Steps to stay motivated for the rest of the term

The importance of setting achievable goals during crunch time

Setting goals is the perfect way to get ahead of finals stress.

The second half of the academic term is always stressful. The strain of final essays, projects, and tests can start to weigh on us, giving us no choice but to buckle down and work harder than ever.

This makes it the perfect time to set goals for the rest of the semester. Making goals can help us stay motivated and be our best selves, even during this busy time.  

I propose we all take a moment to breathe, review our upcoming commitments, and start working toward our goals. Here are a few suggestions for staying in control and staying healthy during the busy last few weeks of the fall term: 

Spend time with those you love

Before you start planning out the future, take a moment to rest and reflect. It’s possible to find a new outlook on the past, and a positive attitude, by taking time away from life’s stresses. Spend some time with friends or family to recharge. 

These people we cherish can remind us of our worth and reaffirm the notion that life is meaningful beyond test scores.

For example, I work nonstop during the week, like many Queen’s students do. But I always take time every two to three weeks to spend time with my friends and do something fun. This is what I’ve found I need to rest and gain perspective on my studies and lifestyle choices. 

When I study, I’m disciplined and focused, but when it’s time to recharge, my friends and I celebrate accordingly. We talk, unwind, and enjoy each other’s company. You should make sure you make time for this as well. 

Take inventory

Once you’ve taken a moment to recharge, begin to reflect on the semester so far. What lessons can you learn from the past two months? Where did you succeed and fail? What can you learn from your mistakes?  

It’s important to review your past behaviors (like the tendency to procrastinate or to overestimate your preparation) and their outcomes (like poor test scores) to improve your work ethic and make better lifestyle choices in the future.

It’s possible that in the past, you haven’t taken enough care of your physical or mental health. Or maybe you haven’t been disciplined enough in your work habits.

Even though your efforts may be well-intentioned, they could be ineffective. In that case, you need to determine how to better spend your time.

Regardless of what your reflections reveal, you need to ask these questions to begin improving yourself.

Make a good plan

Not all plans are created equal. Cramming for an exam while sleep-deprived and running on a diet of energy drinks and pizza is a bad plan. You’ll exhaust your body, ruin your mood, and you still may perform poorly.

To make a good plan, you must first identify a situation’s best possible outcome. You also have to honestly consider your strengths, weaknesses, and work ethic to plot a feasible map to get from where you are now to where you want to be.

I find it useful to write explicit goals out on paper, and then to break these goals down into small steps. I then plot these small steps out in an online calendar and keep a to-do list during the week. Every Sunday, I reevaluate my progress on my plans and adjust my week plans accordingly.

We all have room for improvement as people, and I believe the meaning of life is to always pursue a better version of ourselves. Having a strong personalized plan is a great way to get started on this. 

Get moving

Once you’ve rested, reflected, and made a plan, take charge and pursue your goals. 

As Queen’s students, let’s pledge to take better care of ourselves, make fewer compromises, and strive to be the best versions of ourselves for the remainder of the fall term.

The key to a meaningful life starts with the initiative to pursue a better future, so let’s get moving.

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