Cover Story

Gearing up for the new academic year

Smiling female student carrying books and backpack
Photo: © Dean Drobot / 123RF Stock Photo

A new academic year or semester is like the sun that shines brightly in the sky after a long night. It carries the dawn of new beginnings. It brings with it a fresh opportunity to accomplish goals that were not. It gives you another chance to evaluate yourself, and brings with it another opening to start anew.

It is crucial to know ‘how’ you could make the most of what is given to you as another chance. The foremost thing to do is to identify your goals. But you also need to create a precise roadmap that would lead to the achievement of those goals, just like the treasure hunter in your favourite adventure stories creates a plan and follows his roadmap to reach his treasure in the cave that is hidden in faraway isolated mountains.

5 roadblocks on your roadmap to success this academic year

Illustration of SMART goals

Roadblock 1: Goal Setting

“Your dreams are your dreams until you write them down.” ~ Anonymous

Yes, you must write your dreams down. This practice will turn your dreams into goals which will entice you into taking actions that you would need to achieve those goals. Give each goal a time limit within which they should be achieved. Everyday take long strides or tiny actions towards fulfilling your dreams.

Set a positive momentum. If you want to achieve good grades this academic year, don’t tell yourself, “I will stop going out, playing or doing anything else till I achieve my goals.” Saying this makes you a prisoner in your mind. Instead try this: “I will dedicate hours in the day or night every day as serious study hours, and will also accomplish every other task/s before or after my serious study hour.”

Keep a list of your goals in a place that you frequent often. Doing this will remind you each day of what you have achieved and what is yet to be achieved. This will not only act as a reminder but will also be a great motivator in achieving pending goals.

Set goals that are achievable. It takes practice, patience, discipline and consistency to be able to achieve a goal.
Set goals that you could achieve as short-term goals and long-term goals. For example, completing assignments on time is a short-term goal. A long-term goal could be losing weight. Identify time limits to completing each of those tasks in your day or throughout the year.

Roadblock 2: Time Management

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, over-whelming tasks into manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
~ Mark Twain

A new academic session/semester is the best time to kick that procrastination, and jumpstart your engine to life. On your roadmap to success you cannot have obstacles like procrastination acting as a barricade to achieving your dreams/goals. You often don’t realize how much time you lose by just sitting there and daydreaming or pushing off tasks to do till the last minute. Maybe you should consider telling yourself that in the holidays you did away with time as you wanted, and now you got to make a timetable and manage your time effectively.

Successful time management techniques:

  • Once you have clear goals to achieve, identify which of these goals fall under short-term and long-term goals.
  • Setting goals will help you prioritize and identify which of those tasks fall under the “important” or “urgent” categories throughout the day and the week.
  • Make weekly maps to understand the school/college tasks to complete, studying to do, and extra-curricular activities to accomplish. These maps will help you analyze your tasks that fall in the urgent or important category.
  • Make a daily schedule that is flexible, and that prioritizes tasks that need to be accomplished urgently from tasks that are important. The schedule will also help in assigning time limits within which each of those tasks needs to be achieved.

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Prof. Sherene Aftab is a passionate counsellor and enthusiastic lecturer. Her expertise lies in the areas of personality development, career and relationship counselling and stress management. You can reach her at

Prof. Sherene Aftab

Prof. Sherene Aftab is a passionate counsellor and enthusiastic lecturer. Her expertise lies in the areas of personality development, career and relationship counselling and stress management. You can reach her at