Why S.M.A.R.T. Goals?
S.M.A.R.T goals are designed to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. S.M.A.R.T. goals are tools you use to set your sights on what it is you want to accomplish and creates a direct pathway to propel you toward that accomplishment. They are a proven technique for creating profound results when developed thoughtfully, referenced daily, and celebrated proudly.
Grab a pen and let's start by making one S.M.A.R.T. goal right now:
S. = Specific
The “specific” section will clearly and concisely represent your goal as a mission statement. The more specific your goal is, the greater your chance of accomplishing it. Without specificity, your goal will be too ambiguous, confusing, grandiose, or indefinite.
Being specific means being able to answer:
- What do you want to accomplish?
- Why is it purposeful or beneficial to accomplish this goal?
- What are the key timelines for this to be accomplished?
M. = Measurable
The “measurable” section represents an effective and realistic metric you’ll use to determine when you have accomplished your goal. By having a tangible metric you will also be able to track progress toward your goal. Consider creating milestone S.M.A.R.T. goals if your large goal includes too many metrics. For example, getting a particular grade in a course is too big for one S.M.A.R.T goal. However, you could create milestone goals (i.e. goals related to assignments, class attendance, etc) to accomplish throughout the course that will build up to your large goal.
Being measurable means being able to answer:
- What is my target outcome for this specific goal?
- How many hours will I need to dedicate?
- What will I need to produce for this goal?
A. = Achievable
The “achievable” section frames your goal as something which pushes you to succeed and to grow. Your goal should motivate you, not defeat you; avoid unattainable, unrealistic, or unfeasible goals. By being achievable, your goal reflects your best efforts and capabilities.
Being achievable means being able to answer:
- Is this goal realistic and doable?
- Do you have the necessary skills, tools, and resources?
- Is this an actionable goal within your control?
R. = Relevant
The “relevant” section confirms that your goal is purposeful to your academic objectives and priorities. It aligns your efforts to goals that are important right now and worthwhile of your time. It reinforces that you are working toward your long term goals and dreams.
Being relevant means being able to answer:
- What is the reason, purpose, or benefit of accomplishing this goal?
- Why is the result important?
- When is the right time to work on this goal?
T. = Timely
The “timely” section assigns a practical sense of urgency to each goal in relation to all other coexisting/competing goals. This also helps to establish prioritization of the goal within your semester schedule. It sets a very specific timeframe and deadline for goal completion. Without a timeframe you will lack your “must start by” date and without a deadline you will lack your “must complete by” date.
Being timely means being able to answer:
- When should I begin working on this goal?
- What is the deadline for accomplishing this goal?
- Does the deadline accurately reflect the urgency and prioritization of this goal?
I've written a goal, now what?
Throughout the semester, when facing decisions on your time or efforts, ask yourself, “does this take me closer to or further from my goals?”.
Each S.M.A.R.T goal represents a brick in the foundation of your pathway to academic success. Through these goals you will have a blueprint to follow throughout your course to give you structure and direction.
If you experience adversity while working on your S.M.A.R.T goal, don’t let this derail you. In these moments, evaluate what learning support centers or resources you may need. Then reflect on your S.M.A.R.T goals for any modifications that need to occur. Being a student can be demanding, let S.M.A.R.T. goals help lighten the load in times of adversity.
As always, reflect on and celebrate your successes. With each accomplished S.M.A.R.T. goal reward yourself and take pride in your development as a learner.
Looking for more strategies and tips?
Check out MUN's Academic Success Centre online!
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