How To: Set Goals for the Academic Year (and beyond!)

As a list junkie, I love setting goals. Writing down what I hope to accomplish so that I’m able to organize the craziness in my brain brings me a lot of joy. For whatever reason, when it comes to writing down my goals I can never remember what I wanted to do.

Part of this is my goals are always super vague. I want to do things like ‘work on my blog more’ or ‘hang out with my friends more’. While those are totally things I can try to accomplish, what do they really mean?

Maybe I’m just a terrible goal setter, and that’s okay, but I have to work hard to figure out goals and to-do lists. So hard in fact, I’ve created a system. A simple one (because I’m lazy) but a system all the same.

how to set goals for the academic year


ONE – start vague 

When creating lists, I always know what I want to start with. I want to work on my blog, I want to keep up my grades, I want to do a lot of things. Just knowing where I want to start is an important step so start vague! I’m a big fan of word vomit. Grab a pen and paper and just start jotting down everything that comes to mind.

the start of my idea vomit

TWO – categorize

Once you vaguely know what you want to do, you can see where you want to focus your goals. If you notice that ‘do better in school’ or ‘improve my note taking system’ are on your list, great! Create a category for these two things like ‘academics’ and rewrite them underneath.

*TIP* After step one, jot down a bunch of categories as you think of them. Don’t make too many, I like to stick with “Academic Life”, “Blogging Life”, “Personal Life”, and “Physical Life”. I find most things can be put under one of these four categories for me.

THREE – why?

Write out why you want to do something. Do you want to maintain your grades as just a personal goal or to maintain a scholarship? Give yourself some motivation for these tasks so that when you look back on your list you can remember why it was so important to you in the first place.

*TIP* I like to combine step two and three and write down why as I categorize.

breaking it down into categories + the why

FOUR – how?

How are you going to achieve these goals? When looking at your list, figure out how you’re going to maintain your grades. Are you going to study for an hour every morning? Or will you do a weekly review every Saturday? I find that working on the why and how, often helps you find more specific goals.


FIVE – create a new list

As you jotted down your how, things probably got a little messy on your first list and you may have found some smaller goals to go along with something larger. Now, I like to make my final list. Whether you make it on my phone or on another a piece of paper, make sure it’s somewhere you’ll actually remember to look at it. All of this work was for nothing if you don’t actually remember what your goals were. Be sure to include your why.


Academic Life
  • Maintain my GPA
  • Visit office hours 2x monthly
  • Finish assignments with time to review
  • Weekly roundup of learned information (Fridays)
  • Develop a better note taking system
Blogging life
  • Create a blog business plan
  • Create an instagram theme
  • Comment on 10 blogs a week
Personal life
  • Explore my town more (here’s a great little post about why!)
  • Limit my Netflix consumption
  • Listen to the radio more often
  • Follow the news daily
  • Get more involved in my sorority
    • Ask one of my sisters how
Physical fitness
  • Work out a minimum 6 hours a week
  • Go to spin class on Saturday morning
  • Complete one month of Blogilates


What are some of YOUR goals for the new academic year?

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