So you’ve decided to extend your work term and you’re faced again with having to set Learning Objectives. You may be having a bit of a struggle trying to come up with new ones. It’s possible that you’re sitting hunched over at your desk, hoping that furiously tapping your pencil on the desk will magically generate fresh SMART Learning Objectives for your work term. Not to worry – I’ve done that too and I’m sure other students have as well. If anything though, Learning Objectives are worth the extra thinking. Revisiting them can open up many different opportunities to grow either personally, professionally, or both.
So, without further ado, here are some things to keep in mind when setting Learning Objectives (for the nth time):
#1 Reflecting on the past is a good way to improve
You may feel that you have done all that you could have under the sun, but rewind for a moment to the past 4 months. Ask yourself some questions and self-reflect:
What were some things you were able or unable to accomplish? Was there anything you lightly touched on but didn’t have a chance to develop? Where are you now and where do you want to be after another 4 months?
If one of your previous Learning Objectives was to improve your verbal communication skills in general, this semester you may want to focus specifically on presenting your ideas to others more concisely and clearly.
Sometimes, it’s not about coming up with a new Learning Objective, but digging deeper and further refining an existing one. Please don’t just copy and paste your past Learning Objectives – revisit them and consider reframing them to be more tailored to your current work term.
#2: There’s always something new to learn
In the words of the ever wise Dr. Seuss, “the more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”. This is true in many different ways. For one, having an open mind and being up for a challenge can help you develop in aspects that you never thought you would. Perhaps you’ll end up developing some Adobe Illustrator skills and have some design works to show your future employers. At the end of the day, you’re acquiring skills that will definitely make you more marketable when you’re job-hunting in the future. Think about setting Learning Objectives as a wish list of skills and experiences you would want to show employers. You can even take a look at your resume and see if there are any gaps you want to fill in.
#3: Find inspiration in your workplace
Apart from searching deeply within yourself, you can also take a look around your workplace for inspiration. Ever wondered how some of your colleagues managed to become so skilled and stay so driven? There are a lot of research studies regarding goal setting and its relation to workplace engagement. Most of them reiterate that highly engaged employees in workplaces today are the ones with goals to work towards, but not just any goals – SMART goals. If you don’t remember what they are or how to set SMART goals, have a look at our “Setting SMART goals” article. Next time you’re at work, try striking up a conversation with some of your colleagues and asking how it is that they got to where they are now – you may think of a Learning Objective right then!
#4: Actually try to remember what your Learning Objectives are
There are plenty of strategies at your disposal to not only help you remember your goals, but also achieve them. If that means printing your Learning Objectives out on a piece of paper and taping it to the side of your computer monitor, then do it. You could even take it further and map out for yourself the steps you will take to reach your goal. This could mean setting smaller, weekly goals; achieving them may not seem like much but one by one, they ultimately bring you closer to reaching your Learning Objective. Nothing is worse than having to revisit learning objectives set half-heartedly at the beginning of the work term and conjuring up from the depths of your mind what exactly you were trying to say.
#5: Learning Objectives aren’t like static characters in novels
You may find that the Learning Objectives you set in the beginning are no longer relevant a couple weeks or months into your work term. You know what, that’s completely fine. Job responsibilities and tasks/projects change, other employees may leave the organization - plenty of work circumstances may change. It makes sense that your Learning Objectives would evolve with you throughout your work term. So don’t feel that once you’ve set a Learning Objective, you have stick with it until the end; it’s okay to adjust as you go.
With these 5 things in mind, you’ll be able to set or reframe your Learning Objectives for the continuation of your work term and maybe even for the future. Best of luck on your work terms!