Time Management Tips

4 Golden Rules to Set Goals for Success

I, for one, can say that as my IB journey continues, it seems that the workload never stops increasing. As I tackle IAs, EE, CAS, Group 4, and all the other wonderful requirements of the program, I have found how important it is to set effective goals for myself that will ultimately help me graduate with maximum success. Here are my top four tips!

1. Small & Achievable

When you set goals that are too demanding, you’re most likely setting yourself up for failure. Big goals are often crushing & de-motivating. Instead, set small & achievable goals so that you remain focused! 

I personally use this tip when writing my IAs and EE. Even though writing “finish IA” seems to be a simple task on your daily to do list, you and I both know how much work goes into actually “finishing” the IA. Instead, I like to break it up into parts. For my chemistry IA, for example, I made each section (research question, hypothesis, background information, data analysis, evaluation, etc.) a separate task that I would dedicate a day or two to. That way, I was more inclined to work and more easily accomplished it in a timely manner. It is like a gift that keeps on giving! 

2. Don’t Seek Perfection

Achieving perfection is almost always impossible and disappointing. If one of your goals is to get a 45 on IB exams, let it be a good motivator. But do not let it upset you if you do not end up getting that score.

When you write out realistic goals, you are more likely to accomplish them and feel gratified. My philosophy is to always hope for the best and prepare for the worst. For example, a few weeks ago, I had my first Chemistry SL mock paper 1 and my goal was to get at least a 6/7 on it. I planned to study the entire weekend prior to my exam. However, the weekend rolled around and an unexpected circumstance took up most of my free time. I still managed to study for my mock, but not for as much as I had hoped. So, I changed my goal to achieve at least a 5/7 on the mock. I was still confident in my abilities but also understood that it wasn’t realistic to achieve my original goal of a 6/7. 

It is important to know your capabilities and know how far you can push yourself. Productivity Youtuber Rowena Tsai has a similar take on this idea, and this video of hers offers a great explanation 🙂

3. Enjoy!

Make sure your goals are fun and as enjoyable as they can be. Although writing an IA is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “fun” (I know it isn’t for me), finding ways to make your goals enjoyable will only lead to success. 

For example, I like to reward myself after completing a larger assignment, like an IA. So, I would set the following goal, “I will finish this section of my IA so that I can go get ice cream.” With a motivator, such as ice cream, in mind, I have found that it is easier to plow through the work and then enjoy the reward, of course. 

4. Find Your Why

Knowing your “why” is perhaps the most important part of creating goals. Why are you going to work hard this school year? Is it so that you can get into your dream school? Is it for the love of learning? Finding the purpose of your goals is key to staying determined throughout the year. But have no fear, this purpose can change with time. I know it did for me 🙂

When I was 14, I transferred schools to enroll in the IBDP for 11th and 12th grade. I knew that participating in the program at this school would grant me the opportunity to pursue a university career abroad. That was my “why”. Earlier this year, I watched a TED talk by American economist John Doerr about setting the right goals. It inspired me to reassess my purpose. Now, my “why” has become twofold: first, to make the most out of the resources and support I have been given in the IBDP; and second, to be able to best present myself as a qualified, well-rounded student to college admissions.   

So, ask yourself: “Why?”


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