I feel like I should explain a little about goal setting for this next week.
Ideally, goal setting should go like this:
We set a goal at some point in time, then we achieve that goal at some point in the future.
In a perfect world, this would be great. But goal setting never works out exactly like that. The problem is that actually our goal setting pans out like this:
I'm sure you're familiar with this, I know I am. The problem is that we set a goal, we don't define it properly, we don't monitor it and we have no idea whether we have achieved it or not. At some point in the future, we may or may not remember that we had set a goal or not. It may or may not be too late.
So, I want to tell you about the 4 S's of literature review goal setting. This is not an exhaustive list of things to think about by any means. However, it is the most important list, based on feedback I've had from other students.
The 4 S's - Your literature Review Goals should be:
They should be tiny! It's really ok to make big goals at the beginning. In fact, I encourage it. However, you mustn't stop there. Take your big goals and break them down into bite-size pieces. How small? Well, that really depends on you. The biggest I recommend is one goal per day. However, if you can, I would divide your big goals for the next few weeks up further to give you about 3 small goals per day. This makes them manageable, achievable and gives you the opportunity to monitor your progress.
I've touched on this already. Your goals must be small but they must add up to something bigger. Each goal that you have must lead on from the last thing you achieved and provide the building blocks for you to begin your next goal.
Again this is quite related to the previous point. Your goals must be sequential, however, they must also be systematic. I like to think of being systematic as a zoomed out version of being sequential. Being systematic means planning the overall literature review well and fitting in your goals exactly with that plan. There we are again, back to that word plan. If you plan your goals you will be much more likely to succeed.
The final S is specificity. You have to be specific to know exactly what it is you want to achieve and to know whether or not you have achieved it. Ask yourself this, "How will I know when I've achieved my goal". If you have to think for more than 3 seconds then your goal is not specific enough. If you can make your goal specific enough to be able to measure it (read xx papers, write xx words etc) then so much the better.
Cheeky bonus S's
These aren't essential but they may very well take your goal setting to the next level
Share your goals with others (i.e. in the forum) and get instant accountability. People will be expecting you to achieve your goals and will be let down if you don't. This is very motivating
Do you have anything to lose with your goals? Are you going to fail or be embarassed? Are you going to lose money? If so, great - this is proven to be a very powerful motivator for achieving your goals. Remind yourself what is at stake when you feel yourself slipping. If there is nothing at stake maybe you can engineer your own stakes. Tell a trusted friend your goal and tell them what you propose to do if you don't reach it. Your forfeit could be to pay money or to do something (eg. clean your friends house for a month).
In the end, all of our goal setting should look like this:
So have a go at setting some goals for this week. Post them in the forum and let me know how you found the process.