Setting SMART Goals

When I talk with my students about goal-setting, I encourage them to think hard about their goals and really hone in on what it will take to reach that goal. I encourage them to create SMART goals, along with an action plan. Often, our thought process is general and vague - this leads us to set goals that we aren't going to meet, which is why people often give up on their New Year's resolutions. "Saving money" and "losing weight" are common goals that many people have, but these are example of non-SMART goals. Likewise, many students set non-SMART goals when it comes to their academics. SMART is an acronym that can help students set personal and academic goals. I break it down here: 

Specific: A goal of “getting good grades” is too general. Instead, specify what exactly will be accomplished. What grade are you shooting for? In what class? A SMART goal would instead look like “Raising my Geometry grade from a B- to a B by next semester.”

Measurable: Establish criteria for how a goal is to be achieved. If you have a measurable goal, it will be clear when you have met it. To have a goal to “be nicer” you won’t know when that goal is met. But if you say, “Talk to a new student each day” you will know.

Action-Oriented: Be proactive in order to attain your goals. Think about that goal and the steps you will take every day to reach it.

Realistic: Strive for an attainable goal. If you want to be captain of the basketball team, but you have never touched a basketball, think about a goal you should set before that.

Timely: Allow reasonable time to complete each goal and create a timeframe that keeps you on track. 

Of course, in order to follow up with these goals, you need to create an action plan. One of my students had a goal of getting above a 500 (signaling college readiness) on the SAT - so one of her action items was to stay after school and work with a teacher and other students on extra practice SAT problems. This action step was just as important as the goal itself!
Staying motivated to reach your goals is difficult - one way to help with that is to keep track of your progress as you go. If you want to get better at something, you have to put the work in. Making a daily commitment to your goal will help you in the long-run. A great way is to keep track of your goals on a calendar. Write down your goal and cross out every day that you work on it. By the end of the month or the year, you can see how many days you put in - with the hope that you didn't miss any!


Carmen R.

ELA/Reading and Math Tutor

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