Every fall comes around and the beginning of the school year creeps up on us. Our “back to school” clothes and crisp new highlighters have us anticipating the beginning of the semester and a fresh start. With that comes the plan to stay organized and dedicated throughout the entire school year. So many times I have heard myself say “I will not procrastinate this year” or “This year I want to...”

Then, as we get deeper into the semester, life takes over and we lose track of that plan. Our lives become busy and messy; assignments may be forgotten about, our eyes become heavy with no sleep, our bloodstream basically becomes coffee and that fully stocked fridge turns into Ramen Noodle dinners.

It becomes too easy to lose track of that determination as we become overwhelmed and sleep deprived, as so many of us do. How can I be better at this? I asked myself.

Goal setting has become a perfect way for me to get excited about the upcoming year, stay on track and tackle things as they come my way.

The first step to this process is to be realistic about your goals. It is by far the most important aspect of keeping it together throughout the school year. Many of us tend to overwhelm ourselves with too many commitments, so it’s important to know your limits of what you can and cannot handle.

This is also why it is important to aim for goals in multiple areas of your life. For example, set academic goals, goals to finish a half marathon and to catch a beautiful picture of the sunset every Sunday night after your family dinner. Concentrating on one area too much can lead to exhaustion and even boredom.

Next, write down your goals. Start with weekly, move to monthly, then finish with yearly. Visuals are extremely helpful when trying to accomplish something new. There are many different ways to turn your aspirations into visual pieces, and there is something out there for everyone.

Goal setting worksheets are an easy way to simply write and keep track of your accomplishments. (Who even knew goal setting worksheets were a thing, right?)

A pretty planner is a must for me. I think many of us can relate when I say that I go weak at the knees for a good planner. Personally, I need a weekly, not daily, setup with large spaces to write in. Vera Bradley, Erin Condren and Spark Planner are a few of my go-to brands. Maybe you’re more of a tech lover. Use Google Calendar or Apple Calendar, and set reminders on your laptop or phone so you’ll never forget an assignment or commitment.

Inspiration boards are another great way to stay inspired to accomplish your goals. It’s actually fun to fill them with pictures, clips, quotes and basically anything that inspires you. The great thing about them is that they can change constantly. Once you accomplish something, take it down and pin something up that represents your new goal. It’s like as you evolve, so does your board. It’s also interesting to have a visual board that describes what your life is like at any given moment.