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How do you set a good learning goal?

Your brain loves to focus. Working towards something is motivating and creates commitment. It is an agreement with yourself. Writing down your learning goals helps you to stick to them. At the start of every learning journey, we give you the opportunity to write down your learning goal. You save your goals in your memory and sub-consciously begin to take steps toward achieving them. But how do you formulate a good learning goal?

Focus on positive behavior

We know that learning a new behavior is easier than un-learning old behavior. 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 focuse on it even more. That is definitely not your intention. Therefore, it is much better to focus on the behavior you DO want instead. It's reversed psychology: focusing on something positive makes us really want to learn something new. 

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 be more assertive during work meetings." Or even better: "During next Tuesday's work meeting, I want to display more assertive behavior when answering questions from my colleagues."

As soon as you express your commitment to learning new behavior, you will find you have practically no excuses left to NOT do it. In other words: when remaining vague about the how, where and when of your learning goal, it is going to be difficult to find a situation to practice new behavior. For instance, when is the situation right to practice being more assertice. You get it? You'll just keep putting it off, if you don't know exactly when, how and where to practice. 

A very specific and detailed description increases your chances of meeting your learning 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 only one or a few goals that are attainable. 

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 goals 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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