Reach your goals the SMART way

We all have goals – things we would like to achieve. As a tertiary student, it’s savvy to prioritise your goals.

You may have goals to:

  • Get higher grades in your assessments
  • Take a holiday after the exams

These are worthy goals – you’ll feel great when you make them happen. To reach your goals, you need to use a proven way to get started.

You need to set SMART goals to ensure that you get what you want. SMART typically stands for:

S: Specific

M: Measurable

A: Achievable

R: Relevant

T: Time-bound

Let’s take a look at 2 examples of SMART goals in action:


I want to score better grades


I want to score an A- or higher in each of my courses.


Tomorrow at 2 pm, I will access the Ara Learning Services Exams and Tests resources

I will note down the advice given and take steps to study more effectively.


Tomorrow, after accessing the Exams and Tests resources, I’ll create a weekly time schedule. I’ll use the tips found in:

Organising Your Time

Organising Your Time handout

My schedule will show my class times, part-time work hours, self-study times, breaks and leisure times.

I’ll plan enough time each week to study each course.

I’ll consistently use improved learning strategies based on the Exams and Tests resources and:

How to Learn

How to learn handout


I have the potential to score better grades, as I have obtained good grades like B.

Excellent grades will jump-start my career when I graduate.

I’ll be more likely to get an attractive job offer sooner.

My self-confidence will increase.


In the coming exams, I’ll be scoring more A- or higher grades in my courses.

In a year’s time, I’ll have more A- or better grades.


I want to save for my holiday

Specific: I’d like to save $200 for my holiday in Nelson.


I’ll take a close look at my finances tomorrow – my monthly income and expenses.

I’ll write down the ways I can reduce my spending.

I’ll think of new part-time work to look for.


Every Saturday I’ll record my savings, income and expenses.


I would like a Nelson holiday with friends during the summer break. It would be a reward for my hard work.


I’ll have saved $200 in 6 weeks’ time (I’ve calculated that I can save $33.33 per week).

I’ll go on my Nelson holiday in mid-January 2020.

Saving money regularly is a great habit to develop. But are you doing everything you can to protect your money and financial information?

Use these 14 Ways to Protect Your Money and Financial information

These 2 examples above show that setting SMART goals makes them more than just wishes or dreams. SMART goals give you focus and clarity regarding:

  • What exactly is your goal? (Specific)
  • What exactly must you do, by what deadline? (Measurable & Achievable)
  • Why and how are your goals important to you? (Relevant)
  • When can you reasonably expect to reach your goals? (Time-bound)


How to stay the course and reach your SMART goals

How do you stay on track with the goals you’ve set? Some ways are:

  • Vision: Create a vision board or vision screen – look for attractive pictures, whether hard copy or online. Display in prominent places the pictures of your goals e.g. photos of the places where you plan to holiday. Make the pictures a part of your phone or computer home screen.
  • Reminders: Give yourself reminders – you can use phone apps or a digital/hard copy organiser.
  • Reward: Reward yourself for the milestones achieved, to sustain your momentum towards reaching your goals. Treat yourself to a special meal or a present.


Step 1: Write your SMART goals.

Step 2: Keep yourself rewarded and motivated.

Step 3: Stay the course and walk the talk.

Step 4: Relish reaching your goals. Rejoice.


Start making and carrying out SMART goals to succeed. Check out these videos to find out more:

All the best and good luck!

Take action and make all your SMART goals come true


Leonard Yeo

Learning Services

Trans Awareness Week: How to support Trans and Non-Binary folk

Trans and Non-Binary people are everywhere. On the street, in our classes, on TV, at the library, on the bus, at the marae, in our neighbourhoods and homes. You may be a trans or NB person (Kia ora! How’s your week going?). For those who are not, Transgender Awareness Week is a great time to reflect on how to support Trans and Non-Binary people.

While attitudes and institutions are changing slowly to be more accepting and inclusive (in places like Ara), there is still much to be done to create safer spaces for transgender people. Here are some resources with tips on how you can help:

Learn / Whakaakoako

Are you new to the idea that people exist whose gender is different to the one assigned at birth or whose gender doesn’t fit the binary of male or female? Fear not – there is heaps of information out there for you!

This comic by NZ artist Sam Orchard is easy to read and is very colourful:

From Sam Orchard’s Queer and Trans 101 comic

Rainbow Youth, Inside Out and LUSH cosmetics created this booklet: How to be a trans alley .

These videos from Australia cover a lot of ground, starting with ‘The Basics’. For all those visual learners out there:

You may find this glossary helpful too, to get your head around words used to describe gender (including Māori and Pasifika terms):

Listen / Whakarongo

Right, so you’ve got your head around the language and ideas, where to now? Listening to transgender people gives you insight into experiences that may be different from your own.

A recent episode of He Kākano Ahau, a podcast series on Radio NZ exploring what it means to Māori in the city, is about decolonising gender and sexuality in Wellington City and includes interviews with two Whakawāhine Māori.

Inside Out, an organisation dedicated to supporting and advocating for Rainbow youth in Aotearoa NZ, has created a series of videos that are worth checking out, including this one on being non-binary.

Gender Minorities Aotearoa has created a series of posters that are available here:

Support / Āwhina

Trans Awareness week finishes on November 20th, Transgender Day of Remembrance – a day to remember all those trans people who have been murdered. The reality and consequences of transphobia are very serious and we urgently need to respond to this crisis.

The Counting Ourselves report was released in September this year and gives a comprehensive picture of trans and non-binary people’s health and wellbeing in Aotearoa. It makes for some pretty hard reading, finding high levels of discrimination and violence. The report itself is a step towards addressing these issues, providing evidence for making informed decisions on laws, policies and practices that will improve health and wellbeing for trans folk.

The authors of the report wrote this article for Trans Awareness week that includes suggestions for supporting trans people.

Making the world a more inclusive, accepting and safer place is important mahi for all of us, whether you’re trans or cis. Each of us doing our bit can make a big difference.

Its a knockout….grand final today….

‘It’s a Knockout’ – health and wellbeing activity for students with a great social atmosphere!

Jill Milburn (hospitality tutor) and Mark Wheatley (automotive tutor) have based this challenge on the British TV programme.

There are four teams; Fox Harriers, Aoraki United, Godley City and Coupland Athletics each led by tutors. Arnold Prasad (automotive), Joanne Fraser (business), Cody McMinn (painting & decorating) and Steve Le Corre (hospitality).


Every student who is enrolled at our campus has been put into four groups. If students can’t make it, they can still add points to their teams with other activities throughout the day.

  1. Outdoor Education – treasure hunt
  2. ‘Ara’s got talent’ singers’ rappers’ rhymers’ dancers and poets
  3. ‘Blind folded cake decorating’. A member from each team was given instructions on decorating a cup cake blind-folded from the other members of the team
  4. ‘Hungry Hippos’
  5. ‘Ara quiz day’ – music, general knowledge, films
  6. ‘Ara Kahootz’
  7. Inflatable obstacle courses on the green (today). Come and check it out!

Grand final today and there will a huge Barbecue 4-5pm thanks to Gene Foster and Wally Katene.


Thanks to Amanda from Fonterra who has been supporting us by donating cheeses and will attend prize giving and Leonie Rasmussen for being so supportive and contributing to every event.


Prize Money – 1st $300, 2nd $150, 3rd $75, 4th $50 and a trophy presentation from Fonterra.

Events have been held monthly on a Wednesday 3- 4pm followed by a barbecue – thanks Gene and Wally (hospitality tutors).

Helen Purdon

Library Assistant- Timaru Campus

World Kindness Day

Today is World Kindness Day and there is a lot to like about the good feelings that stem from being kind to someone, or by having someone be kind towards you, or simply by being kind to yourself.

World Kindness Day is about thinking about how we can become happier, and help the world by doing kind things for ourselves and others.

Today is also referred to as Radom Acts of Kindness Day and you can find information about being a RAKtavist and many, many, suggestions for kind acts at RAK

Join us at the City Campus Library for Random Acts of Kindness Day where we have created a large scale dice that you can roll and it will reveal a kindness suggestion, plus you will receive a small gift form us. This activity starts at 10 am and will continue until there are no treats left.



What act of kindness will you do today?

Ara closed for Canterbury Anniversary Day, Friday the 15th November

Canterbury Anniversary Day (Show Day) is on Friday the 15th November so Ara Institute of Canterbury (Christchurch and Ashburton campuses only) will be closed for the day. Canterbury Anniversary Day commemorates the founding of Canterbury Province in the 1850’s.

Emily Harper Christchurch from near the Gloucester Street Bridge 1857. Watercolour. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū,

If you have no plans for the public holiday why not take a break and immerse yourself in all things rural by heading to the New Zealand Agricultural Show at their Canterbury Agricultural Park near Halswell.



Approximately 100,000 people visit the show which runs from 13th-15th November and there is something for everyone to enjoy. Attractions in 2019 include; food, drink, live music performances, circus acts, equestrian events, carnival rides, wood chopping and livestock competitions.

