Setting Goals

Why Set Goals?

Setting goals for yourself is a great way to achieve what you want.  These can be big, long-term goals like what you’d like for your future or smaller short-term goals like completing a project at school or to finish a book you are struggling with.

Setting goals gives you the long-term plan and short-term motivation to achieve stuff and will help you to organise your time and resources. Most people who are successful have set goals to achieve their dreams; this includes world leaders, athletes, business people, scientists and a lot of amazing people. 

Remember, not a lot of success happens by accident.  Have your dreams and start to plan and work towards them.  



First consider what you want to achieve, and then commit to it. SMART is a great way of achieving a goal because it helps lay out all the steps and makes it clearer. SMART is what’s called an acronym, the letters stand for something and that’s Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.



What exactly do I want to achieve? 

Good goals are clearly defined: 




With whom?

Why do I want to reach this goal?



How will you know when you’ve achieved it?

You’ll need to be able to track your progress.



How will your goal be achieved?

List the individual steps or tasks you need to take.



Why is it important to you?



When do you want to achieve your goal?

Set your target date and work towards it


A good SMART goal will answer all these questions:

Specific: What is it I want to accomplish?

Measurable: How do I know I achieved my goal?

Achievable: Is it realistic?

Relevant: Why is it important to me?

Time-bound: What is the deadline?


Getting good at setting SMART goals can take a bit of practice so stick with it and you’ll find it works!

Watch an amazing video on goal-setting below (or click here to watch it later – “How to achieve your most ambitious goals”).  Another video to check out sometime is “A complete guide to goal setting”.

Download a good SMART worksheet example you can use below.

Colour Code Your Timetable

It can be helpful to colour-code your timetable by subject.

This can make it easier to see when your classes fall during the week. 

Take this timetable:


It can be a lot clearer when you fill in your subjects using different colours:


Now we can see what we have:


That makes a lot of classes – 42 in a week!

It’s a lot easier to spot when the next maths or English class is though and when you might have a double or even a spare class.

You can colour code a lot of things; like notes, exam schedules, homework or revision plans.  It’s a great way to organise, check out this YouTube video on how to colour code like a pro

Timetable Examples

This is an example of a typical school timetable:


It might look a bit confusing at first but this is how you’d read it:

On Monday at 09.00: First years in Form 3 have History in Prefab One with teacher Linda Stephens


On Monday at 09.40: First years in Form 3 have Maths in Room 8 with teacher Liam Halsey


It goes on:

On Monday at 10.20: First years in Form 3 have French in Computer Room 1 with teacher Anne Finlay

On Monday at 11.00: Everyone has their 15-minute break

On Monday at 11.15: First years in Form 3 have Business Studies in Computer Room 1 with teacher Mary McManus

On Monday at 11.55: First years in Form 3 have a double class of Technical Drawing in the Tech Room with teacher John Gilbert

On Monday at 13.15: Everyone has their 45-minute lunch break

On Monday at 14.00: First years in Form 3 have English in Room 11 with teacher Bernie Ryan

On Monday at 14.40: First years in Form 3 stay in Room 11 for Irish class with teacher Mary English

On Monday at 14.40: First years in Form 3 stay in Room 11 for Irish class with teacher Mary English

On Monday at 15.20 First years in Form 3 have their last class, Science in Lab Room 2 with teacher Frank Ryan.

On Monday at 16.00 everyone’s makes their way home unless you have extracurricular activities on campus.


Have another here look at the full timetable:


Hopefully it’s beginning to make a bit more sense.  

Classes are 4o minutes long each and you finish at 4.00pm every day Monday to Thursday and at 1.15pm on Friday.  Nice!


Don’t Put Things Off Until Later

Don’t keep putting stuff off. If you do, you’ll soon run out of time to get everything done. By planning your work into manageable chunks and sticking to the plan, you’ll find yourself more on top of things – this will help you feel much more relaxed about your workload.

Know Your Limits

If you find your to-do list is getting too long, it may be that you have too much on. It can be easy to get involved in more activities than you can manage, especially if your friends want you to join them. Remember, it’s okay to say “no.” Knowing your limits and sticking to them will go a long way in keeping your commitments manageable.

Bring Work With You

If you have a test to revise for or a project to get done, bring along some work wherever you go. You can use some free time at lunch to study, or read a book while on the bus. Instead of reaching for your phone to check messages, use your time wisely and catch up on homework. Just a few minutes here and there will quickly add up, freeing up your time for other things later.

Make To-Do List

To-do lists are great. Make a list each day of what you need to get done, starting with the most important things. As the day progresses you can tick the items off your list as you get them done – this can be really satisfying! If you don’t complete every item on your list, don’t get upset. Simply add it to the next day’s to-do list – do get it done as soon as you can though, as you won’t want to drag these things on for too long.

Use a diary or a calendar

Use your school journal diary or a calendar app on your phone to help you stay organised. Be sure to include your homework, any project work, tests, activities and hobbies. This will give you a clearer picture of the time you have to do your work.

It may help to have a weekly calendar in the kitchen or on the fridge, so everyone can see what you’re doing. Weekly family meetings are a great way of seeing what everyone’s plans are, and can help avoid any clashes.

Tips for Good Communication


Everyone thinks that they’re a good listener, but that’s not always true. Good listening takes concentration, and the good news is that it’s a skill you can master. Teachers will expect you to be paying attention. Concentrate on what’s being communicated and make eye contact with people when in conversation – this will also help you remember what was said later on.

Ask questions

If you’re not sure of something, just ask for help or for a further explanation. Remember: there’s no such thing as a stupid question if you don’t know the answer! Stick your hand up – you can bet you’re not the only one who doesn’t know. You may be the only one brave enough to ask.


Assertive communication means standing up for your needs and beliefs, without behaving passively or aggressively. It’s a good communication style, and definitely one to practise.

It would include things like:

Listening to others without interrupting
Having an appropriate speaking volume
Having a steady tone of voice
Having confident body language
Keeping eye contact
Clearly stating your needs or point of view in a calm manner

Think about what you want to say. Know what you can get across clearly, and come up with specific words and sentences you can use. This will help you stay calm if you feel you might get nervous.

Express your thoughts and feeling calmly

It’s not always easy, but being aggressive, sarcastic or giving the silent treatment are never the best way of making a point. Recognise your emotions and express them in a calm or a factual manner. People won’t necessarily know how you feel, so just tell them. You might be surprised by their reaction.

Don’t be afraid to say no.

You can’t say yes all the time or keep everyone happy. It’s okay to say no sometimes – just do so clearly, without lying or over-explaining. Maybe there’s an alternative solution.

How To Use Your Locker

This is a short video that shows a student using her locker at school in the United States.

In Ireland our lockers are similar, but they don’t all have combination locks like this one. Check with your school to find out what sort of lock you’ll need.