set goals

Importance and Benefits of Setting Goals for Students

6 mins read


  • Goals and what they mean to students
  • Why students must set goals
  • Importance and benefits of goals
  • The do’s and don’ts while setting goals.
  • How to set goals

Whether you are in school, college or pursuing your career, setting goals forms an integral part to the path of success.

From the face of it, goal setting teaches you time management and organisation skills. These skills are important life skills that must be learnt in order to be successful at whatever you do.

The Meaning of A Goal

children playing football

The first thing that may come to your mind when we use the term goal, is a game of football.

Here, the sport involves two opposing teams trying to kick the ball into a designated space between two poles, typically connected with a net. This is the goal post.

So, even in a game of football, the goal post is the aim of the two teams. From this definition of a goal in football we can derive the meaning of a goal in life.

It can be defined as an aim or ambition or a desire to achieve a certain result.

Why Should You Set Goals?

It is scientifically proven that setting goals has positive outcomes.  According to a research based article published in Psychology Today and written by Marllyn Price Mitchell, a PhD scholar- Goal setting is linked to higher achievement.

Why Goal Setting Is Important for Students?

1. Goal Setting Means Future Ready

When you set goals, it means you are preparing yourself for the future by planning your present. Being future ready is always an advantage. It allows you to prepare for any untoward incidents that may occur in your path to succeed

2. Time Management

Finger holding hanging clock

Time management skills for students is one of the basic skills expected out of students today. It is the ability to efficiently complete tasks, in the most effective manner, within a specific period of time.

The importance of setting goals for students lies in the fact that it helps you manage your time efficiently.

3. Acts as An Incentive

Right from our childhood days, we or our caregivers have been setting goals for us without our knowledge.

For example, while being fed as an infant, you would have heard your parents mentioning that if you eat your vegetables you can go out to play.

Here, as an infant, our goal was to go out and play. So, we naturally finished our vegetables and went out to play. Similarly, setting goals is like an incentive.

We want to finish today’s tasks so that we can achieve the goals we have set for tomorrow.

4. Setting Goals Acts as A Scale to Measure Your Progress


Another reason why goal setting is important in life is it acts as a measure of your progress. That is, it tells you what you are doing and how good you are at it. It is like a self monitoring feedback form to yourself.

When you set a goal, along the course of your academic pursuance, you may feel that you are straying away from your goal. This is the time you need to refocus and remind yourself of your goals in life.

5. Keeps You Determined and Committed

One of the benefits of goal setting for students is that it keeps you focused. Every student knows that the fruit of your efforts today will be borne later.

Knowing that you will benefit from your efforts, keeps you determined and committed to the goal.,

6. Trains You to Overcome Obstacles

When you have a goal set in mind and you are determined to achieve it, then you will achieve it, whatever obstacles may be strewn on your path.

This is one of the most important benefits of effective goal setting. We all know that the future can never be predicted.

The path to success will definitely come with its share of challenges. The true test is to overcome these challenges and focus on the goal in hand.

7. Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses


Setting goals allows you to identify your strengths and weaknesses. While trying to achieve your goal, you will be able to figure out what you are weak at.

Knowing this can help you focus on improving what you are weak at, in order to bring it to a level where you can no longer call yourself weak.

8. Goals Improves Your Self Esteem

You may ask how goals can improve your self esteem? Believe it or not, setting goals is directly related to your self esteem.

Self esteem or self respect is that pride or dignity that you have within yourself. Setting goals boosts your self confidence and motivates you to achieve even what may seem to be impossible at that point.

With all the brimming self confidence and determination, your self esteem and self regard automatically get a boost.

9. Provides a Pre-Determined Path

The importance of setting goals for students is that it sets a determined path to tread on. Though the path may come with its own set of challenges, the very fact that you have a path itself gives you an upper hand.

The Goal Setting Theory for Students

Now that we know the importance of setting goals for students, we should know the theory or science behind it.

In 1981, George T Doran, first used the word S.M.A.R.T as a guideline to setting goals.

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable – specify who will do it.
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Short Term Long Term Goals

There are two types of goals:

  • Short Term Goals
  • Long Term Goals

Short term goals are goals which must be achieved within a short period of time. The period could range from weeks to a few months.

Long term goals are goals which usually have a long time period. For example a career goal is an example of a long term goal for students

The Do’s and Dont’s While Setting Goals.

1. Write Down Your Goals

Person writing on a book

Writing down goals is one of the best ways of trying to achieve it. Mark Murphy, best selling author of the book “Hard Goals HARD Goals: The Secret to Getting From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be”, has mentioned that “Vividly describing your goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success, and people who very vividly describe or picture their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals than people who don’t. That’s a pretty big difference in goal achievement just from writing your goals on a piece of paper”.

It has been scientifically proven that writing down your goals is the most effective method of trying to achieve your goals.

In the same article, the author goes on to mention the two ways in which writing down goals helps to achieve them, that is through external storage and encoding.

External storage is easy to explain: you’re storing the information contained in your goal in a location (e.g. a piece of paper) that is very easy to access and review at any time.

You could post that paper in your office, on your refrigerator, etc. It doesn’t take a neuroscientist to know you will remember something much better if you’re staring at a visual cue (aka reminder) every single day.

Encoding is the biological process by which the things we perceive travel to our brain’s hippocampus where they’re analyzed.

From there, decisions are made about what gets stored in our long-term memory and, in turn, what gets discarded. Writing improves that encoding process.

In other words, when you write it down it has a much greater chance of being remembered.

2. Don’t Be Too Rigid.. Goals May Change

There are innumerable benefits of setting goals. However, at the same time it is important that you are not too rigid.

Based on life’s experience and the ever changing world, goals are sometimes subject to change. Let’s take a career goal for example.

From your school days you have had the vision of pursuing an engineering degree in computers. With the passage of time and the advent of newer technology, more branches of science are introduced.

Now technology is nowhere what it was a few years ago. Computer science has now branched out into several bifurcations like Robotics and Artificial intelligence.

Here, you may now want to pursue a degree in artificial intelligence instead of computer science engineering. Don’t be rigid if your interests change over the years.

Be open to change. Your underlying goal of pursuing a career that interests you is more important.

3. Realistic Goals

Make sure you set realistic goals. Setting goals which are impossible to achieve might deter you. Set achievable goals and believe you can do it and work towards your goal.

At the same time, set a goal that requires hard work and perseverance. Setting easy goals is like accepting something that is far below your actual potential.

How to Set Goals?

set goals written on a board

Setting goals entirely depends on your interests. It depends more on how you want to see yourself a few years from now. Here are some steps you could follow while setting goals

  • Think of something you want to do. It could be in the near future or something in the far future. It could be a career goal or a goal to learn a new language or learn a new instrument.
  • Write it down, where it can be seen visibly.
  • Tell people around you about your goals. This gives you some encouragement.
  • Plan the steps to achieve your goal. Breaking down the steps into tiny bits, makes it more achievable.
  • Tick off your steps as you achieve them
  • Once you achieve your goal don’t forget to celebrate your achievement.


With a goal in hand and a plan to achieve it, there is nothing that can stop you. Though the path may be ridden with challenges and obstacles, you should be able to get up, dust yourself and continue your journey to achieve your goal. Dream big, set  goals and take action.

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