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

Study skills sessions on Oamaru and Ashburton campuses


Oamaru Campus Study Skills Session


Tuesday 8th Mar 2016 10:00am-12:00pm

Ashburton Campus Study Skills Session


Tuesday 16th Mar 2016 10:00am-12:00pm

Student Support Staff will be visiting Ashburton and Oamaru to meet with students and to provide a learning styles session – to encourage students to think explicitly about how they learn and what strategies will work for them. The programme for both campuses is as follows:

•10:00am – introduction to student support (including Māori and Pasifika support)

•10:00am to 12:00pm – Learning styles session

Visit our Study and Learning Seminars page for this information for all campuses.

Visit our opening hours page for all campuses to find when we offer our services.


Suffering from end of term itis or exam stress?

Want support and advice on how to cope with exam stress or improve your time management skills? Then you might want to take advantage of the assistance and resources available from our upstairs neighbour –  Learning Services. They have Study Skills tips available online or you can pop in and see the friendly learning advisors.

Kevin, from Learning Services says, “The end of semester can be a stressful time for students. Some students are realising they have covered a lot of content and should have started their programme of revision earlier. Others have end of semester assignments due and know that they should have done more earlier in the year.

If you are feeling anxious or stressed about last minute study strategies or assignment completion, NOW is a good time to seek support from the team at Learning Services. They have a range of resources to guide you in self-study, including how to prepare for tests and exams. They are available right now to help you get organised so you can complete your course work successfully. Do ring on 940 8005, or pop in on Level 2 of the Library, if the Learning Services team can do anything to support your study”.

The Library also has many books available on improving study techniques including: Study smarter, not harder and College Success Guide.

Take a couple of minutes and watch Managing Stress, by Brainsmart, BBC for tips on keeping stress under control.


What’s the point in peer review?


Cartoon by Nick D Kim, (please see site for terms of reuse)

We are coming to the start of a new term, where many of you will have the good fortune to attend one or more classes with Library and Learning Services, where you will sample the heady delights of APA referencing, avoiding plagiarism and finding reliable information for your assessments.

We are often asked to talk about peer review in these classes, as your tutors may require you to include them among your sources. It can sometimes seem like a bit of a dark art, but it’s a pretty simple process, and I wanted to write a post about why on earth your tutor stubbornly insists on you locating peer reviewed articles, while you might feel your time is better spent with more serious pursuits.

What’s Peer Review

Also known as refereeing. When a journal article has been peer reviewed, it means a bunch of experts in that field have checked the paper in detail, and have agreed that it is suitable for publication.

They can send it back for revisions or even request that experiments be done again. They’re on the review panel for the journal because they (should) know what they’re talking about.

So, if an article has been peer reviewed, it’s a kind of expert endorsement that the quality of the article is up to scratch. That means that, in theory, it’s more trustworthy for the rest of us, so if you’re basing your assessments on peer reviewed material, that means you’re basing it on information that is more trustworthy. That makes your assessment more trustworthy, which hopefully means better marks. Sadly, the internet is not peer reviewed, so although information there might be trustworthy, you’ll have to find an independent way to prove it.

But Peer Review goes wrong…

The process is not without its flaws- to put it mildly. Raw data is frequently not provided, so the reviewers have to trust that the author didn’t make it all up. Journals with blinkered reviewers and editors publish biased articles. There are a lot of problems with the peer review process.

So why do we use it?

During a post-war speech to the UK House of Commons, Winston Churchill made the following famous quote:

“Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

Although there are some suggestions to replace or change peer review, inertia and politics and people mean that for now, peer reviewed resources are the worst solution to your problems of providing credible sources for your assignments, except for sources that aren’t peer reviewed.

So, while a class that teaches you to find peer reviewed material might not be easy, it should provide partial inoculation against the fearsome red pen of your tutors- a worthwhile end in itself.

My Kitchen Rules my study skills

I am not proud of myself for watching My Kitchen Rules. My housemate watches it, and it’s a way for us to hang out and talk, or at least that’s how I explain it to myself in the long dark night of the soul. Nonetheless, I have more than passing familiarity with the show, in which contestants compete against each other to eventually win some kind of fabulous prize. Each time they cook, the teams are given a time limit, perhaps an hour, to complete their dish- a time limit that frequently leads to disqualification as they fail to bring it together in time. Because of these dire consequences, it would be unthinkable if some groups of contestants were arbitrarily given much more time than others to create their meals. Recently, in dealing with a stressed-out student, I drew a parallel that I hadn’t picked up on before, between this kind of show and the process of writing an assignment or preparing for an exam.

The student in question had prepared thoroughly, but had made a minor but fundamental mistake in preparing, and had to start over, with only a day or two until submission. From our conversation, it was clear that some busier or less diligent coursemates had not even begun to do the research at that point, and it got me thinking.

The analogy is this: When you put off starting work on an assignment, you are essentially giving your coursemates the same advantage as the game show competitors would enjoy if they had a day to prepare their food, rather than an hour.

Tutors expect reading and research from you as part of the assessment process, to enable you to develop your subject knowledge. By failing to make a start on this before the last minute, you are allowing those who do make an early start to get streets ahead in their understanding of your subject, but more importantly (since you don’t compete directly with them) you are denying yourself that advantage.

The version of yourself who started early, even at a stately pace, would be streets ahead of you in compehension. They would find assessments easier, because there would be ample time. They would graduate with much greater knowledge of their subject, and a correspondingly greater chance of success beyond CPIT.

You owe it to yourself to master the time management skills to get a fair shake at each assignment, in the same way as the contestants of this show owe it to themselves to plan their meals to be complete with the time frame available to them. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up for, if not failure, then a lesser success, and a loss of your potential. The library has stacks of books (that’s a little library humour. I won’t be giving up my day job.) on the subject, but if you recognise yourself in what I’ve written above, why not have a chat to the good people of Learning Services? They have the training (and the bedside manner that books commonly lack) to help you make the most of your time at CPIT.

Want to sharpen up on your study skills or APA referencing?


Make time this semester to get to one  of Learning Services FREE lunchtime seminars focusing on either Study and Learning techniques (from note-taking through to exam preparation) or  APA Referencing (Why and how to acknowledge the information you use in your assignments). 

Here is the link on Facebook for all these seminars or you can download the timetables below :

Best of luck with your studies in 2013!

Tohea, tohea, ko te tohe i te kai.

Keep on striving as one strives for food. (From Brougham, A.E & Reed, A.W. (1963) Māori proverbs)

New to tertiary study? Want better grades? Come to these FREE Lunchtime Seminars

• Taking Notes in Class: strategies for taking notes that make sense
• Reading Strategies: tips for reading articles and books
• APA Referencing: how to acknowledge the information you use your assignments
• Tests and Exams: strategies for preparation and on-the-day survival

Seminars are 12-1pm on various weekdays and Saturdays, starting Thursday, March 8.

They are held in L202/203 (upstairs in the Atrium).

Just come along! No need to book.

See the Semester One timetable