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Cat in the Stax: Start SMART

By Ethan Shea

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The 2021 Fall Semester is finally beginning, and for many it’s an exciting return to campus and some semblance of normalcy. With new schedules comes new opportunities and goals, but goal-setting isn’t always easy, so be sure to start SMART this fall.

What do I mean by start SMART?

SMART is an acronym used to help you set goals that you’ll be more likely to achieve. I’ve personally found that using SMART goals helps most when my planner starts to fill up and life begins to get busy, but everyone can benefit from learning a bit about them.

Specific

If your goal is not clearly defined, it’s easy to find a way out of accomplishing it. For example, if my goal is to run more this semester, I would be better off planning to run “five days per week” rather than just telling myself to run “more.” Ask yourself when and where you will work to achieve your goal and write it down. This way, there is less margin for error.

Measurable

Most large goals aren’t achieved in an hour, day, or even a week. As a result, it’s helpful to take note of how you’re progressing toward your goal. Maybe you want to read five books this semester. After you finish one, write it down. Now you’re only four books away from reaching your goal!

Achievable

All goals worth setting should be challenging, but this doesn’t mean they should be impossible to achieve. It’s not helpful to tell you set a goal of growing wings and flying this semester. Of course, you couldn’t do that. The main idea to take away from this portion of your SMART goal is to always ask how you will reach your goal. If you can’t answer this question, maybe your goal, like the wish for wings, is for the birds.

Relevant

When all is said and done, what will you have gained from achieving your goal? All you’ll get from having a goal of eating fast food everyday is a stomach ache, but practicing a language for five minutes daily will bring you one step closer to fluency. Even if a goal is worthwhile, it may not be the right time to achieve it. Maybe your schedule is especially hectic this semester. You don’t want your goals to get in the way of each other, so make sure you plan accordingly.

Time-Bound

If there is not a set date your goal needs to be achieved by, you’ll have more leeway to neglect the work needed to accomplish it. The next time you’re aiming for an A on an exam, write down specific times you plan to study for it. That way you’ll know exactly how much time you’re putting aside, so you’ll be able to focus on all of life’s other obligations accordingly.

In general, some of the most common goals for students are to make new friends and get good grades. Luckily, Falvey Memorial Library is here to help. From astronomy to accounting, librarians who specialize in each subject can be found with the help of Falvey’s subject guides. In addition to your academic aspirations, the Library is a great place to accomplish your social goals and spend time with friends. Maybe even grab a coffee together at Holy Grounds.

No matter what your goals are for this semester, stay safe and stay SMART!


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Cat in the Stax: Leveraging Your Working Break

In lieu of our traditional Spring Break, this semester Villanova is giving us two working breaks, with our first one being this Wednesday and Thursday. Below I’ve shared three tips about how to make the most of your working break and ensure it’s both a productive and relaxing two days.

#1 Evaluate Your Priorities This time is supposed to be a mental reset, so it is important to make sure you are prioritizing your mental health on these two days. As we get into the semester, I’m finding more and more that my priorities for the day are focused around the assignments I have due in the following days or the readings I have for class that night. But this week, I’m restructuring my priorities and putting relaxing activities, such as going for a walk or reading a book for fun, at the top of my list.

#2 Actually WORK It can be tempting to see this working break as two days off, especially if you are lucky enough to have a professor who is not holding classes, but remember this is an opportunity to catch up on or stay on top of your work! As you’ll see through my other tips, your work can look a little different this week, but you don’t want to end this week feeling more behind and overwhelmed than you did on Monday. Make yourself clear goals then crush those goals!

#3 Build Connections with Professors & Librarians This week, I’m focusing on building relationships with more of my professors. Many professors are holding extra office hours this week to talk to students about projects, papers, or exams. Leverage that extra time and drop-in to form a relationship. Subject librarians are an additional resource that you can connect with this week! Whether it’s just to say hi and see if they have any thoughts on your research topic for this semester or to ask for help finding that last elusive source you need for a paper, Falvey’s subject librarians are ready and available to help. Find a lists of all subject librarians here.

#4 Focus on Relaxation & Productivity On my “days off” when I still want to make sure I’m being productive and getting work done, I find little ways to make the day feel more relaxing. Maybe usually you’re up at 8 AM every morning to start working. This week, instead, let your day start at 10 AM or 11 AM and still end at the same time. Or, instead of working at your desk, do some work from bed or the couch. Those little tweaks to your routine may make it feel more like a break while still letting you stay on top of your work.

This is the first of two of Villanova’s working breaks this semester. Use this one as a trial run to see what works best for you. If you have any other tips to share or your plans to make the most of today and tomorrow, share in the comments!


Jenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.


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Last Modified: February 17, 2021