The 2018 Agricultural Show, New Zealand Agricultural Show website


A visit to the Show is a great day out for both adults and children…


New Zealand Agricultural Show: map of the Addington Grounds

For more information about the show go to the New Zealand Agricultural Show website.

The Library will be open as usual on Saturday the 16th and Sunday the 17th of November. Have a great break on Friday…..

Exams coming up? Feeling a bit stressed and Overwhelmed?

It’s the start of November and the end of the academic year is not far away.  The good news is, this means that summer is just around the corner, hot sun, ice cream, the beach and Christmas!!!  The bad news is that you probably have lots of assignments and exams to get out of the way first. So here are some tips to help you keep calm and manage that stress as you head towards the end of the academic year. 

Take Care of Yourself

This seems really obvious, but how many of us focus on this?  To be at your best, you need to:

  • Eat well – Going to MacDonald’s, Denny’s and hell pizza are quick and easy ways to get food.  But the body needs a balanced, healthy diet.  Try to cook some basic meals with fresh ingredients instead of relying on takeaways and pre-made meals. 
  • Be well hydrated – not with Alcohol.  That’s only going to give you a sore head and impede your ability to concentrate.  Go easy on the beer, wine and spirits and drink plenty of water instead.  You should be drinking about a litre a day.  
  • Get plenty of sleep – most people need seven to eight hours sleep per night to function well.  If you are having trouble sleeping, try doing something relaxing before you go to bed.  You might read a book, talk to a friend, watch TV but turn off your computer, turn your phone off or at least have it on silent and put your study materials to one side.   When you’re going to sleep, reduce as much light and sound distraction as possible from your room.  
  • Get some exercise – you don’t have to go and work out at the gym, although some of you might enjoy this.  But at least get outside and go for a walk each day to get some fresh air and avoid being cooped up studying all day. 

Plan your studies

Picture of a diary in lap of person wearing an orange top, they are about to write in it with a pencil.

This is important, create yourself a study timetable.  Make yourself a weekly planning chart or use the one that Learning Services has.  You may need one for each week between now and the day of your last exam or last assignment due date. 

Start by putting in all the commitments you have for example, work, classes and other regular commitments.  Then block out the time you get up and get ready in the morning, your lunch break and the time to prepare and make your evening meal.  Indicate the time you go to bed. 

Make a list of all the study tasks you have to do and when each piece is due in.  Estimate how long you think each task will take you. 

Now place these tasks into your weekly study timetable.  Remember, you need to leave some time to go for a walk or do something enjoyable each day, even if it’s just half an hour. 

Keep to your plan.  Keep referring back to it to make sure you are following your timetable.

At the end of the week, review your plan and see if you achieved everything you wanted to.  If not, make sure you carry these tasks forward into the next weeks plan. 

The day of the exam

So the day of the exam is here and you’re feeling nervous.   Don’t worry, that’s perfectly normal and not a bad thing.  Anxiety is a natural response, it’s one of our basic survival instincts and has helped humans survive over hundreds of years.  Anxiety gets us into an alert state where we are ready to do one of two things, fight or flight.  That is, stay and face the challenge head on or run away before whatever is scaring has a chance to cause you harm. 

Anxiety can be our friend, it helps us feel alert and take notice of our environment, it helps us focus on the task we are about to do.  However, when we become too anxious then anxiety becomes a problem. 

If you’re sitting in an exam and you start to feel anxious and feel like running away and leaving the exam room, stop.  Take some deep breaths.  Breathe in through the nose, hold your breath for five seconds and release your breath slowly through your mouth.  Do this several times until you feel calmer. 

Another way to calm down in an exam is to focus on something else for a while.  Try this exercise.  Stop what you are doing and sit still and say to yourself:

  1. List five things I can see (do this in your head);
  2. List four things I can hear
  3. List three things I can touch (your hair, your desk, your pen etc);
  4. List two things I can smell (this is getting harder but try, move on if you can’t do it);
  5. List one thing I can taste (it might be what you had for breakfast). 

Do it again if you need to. 

The idea is that this is activity takes your focus away from the panic and brings you back into the present environment.  It centres you in that environment.  When you feel calmer go back to the test or exam you are doing. 

It is perfectly fine to spend the first ten minutes of your exam doing relaxation exercises so that you are calm and can begin. 

So, take care of yourself, plan your time, stay calm.

Good luck.

Advice from Pauline Melham, Manager – Disability Services.