Updated: May 16, 2020
It’s easy to tell yourself that you want to achieve straight A’s, but what steps have you put in place to make it happen? Simply writing out generic targets isn’t enough, you’ll need to create SMART goals if you want success.
In order to fulfil this, you’ll need to set objectives and create a roadmap for how you’ll reach your target. Most importantly, you’ll create deadlines so that you can mark your progress.
So, what are SMART goals?
In order to set a goal, it must be as specific as possible. For example, “I want to improve my grades in English,” is too generic. “I’d like to achieve a strong B in my final English Literature exam,” is better. The narrower your goal, the easier it will be to map out the steps necessary to achieve it.
Goals must be measurable, which means there must be some way of quantifying your progress. If we use the example above, identify what mark you would need to get a B in English Literature. It might then be worth setting yourself monthly practice papers, for example, so that you can see whether your marks are improving. By checking your grades regularly, it gives you an opportunity to re-evaluate and change your study method or resources if needed.
A goal must be attainable, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be easy. It means that the goal must be something achievable within the time allocated, with the resources available to you. For example, is getting a B in English Literature attainable? Has this been done before? What grade are you currently on? How much time have you got left before the final exam? These are all questions you’ll need to ask yourself to identify if the task is attainable. Furthermore, how much effort are you willing to put in to achieving the goal?
When setting goals for yourself, make sure that they are important and most of all relevant to you. Your goals should form part of your wider vision and objectives. If it’s not important to you to get that B in English Literature, then it’s unlikely you’re going to put the necessary work in to achieve it. So ask yourself, is this goal important to me? Why do I want to achieve it?
Every goal should have a realistic time frame. Setting deadlines for different stages of your goal will help create a sense of urgency and will provide motivation for you to complete it. It will also help you prioritise your goal over other activities or distractions. If you haven’t achieved your goal by the set deadline, it will also provide a good opportunity to ask yourself why? Was the deadline unrealistic? Were there any unexpected obstacles?
If you apply the above framework when setting goals in the future you’re more likely to achieve them. Have a go at setting some SMART goals and if you get stuck, just drop us an email! (firstname.lastname@example.org)