Students walking in front of Cabell library at dusk.

Keep pursuing your goals

Keep pursuing your goals

Let’s meet this moment

We’re all staring down new challenges in the face of COVID-19. Physical distancing. Health monitoring. Remote and hybrid learning. Life both on and off campus is different.

Times are tough, but so are we.

This current reality can’t keep us from pursuing what we want to achieve — it is temporary, after all. We must remember why we’re here at VCU, visualize the goals we set out to reach and push forward.

We are Rams. Tenacity is in our blood. We will meet this moment.

Stay on track

What are your goals? To become a nurse? Stay engaged in your classes? Or even to decide your major? No matter what your goals are, it’s important to stick with them.

We want our students to successfully achieve their academic goals throughout their time at VCU. Visit our Keep on Learning website for tips and tools to help you start and stay strong this semester.

Then explore these student tips for staying on track to achieve your goals — no matter what challenges come your way.

Jamal Henderson portrait.

Jamal Henderson

Urban and regional studies

Remain humble and optimistic during life-altering times.

Lyndsey Highlander portrait.

Lyndsey Highlander

Accelerated nursing

Stay focused no matter what. Always remember your ‘why’ and come back to it at the end of each day. Then prioritize what you need to get done so you can achieve your goals.

Rosa Vasquez portrait.

Rosa Vasquez

Exercise science

It’s not your adversities that define you, it’s how you overcome them. Don’t be scared to ask for help or open up to loved ones.

Ishann Nandwani portrait.

Ishaan Nandwani

Foreign language, Spanish

Make the most of this situation by pursuing that thing that’s been on your mind for a long time. Learn a new language. Write that novel. Engage yourself creatively, and push boundaries.

Giovanni Knight portrait.

Giovanni Knight

Information systems

If you’re currently struggling or feeling stuck, lean into those emotions and explore them. Our greatest growth comes from great discomforts.

Jesscina Towers portrait.

Jesscina Tower

Criminal justice

It’s easy to fall into a funk when nothing is going right. It’s ok to be sad or frustrated. But don’t lose sight of the person you’re working to be.

VCU is here for you

We want you to stay on track so you can graduate on time and get into the careers that you love.

Michael Rao, Ph.D.
President, VCU and VCU Health System

Need help with your goals?

Explore our tips and tools for goal setting, progress tracking and staying motivated.

Think them through

Carve out specific time to think about your goals. Consider what you need to set yourself up for goal-setting success, such as:

  • A quiet physical space
  • Supplies for writing or drawing
  • A good energy level

Make them SMART

Draft goals that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Check out some examples of SMART academic, professional and personal goals to help get you started.

Still feeling stuck? This goal-setting worksheet from Career Services can help get you on the right track. Plus, you can always set up a virtual appointment with a career advisor or academic advisor to figure out majors and careers that interest you, and work on defining your goals from there.

Write them down

The physical act of writing your goals down will help to make them real, tangible and reachable. Post your written goals in a place where you will see them daily to serve as a reminder and motivation. 

Define your reasons why

If you are setting a new goal, think about the motivation behind it — why do you want to achieve this goal? Reflect on your reasons why, and pinpoint the ones that provide the most inspiration to you. They will help you find motivation when you encounter challenges along the way.

If you have established goals, consider if they still line up with that you currently want. Are there new priorities or passions to explore since the last time you set goals?

Identify potential barriers

Think about the challenges you may encounter as you work toward your goals. Common ones include procrastination, distraction and a lack of set deadlines. What tactics can you use to overcome these obstacles?

Make micro goals

Make micro — or small — daily or weekly goals that will help you reach your long-term goal. Breaking a larger goal into smaller stepping stones makes it feel more manageable. 

Visualize your goals

Create a visual representation of what your goals and future success look like to you. You can use a printable goal tracker or even make a vision board that includes pictures and words to motivate you to reach your goal.

Identify your supporters

Who will you turn to for encouragement or help as you work toward your goal? Your supporters may include:

  • Professors or advisors at VCU or previous institutions
  • Classmates in your major or peers from student organizations
  • Family members or friends
  • Alumni and professionals
  • Current or past supervisors and colleagues
  • Mentors from your community or hometown

Remember, some people may be good options to help you achieve certain types of goals, while others are better suited for different ones. After you identify who your supporters are, make sure to let them know what your goals are, and update them regularly on your progress.

Reward your progress

Reward yourself when you achieve your daily, weekly and long-term goals. Rewards can be large or small, as long as they continue to inspire you. Some examples are watching your favorite show on Netflix, connecting with friends or family over FaceTime and sharing your progress, or ordering takeout from your favorite restaurant. You could even invest in a new interview outfit, especially if your goal is to land your dream job.

Revisit your reasons why

Losing motivation? It happens to us all. If you are feeling stuck, go back to your reasons why to remember the importance of what you are working toward.

Conduct a gap analysis

Since many students’ long-term goal is to start a career in their field of interest, a gap analysis can be a useful exercise to complete to see how your current skills and experience match up to the opportunities that interest you. Career Services offers a gap analysis worksheet you can use to evaluate how your qualifications match up to specific job requirements. This will allow you to see any existing gaps and plan out what skills you need to improve or learn.

Update your resume and portfolio

As you work toward your goals, you will build new skills and work samples along the way. Remember to regularly update your resume and portfolio to accurately show your qualifications for job positions. Career advisors are available virtually for document review whether you are just getting started or trying to craft an application for a specific position of interest.

Connect with your support system

Continue to reach out to your mentors, advisors and supporters to share your accomplishments and get an outside perspective on your progress. It can be hard to see how far you’ve come if you’re only looking through our own (often critical) lens. Others can speak to your progress from their point of view and offer helpful feedback.

As you make progress toward reaching your goals, it helps to stay inspired. Here are some of our favorite books, videos and podcasts to help you find inspiration:


“Atomic Habits” by James Clear


TEDTalk “Grit: the Power of Passion and Perseverance,” from Angela Lee Duckworth


Check out the following podcasts on happiness and motivation: