Study skills
By Gregory Mitchell - Copyright © 2003
Chapter 3 - Setting Objectives
We are motivated to act in order to acquire those things we feel we need and want. In life there are a range of such desires: survival and security needs (including health, sex, food and shelter), social needs (to belong and to have influence over one’s situation in society), ego needs (for self-esteem and other people’s respect), and fulfillment needs (to express ourselves and reach our full potential).

A necessary early step in studying a subject is to consider what it is you are aiming for and what needs you are trying to fulfill: 

What do I really want to get from this course?” 

Be as specific as possible. As you study, keep reminding yourself of this objective for doing the course, as this will keep you on target. 

Here are some useful guidelines for clarifying your objectives:

  1. State your objective as precisely as possible. Consider how you will know when your objective has been attained. This will ensure that your objective is realistic and specific enough.

  2. Ask yourself whether there is a senior objective lurking behind your apparent objective: ask why it is that you want what you want. Ensure that any such objectives do not conflict with each other.

  3. State a target date by which you want to achieve this and give your reasons why.

  4. Be clear that you want this for yourself and not for someone else.

  5. Identify all the challenges you face in order to attain your objective.

  6. Work out your plan of how you will manage each of these challenges and identify the resources (both within yourself and externally) you will call on to assist you.

  7. Finally ask if there is anything that can stop you achieving your objective now.

Establish not only your objective but your reasons for it. It may be that you simply want to earn more money or have more fun. Or it may be the desire to change your current circumstances or become what you conceive to be a better educated person.

Tell yourself the truth about your own motives. Lay down your aims and get to work with sensible determination. Trust yourself, for you are your own boss. You are no longer a child to be intimidated, you are an adult in control of your own learning. And you are a customer: the course and those who conduct it are there to serve and help you.

Whenever you set out on a course of learning, however modest the subject, you never really know where it will lead you. You set your sights and make your plans but the world is wonderfully unpredictable... by opening your mind to knowledge you are inviting life to touch you in new ways, for new opportunities to arise that could never be foreseen, and for you to have a new level of influence on the world around you. Not only does knowledge help you adapt to change, it helps you to create it.

Thinking has a gloomy image. Many people tend to see thinking as some sort of mental drudgery rather than as a liberating activity. Perhaps this views stems from schooldays when we were told “Concentrate and pay attention or else.” Obeying this command required furrowed brows and hunched shoulders. The true picture of concentration however is quite different. Someone engrossed in a subject is normally in a relaxed state and enjoying their activity. The process of concentration is a controlled wandering of the mind, from the subject to associated ideas and back again to the subject. For creative thinking is like juggling: the more balls you get in the air, the greater the chance of seeing new patterns emerge. The mind needs to draw on its many resources as well as the current instructions.

Consciously, you can point your mind in a certain direction but then you need to let it pick and choose from its world of ideas. Our minds need to scan just as our eyes do. A fixed form of concentration is alien to our mental process and actually harmful. When we think intelligently and creatively, such as we need to do when we are learning, we are melding together many relevant ideas, our own and other people’s. Original thought inevitably derives to a large extent from the thoughts, ideas and discoveries of those before us, from whom we have learned. 

We are individuals in a long line of human endeavor. The people that wrote your study materials are trying to hand down the hard-won wisdom of others before them. If you are fortunate you may eventually add to this process. But merely to share in the great traffic of knowledge is a pleasure in itself. You will indeed find that thought need not be a drudgery and can be exhilarating and liberating.

NOTE: You can greatly boost your ability to concentrate effectively by doing the Mind Development Course Concentration: Educating the Will. It is highly recommended that you go on to acquire these skills, which will very much complement your new studying abilities.


1. Introduction
2. Barriers to Learning
3. Setting Objectives
4. Reading Techniques
5. Key Word Noting
6. More on Note-Taking
7. Associative Networks
8. Asking Questions & Listening
9. Thinking Clearly
10. Word Definitions
11. Defeating the Decay of Memories
12. Physical Learning
13. Sight, Sound, Action...
14. The Decision to Fail
15. What's Next?


Copyright © 2004 Gregory Mitchell - Published by Trans4mind

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