because when we are putting goals out there that are vague we might not necessarily follow through on them. For example, when we set goals like being happy, getting rich, or having a good time they are kind of vague and they’re not really specific. We want to focus on more concrete aims. Some goals may be getting married, reducing your credit card payments, taking regular vacations. These are much more specific, and they are also much more focused.

Cath Anne: [00:27:20] If I was going to say, “I really want to be happy”, well what does that mean? Does that mean meditating every day? Does that mean doing yoga and exercise every day? Does that mean going on trips? It’s vague. So, we want to make sure that we’re making really specific goals so that they are attainable. As you mentioned Coach Kaur. Most people find they’re frustrated because there are just too many things to do and not necessarily enough time. We know that we can’t get more time, but we can specify fewer goals, so as I was mentioning before when we just have too many goals going on in our lives, we feel a bit overwhelmed and we feel like we don’t have enough time. When we narrow our goals down to be really specific and we make sure that there aren’t too many of them, then things become a lot easier and we can actually become more productive.

Cath Anne: [00:28:26] The letter S stands for not just specificity but also substantial. When we’re making goals, we want to make sure that our goals are really concrete and that they’re worthy of pursuit. We all know our time is really valuable especially when you’re a student and you have multiple things on the go. You might decide that cleaning up your desk is a goal, but it’s not necessarily the sort of lifetime accomplishment that you would want to be praised for. So, maybe one of your goals is to be more cleanly and cleaning your desk is one of those intermediate goals. That may also contribute to your overall goal of being a more organized person. We’re really trying to narrow down the specifics so that we can set goals for ourselves that are in the end attainable.

Cath Anne: [00:29:33] Next, the M in the SMART acronym stands for measurable. The second criterion a goal should meet is measurability. State your goal in a way that an outside person could measure it objectively. For instance, will we will reduce my credit card debt by 500 dollars or we will take two vacations this year or I will stop smoking in two months. I don’t smoke but these are just examples.

Cath Anne: [00:30:05] (To Instagram Viewer): So, Kaur, as you were saying, I’m going to pick on you again. You were saying that you want to travel this year so that’s why I was asking you for more specifics around where are you going to go. So, if you don’t mind, do you have any places in mind that you might want to go? In terms of measurability we want to make sure that when we set a goal we attain it. That’s what measurability means, so what are those things that what are the intermediate steps we’re taking to lead up to that goal. Do we actually attain that goal?

Instagram Viewer: [00:30:55] I really want to go to Amsterdam and Germany.

Cath Anne: [00:30:58] OK. So those are two really measurable goals because they’re really specific as we mentioned. I would say they’re substantial because those are two really amazing places to visit. So how do we measure that? We measure that by determining whether you end up going there or not. Also, what are the intermediate steps that you need to get there? I think, for example, you might want to think about: how much money do you need to save to get there? What period of time or period of year do you want to look at? Do you need to get time off from work or school? Do you know how much is it going to cost how much money do you need to save to get there?

Cath Anne: [00:31:48] We’re really looking at whether these goals are accessible. Are they realistic for you? When you start to do that actual breakdown, then you realize, OK maybe I might not be able to save that amount of money or maybe that goal is really doable. Rather than it just being a dream then you can work towards making it a reality.

Cath Anne: [00:32:19] What are those steps that you need to get there? Even assigning a time period to it.

Instagram Viewer: [00:32:28] I have an uncle who lives in Germany so accommodation wouldn’t be a problem. Time of work and money is more of the legwork.

Cath Anne: [00:32:39] We can do this right here. I’ve actually been trained in this process called PATH. It actually helps people with goal planning exercises like this. Maybe we’ll just do a little mini PATH with you right now, Kaur, if you don’t mind.

Cath Anne: [00:32:56] Going to Germany and Amsterdam. Those are really great goals. We’re going to actually work backwards, so that’s your goal. Now think about. So what month is it now? January. We’re going to work backwards so when you ultimately like to go to Germany.

Cath Anne: [00:33:26] Would you say within a year? Maybe like January next year?

Cath Anne: [00:33:40] July 2018. So, you want to go this year. So you want to go in seven months. Let’s think about. Three months from July. What are the steps? Where do you want to be? How much money do you want to have saved to get to Germany? Do you want to have asked for the time off of work to get to Germany?

Cath Anne: [00:34:23] When you’re when you’re thinking about July 2018, you want to think about the steps. Looking into flights. How much money is it going to cost? Then three months out, how much money do you have saved? Then another three months? How much money do you want to have saved? You want to think about: March 2018 you want to have saved such and such amount towards you trip. March, April, May, June, you want to have how much money saved? You want to go month by month. This is a short time period. Look at the costs and look at kind of the barriers that you’re going to face in getting there. Then go from there trying to work backwards. I wish we had more time in that we were in person because it would be a lot better we could talk this through.

