“Success is not a goal that you set for yourselves; it is a product of achieving the goal.”
The first thing every successful person needs is to have a goal. We all seek success and we all know that nothing comes easily. We spend our lives chasing success but we first need to define our goals. Once that is done, it’s time to start thinking about how to accomplish them.
With that in mind, we wanted to offer a basic goal-setting primer. You can find plenty of advice online but below are basic principles that you can all practice:
1) It’s a dream until you write it down and then it’s a goal.
– If you have not prepared a list of things that you’d like to accomplish then start by making it now. Brainstorm your ideas and throw anything on the list that you feel is important — you don’t actually have to do them all. This is just to make sure you don’t miss anything.
2) Accomplish one goal, and then set the bar higher.
– The key to simple goal setting is not to have too many goals.Keep things as simple as possible and allow your energies to focus on a small number of goals; making you far more effective with those that matter the most.
3) Make your SMART goal now
– This is an acronym, as you probably know, and it can be interpreted in various ways by different teachers. Whether a student’s goal is to get on the honour roll or to get better grades than the previous academic year, SMART goals can help. When used to good effect, the use of SMART goals can help you determine why you have not received good grades. Are you not completing assignments on time? Are you not getting enough sleep?
a. Specific—your goals must identify exactly what you want to accomplish in as much specificity as you can muster. Usually answers the 5 W’s:
- *Who: Who is involved?
- *What: What do I want to accomplish?
- *Where: Identify a location.
- *When: Establish a time frame.
- *Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
- *Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
b. Measurable—as the old adage says, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” If possible, try to quantify the result. You want to know absolutely, positively whether or not you hit the goal. Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set.
- When you measure your progress, it helps you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to the continued effort required to reach your goal.
- To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as……
- How much? How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
c. Attainable – When you identify which goals are the most important to you, you begin to figure out ways that you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities that would bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals. You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you build your self-image. You see yourself as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.
d. Realistic- To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be; but be sure that every goal represents substantial progress. A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force.
e. Timely – A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs, when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, “by December 31st”, then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal. Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. Additional ways to know if your goal is realistic is to determine if you have accomplished anything similar in the past or ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal.
4) Write them down. This is critical. There is a huge power in writing your goals down; even if you never develop an action plan or do anything else (not recommended). Henriette Anne Klauser documents this in her fascinating book, Write It Down and Make It Happen. When you write something down, you are stating your intention and setting things in motion.
5) Review them frequently. While writing your goals down is a powerful exercise in itself, the real juice is in reviewing them on a regular basis. This is what turns them into reality. Every time you review your goals, you ask yourself, ‘What’s the next step I need to take to move toward this goal?’ You can review them daily, weekly, or monthly. It’s up to you. The key is to let them inspire and populate your daily task list.
6) Share them selectively. Many advise to share your goals with everyone but in 2010 TED talk, Derek Sivers makes the compelling case that telling someone your goals makes them less likely to happen. So do not share them with anyone who is not committed to helping you achieve them (e.g., your mentor, mastermind group, etc.)
Example of SMART Goals for Students
Earn Better Grades
Whether a student’s goal is to get on the honour roll or get better grades than the previous academic year, SMART goals can help. It is an efficient way of helping students determine why they might have received grades that they weren’t satisfied with in the past. Were they not completing assignments on time? Were they not getting enough sleep? For this example we will use a student who failed to complete assignments on time the previous year, which contributed to the lower grade attained.
Poorly Defined Goal: Get good grades.
SMART Goal: During the first marking period, I will complete my coursework during the hours of 6 and 7 p.m. on weeknights at the desk in my bedroom. After completing the assignment, I will put it in its appropriate folder and into my backpack. At the next opportunity I will consult with my academic supervisor and ask for feedback on the assignment before deciding if there any improvements that I could make to the assignment before submitting it. I will revise this goal after receiving my first marking period report card.
- Specific: The goal addresses what you want to accomplish and answers the 5 W’s.
- Measurable:The goal specifies when and how often the behaviour will occur, it is easy to measure whether you did it.
Attainable: This goal is realistic because it specifies “weeknights” and not every night of the week. It is also attainable because it is only one hour a night. It’s not asking that you change your lifestyle or get
- straight A’s. (The amount of time may need to be increased for older students and decreased for younger students.)
- Relevant: For a student whose incomplete homework was resulting in lower grades, this goal is relevant because it leads to completed homework.
- Time-bound: The goal names specific times when the student will study and how often. It also specifies the marking period so that the goal can be revisited and readjusted depending on the results of the student’s report card.
Be More Organised
Being better organised can lead to greater academic success. Does the student have a messy desk, locker, bedroom, backpack, or all of the above? Help the student determine what areas need to be organised and start with one of them.
Poorly Defined Goal: Get organised.
SMART Goal: At the end of the first day spent at academia, I will organise my backpack by creating a folder or binder for each of the modules that I am studying; with places to keep my assignments, notes, and project work. After my backpack is organised, I will spend 10 minutes each day when I return home (during term time of the academic year) to go through the items in my backpack to make sure that they are in their proper location. I will then dispose of any items I do not need or that do not belong in my backpack.
- Specific: The goal addresses what you want to accomplish and answers the 5 W’s.
- Measurable: The goal specifies a specific time of day to do the task, how often you will do the task, and how long you will take to do the task. All of these are measurable.
- Attainable: This goal is realistic because it is focusing on one area, not every area that needs to be organised. It also does not require a large amount of time.
- Relevant: The goal is relevant to the life of a student who needs to become more organised.
- Time-bound: The goal is time-bound because it sets parameters of when the goal will take place and the duration of the task.
What other SMART goals you could set for the studying year?
Remember! The practice of goal-setting is not just helpful; it is a prerequisite for happiness. Psychologists tell us that people who make consistent progress towards meaningful goals live happier, more satisfied lives than those who don’t.
If you don’t have written goals, then make an appointment on your calendar to work on them. You can get a rough draft done in as little as an hour or two. Few things in life pay such rich dividends for such a modest investment.