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How do you set a good learning goal?

Every course here starts with the opportunity to write down your learning goal. When you write down your learning goal, you simultaneously transfer the information to your memory system. Your brain is subconsciously taking steps towards your goal. How do you formulate a learning objective?

Focus on positive behavior

Research shows that focusing on something positive increases your desire to want to learn it. Close your eyes and DO NOT think about that difficult co-worker, or that problem you ran into yesterday. If you tell yourself to NOT do something, you'll focus on it even more. That is definitely not what you want. Therefore, it is much better to focus on the behavior you DO want instead.

NOT: "I don't want to be distracted by Social Media anymore."

But: "I want to be productive and fully concentrate on my work."

Describe the new situation as detailed as possible

The more specific you make your learning goal, the easier it is to achieve it. Let's say you want to be more assertive at work. You can make that goal more specific by saying: "I want to assert myself more in work meetings." Or even better: "In next Tuesday's work meeting, I want to be more assertive when I answer questions from my co-workers."

It's easier to start working on your learning goal when you make it more specific. Write down when, and in which situations you are going to practice new behavior. When you know which situations are suitable for a try-out, you are prepared and ready to practice your new skills. If you don't know exactly when, how, and where to practice, you'll just keep putting it off.

A very specific and detailed description increases your chances of achieving your learning goals. You can also test and check your goals.

Keep it realistic and achievable

It is difficult for your brain to deal with different learning goals simultaneously. Learning a new behavior is hard enough. Having multiple learning goals on top of that can be too demanding. Don't overdo it. Be realistic and set just one or two attainable goals, i.e. goals that are within reach and not too hard to achieve.

Believe you can achieve your goal

You will only change if you truly want to change. So, make sure it really is your goal.

And finally

Ever heard of setting SMART goals? It's a mnemonic for setting (learning) goals. It stands for:

  • Specific: make a goal as specific as possible
    (simple, sensible, significant)
  • Measurable: make your goals measurable. When will it have been achieved?
    (meaningful, motivating)
  • Attainable: make sure it is something you can stand for
    (agreed, achievable)
  • Relevant: bear in mind all the other goals you want to achieve
    (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based)
  • Time-bound: specify a timeframe in which you will want to work on achieving your goal
    (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)

This helps with setting a good learning goal. Good luck!


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