Instagram Viewer: [00:35:37] 2000 dollars.

Cath Anne: [00:35:49] Think about how much you want to have saved three months from July. How much you want to save in a month. You would start with next month; how much would you like to have saved; then three months and then in July.

Cath Anne: [00:36:05] Set those small intermediate goals for yourself. Always assign a time limit to it.

Cath Anne: [00:36:15] Then in terms of asking for time off work you want to figure out when you have to do that. So, do you want to do it three months in advance? Then set a time for yourself. Write it in your agenda. Okay, I’m going to ask work for two weeks off so that I can go to Germany and I’m going to ask them in March of 2018.

Cath Anne: [00:36:40] So that’s just kind of a really quick rundown. Sorry can do it more thoroughly.

Cath Anne: [00:36:49] I think I will move on with the kind of next tenants of this, but I hope that was semi-helpful just setting those little goals and really assigning time to them and holding yourself to it.

Cath Anne: [00:37:06] Okay good. I’m glad that was helpful. Kind of spur of the moment.

Cath Anne: [00:37:22] It can be a really helpful technique to kind of work backwards from your goals. I find. Then you kind of think about what you need to do to.

Cath Anne: [00:37:40] A is appropriate. We want to think about whether our goals are positive and possible. You don’t want your goals to be negative and you don’t also want them to be too lofty. You want them to be something that you think that you can do. If I wanted to get my law degree, for example, that’s a long-term goal potentially, but I’m not going to be able to apply to law school this year and go next year because I don’t have the money to do that right now. That’s not really an attainable goal for me right now. We want to make sure that we’re sending ourselves up for success and not setting ourselves up for failure.

Cath Anne: [00:38:55] We want to make sure that our goals that we’re setting are in our area of power or responsibility. Don’t try to work on someone else’s goals. Even though it might be tempting to try to work on a partner’s goals or you know even your family’s goals, make sure you’re focusing on yourself and things that you can do to move forward in your life. Appropriate goals also relate to your personal style.

Cath Anne: [00:39:21] What are YOU capable of accomplishing, given your background, your skills, your training, or your physical limitations? We want to make sure that we are doing things that we are actually capable of doing and if not, what are the things we need to be able to attain those goals. Someone that is 5 -foot-tall most likely is not going to try for the NBA. That’s just not very realistic. They’re probably not going to get on the team. There might be someone who is really awesome who is able to do that. We want to make sure that we’re playing to our strengths that’s really important.

Cath Anne: [00:40:09] However, that is not to say that we shouldn’t extend ourselves. It is definitely possible to go on to go beyond what we interpret as our limits and do things that we’ve never done before. So, push yourself past your limits, but also work with what you have. Work with your strengths and your skills.

Cath Anne: [00:40:43] Goals should definitely be a bit of a stretch because we want to always keep pushing ourselves and moving forward. A goal may be achievable within three months, but it might not be quite realistic given the other constraints we’re facing. So, for example, if I want to write my novel, but I am working a full-time job and I have a family to care for and I’m facing some financial constraints, it might not be realistic for me to take on writing a novel this year. So we want to make sure that we’re making our goals realistic based on our circumstances, of course

[00:41:32] The last letter in the acronym is timely. Make sure, as I was saying, what a deadline to your goals. This Saturday, the end of the month, the end of the year, your 15th birthday, your fiftieth birthday, whatever. Start with the end in mind as we were discussing earlier. When do you want to have the goal achieved and what will the final success look like? When do you want it to happen? When we set those deadlines for ourselves.

[00:42:03] Then we are able to work towards them and then one more thing I wanted to add to this acronym is the letter P which stands for passion. You want to make sure that you’re working toward your goals with this sense of passion. Pursue your goals with passion and love and work toward making your life the one you want it to be.

[00:42:29] One last thing I think a really good way to formulate our goals is to work backwards.

[00:42:36] Think big dream, about what you really want out of life and narrow your goals down from there. What do you want your life to look like? What are the positive and possible ways that you are able to get there?

[00:42:52] That is it for this week. If you do want to access any of this content at a later date we’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google Plus, Medium. Now we are also on SoundCloud, Anchor, iTunes Apple Podcast and Google Play Music so you can just type in Homework Help Global and you can find us. I can’t wait to talk to you guys next week. Have a great week and good luck setting your goals for 2018.

[00:44:51] Talk to you soon.