Step 1 - Reflect on last year
Use the summer months to reflect on your past year – what went well, what do you wish had gone better? Think about the habits you formed and relied upon in your past school year. Did they serve you well? Did they allow you to be as successful as you know you are capable of being? Or, perhaps, did you find that there were several areas where better study habits might have made your life a bit easier, and your marks a bit higher?
Once you have pinpointed the areas you felt strong in, and the areas you need improvement in, make a plan. What will you do next year to improve? What habits do you want to keep, or use more frequently? How will you keep yourself accountable, and not fall back into bad habits?
Set up an early September meeting with your guidance counsellor. Go over this reflection process with them – ask them for their thoughts, and if they have any tips or strategies to help you in making this year your most successful one yet. Ask if you can have regular check-ins with them, they are an invaluable resource in not only providing strategies but also keeping you honest along the way.
Step 2 - Make a plan
What do you want this year to look like for you? Do you want to improve your overall average? Do you want to become more active in extracurriculars? Do you want to get your assignments in earlier? Do you want to work on your community service hours? Whatever the goal is, and likely you will have more than one, write it down. Post it in a place you look at regularly – your mirror, on your laptop, on your binder – anywhere you will be reminded of it often. Keep this goal in mind so that whenever you are making decisions, they are being made with this goal in mind. Keep in mind the SMART Goal making plan – make sure your goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
Once you have a goal, and a plan for how to achieve that goal, make sure you have someone who knows what your goal is, and with whom you have set up regular check-ins. This might be a parent, a sibling, a friend, a coach or your guidance counsellor – whoever it is, make sure they will keep you accountable!
Step 3 - Do it!
When September finally rolls around, don’t let yourself fall into bad habits! Use your supports – family members, friends, teachers and your counsellor. Let your support network know about your goals, and ask them to keep you honest. If your goal is to get your assignments submitted in a more timely manner – tell your teachers on the first day, ask them to help – they would love to! If you would like to get more of your volunteer hours, meet with your guidance counsellor early and ask for help in finding opportunities that suit your interests and availability.
Step 4 - Review, Reflect and Revise
This leads us to perhaps the most important part of goal setting for the new school year – never be afraid to change your goal! A plan may seem excellent in August, but when put into action in September, you may realize that it isn’t actually serving you as well as you had hoped. Don’t be afraid to recalculate, and make alterations as necessary to allow you to be as successful as you want to be. Use your guidance counsellor and other trusted supports to help you in making these adjustments as necessary. Your plan for success in the new school year is not set in stone – constantly be reviewing what your goal is, and why you set that goal, reflect on if your strategies or actions are working, and revise based on your progress throughout the year.