How to Set Achievable Learning Goals

Learning new skills or improving existing ones can be rewarding and fulfilling, but also challenging and frustrating. How do you set learning goals that are realistic, measurable, and motivating, without setting yourself up for disappointment or burnout? In this article, we will explore some tips and strategies to help you set achievable learning goals that suit your learning style and preferences.

Know your why

Before you start learning anything, you need to have a clear purpose and motivation for doing so. Why do you want to learn this skill or topic? How will it benefit you personally or professionally? What are the outcomes or results you expect or desire? Knowing your why will help you define your learning goals, align them with your values and interests, and keep you focused and motivated throughout your learning journey.

    Use SMART criteria

    One of the most popular and effective ways to set learning goals is to use the SMART criteria, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. SMART goals are clear, concrete, and realistic, and allow you to track your progress and evaluate your results. For example, instead of saying “I want to learn Spanish”, a SMART goal would be “I want to achieve a B1 level of Spanish proficiency by taking an online course and practicing with a tutor for three months”.

    Identify your learning style and preferences

    Everyone learns differently, and what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, it is important to identify your learning style and preferences, and choose the methods and resources that suit you best. For example, some people are visual learners who prefer images, diagrams, and videos, while others are auditory learners who prefer listening, speaking, and podcasts. Some people are more independent and self-directed, while others are more collaborative and social. Some people prefer structured and formal learning environments, while others prefer flexible and informal ones. By knowing your learning style and preferences, you can tailor your learning goals and strategies to your strengths and needs.

    Break down your goals into smaller steps

    Another way to make your learning goals more achievable is to break them down into smaller and more manageable steps. This will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed or discouraged by the complexity or difficulty of your learning goal, and instead focus on the immediate and attainable actions you can take. For example, if your goal is to learn how to play the guitar, you can break it down into steps such as learning the basic chords, practicing simple songs, joining a guitar class, etc. Each step should have a specific and measurable outcome, and a deadline or frequency to keep you on track.

    Seek feedback and support

    Learning can be more effective and enjoyable when you have feedback and support from others who can help you improve, inspire you, or challenge you. Feedback can come from various sources, such as teachers, mentors, peers, or online communities, and can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, correct your mistakes, or suggest new ideas or resources. Support can come from friends, family, or other learners who share your goals or interests, and can provide you with encouragement, motivation, or accountability. By seeking feedback and support, you can enhance your learning experience and achieve your learning goals faster and easier.

    Review and adjust your goals

    Finally, setting learning goals is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process that requires regular review and adjustment. As you learn, you may discover new information, opportunities, or challenges that affect your learning goals. You may also find that your goals are too easy or too hard, too broad or too narrow, or too relevant or irrelevant. Therefore, you should periodically review your goals and evaluate your progress, and make any necessary changes or updates to reflect your current situation and needs. By reviewing and adjusting your goals, you can ensure that they are always aligned with your why, SMART criteria, learning style and preferences, and feedback and support.

    This article was originally published on

    3 thoughts on “How to Set Achievable Learning Goals”

    1. Setting goals has pretty much been my lifetime work….the problem was that they were always (well, mostly always) goals for someone else. Weight loss goals, stress management goals, relationship goals etc.

      Somehow it’s always easier to set goals for other people!!!!

      I am now realising, that I now have one big overarching goal, that I have broken down into smaller goals, and that my biggest problem is that I lack the hyper-focus that Dr Belcetis talks of.

    Leave a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *