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Setting Goals the SMART Way

Setting Goals the SMART Way

Setting Goals the SMART Way 150 150 admin

It is a common occurrence for educators to tell their students to set goals during the school term. However, just as common is the inability of students to meet all of the goals they have set for themselves.  This can lead to students becoming frustrated with the process of goal-making and subsequently lead to a lack of goal-setting.  Considering that goal-setting is very important to success, it is important to prevent this outcome by providing aids that can help students to reach every goal they set.

A good method of setting goals is the SMART method, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. This method is essential to the success of students’ goal setting process as it allows them to set several goals that they can realistically achieve and feel confident about. Below are the steps of the SMART model:


Often, goals are not achieved because they are too general. General goals are usually too vague to be able to keep.  For example, a goal such as “I will improve my math skills” is too general.  It does not give a student a good idea of what his or her action plan will be.  A specific goal would explain who, what, where, when, which, and/or why that goal exists.  A more specific revision of the above example would be: “I seek to improve my marks in math by learning how to do different word problems so that I can answer all of the questions on my next test.”


Once a specific goal has been set, it is important to ensure that the goal is also measurable.  This means that there needs to be a clear marker that shows whether or not the goal has been achieved.  To do this, vagueness on the “completion point” must be avoided. For example, instead of a measurement such as “My goal will be determined by how much I know about math,” it is much more appropriate to use: “My goal will be determined by the ability to answer all of the questions on the next test.”


The best goals are the most realistic.  Goals must be evaluated beforehand to ensure that they are achievable. Are the necessary resources and skills available to attain that goal? For example, many students would say, “I want to achieve a perfect score on my next math test.” However, if they had just failed their previous test, this goal does not seem very realistic at all. It would be better to say “I want to achieve a score of 70% on my next math test” instead, as it is much more likely to achieve.


Good goals should be able to relate to other, long-term goals that an individual may have planned.  It is much more motivating to complete short-term goals if they help advance or forward any long-term goals as well. For example, a student might set a goal to improve specifically on geometry or algebra in order to improve on his or her overall math skills. It is best to break the long-term goals into smaller sections or pieces to better achieve them.


When goal-setting, it is important to keep deadlines in mind.  When goal-setting, the objective needs to be due far enough into the future to give the student enough time to complete it, but not so far ahead that he or she have time to procrastinate on that goal.  For example, if a student are trying to memorize all of the mathematical formulas for the final exam, it is probably best to set the deadline for a few days before the exam, rather than the last day, since then the student would end up cramming for the test.

As proper goal-setting is an important step toward success in any area of one’s life, it is important to learn how to set realistic goals that are achievable.  Using the SMART model of goal-setting ensures that goals which are set will be achieved.  This boost of confidence can greatly help a student’s academic performance and encourage them to continue setting goals for themselves throughout their lives. Remember, be SMART about it!