Crafting and setting goals can feel like a big commitment, especially in academic settings. To make this process more manageable, students can dissect their goals into smaller, more easily digestible steps.These steps are designed to clarify goals and achieve them with enhanced success. Read more to find out why the S.M.A.R.T. approach allows students to gradually work towards their goals, one easily manageable bite-sized piece at a time.
The first step to setting goals is defining the goal and narrowing them down. This is done by outlining exactly what needs to be done. A result of setting a specific goal is providing a clear direction instead of using vague terms or language. Having clarity about what the target goal is helps students eliminate confusion. The more specific a goal is, the easier it will be to achieve.
Once a goal is clearly defined, it is important to have a system to collect evidence to track and monitor progress. This can be a great way to reach target dates, keep motivation consistent, and celebrate small successes along the way. Measurement of progress works well when your goal is quantifiable. It should be easy to ask how much, when, and be aware of the timeline.
It is important to challenge yourself, but setting goals that are too complex and unobtainable can lead to frustration. A goal should encourage you to work hard and be diligent, but simultaneously be possible to complete. Going hand in hand with measurability, it is important they fit within a specific timeframe.
An important checkpoint step of goal setting is to make sure the goal aligns with your aspirations. Goals that are relevant will matter long-term. Each action you take will contribute to moving you closer to achieving your goal. The actions will directly align with your objectives you set from the start.
Goals should have a definitive deadline for completion. Especially for students, it can be easy to procrastinate or let a project last too long. Having a sense of urgency or a practical sense of time can help combat procrastination. It also helps break up time into smaller chunks and gives students a good idea how to use their resources effectively.
Example of S.M.A.R.T. Goal in Action
Imagine a student wanted to increase their grade in their trigonometry math class. Their S.M.A.R.T. goal may be set up like this:
Specific: I will improve my math grade by increasing my understanding of trigonometry.
Measurable: I will achieve this by turning in all trigonometry homework after I work with a math tutor.
Achievable: Every Monday I will dedicate two hours to practicing trigonometry and asking my tutor when I need help.
Relevant: Improving my trigonometry skills is important because it will help me move forward to a more difficult class next semester.
Time-bound: I will achieve this goal in three months and aim to see improvement in my trigonometry grade by the end of the semester.
In this example, the student’s S.M.A.R.T. goal is successfully defined (trigonometry), sets a measurable goal (all homework turned in), is obtainable (dedicating time and receiving assistance), is relevant to their academic life (wanting to move forward), and is timely (ending at the end of the semester).