Motivation often means the difference between success and failure. That applies to school, to specific tasks, and to life in general. One of the most effective ways to keep motivated is to set smart goals. They can be big or small. The great thing about smart goals is that they can include and influence several other things that all work towards a much bigger picture.
Student goals need to be specific and represent an end result. They should also be SMART. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. When constructed carefully, a SMART goal will help you achieve an end result and support your decision making.
SMART Goal Description
- Specific — For a goal to be specific, it must be carefully defined. The goal of getting a good job when I graduate is too general. It doesn’t define what a good job is. A more specific goal would be something like identifying a hospital that recruits graduate nurses and have clear career paths.
- Measurable — To show effect, and report progress, goals need to be measured. What this means is that the goal should have clearly defined outcomes with enough detail to measure them. For example, setting a goal of doing well at university is a bit undefined, but making a goal of graduating with a grade point average (GPA) above 4.0 at university is measurable and something you can work with.
- Attainable — Attainable or achievable goals means they are reasonable and within your ability to accomplish. While a goal to complete six subjects in a semester and work part-time is something that would be nice to achieve, the odds that you could make that happen in a semester are not very realistic for most students. However, if you plan to complete three subjects this semester and work part-time it may well be more achievable.
- Relevant — For goal setting, relevant means it applies to the situation. In relation to the university, a goal of buying a horse to ride to for pleasure on weekends is unlikely to be relevant to your student goals, particularly if you live 100km from campus, but getting dependable transportation to the campus is something that would contribute to your success at university.
- Time-bound — Time-bound means you set a specific time frame to achieve the goal. I will get my paper written by Wednesday is time-bound. You know when you must meet the goal. I will get my paper written sometime soon does not help you plan how and when you will accomplish the goal.
Smart Goals Examples For Students
- Attain a leadership role.
- Attend all classes on time, no tardies.
- Attend seminars.
- Build a strong network.
- Build good study habits.
- Develop a reading habit.
- Find time to relax.
- Get as many scholarships as possible.
- Get involved in a mentor program
- Getting all A’s or all A’s and B’s
- Go to career workshops offered by your university.
- Have a part-time job.
- Improve Your Listening Skills.
- Improve your public speaking skills.
- Improve Your Time Management Skills.
- Professional knowledge and training.
- Learn a New Language Studying Abroad.
- Learn new things.
- Learn to stay offline for days
- Limit screen time.
- Listen actively.
- Make at least one friend
- Make time to read.
- Meditate for 5 Minutes Each Day.
- Meet new people.
- Publish an Academic Paper Before Graduation.
- Read one book a month.
- Start Networking.
- Take an Extra Challenging Course.
- Turn in all assignments.
- Visit With Each Instructor at Least Once Per Term.
- Volunteer Regularly.
- Walk 30 Minutes a Day, 5 Days a Week.
Smart Goals Examples For Students
|Goal||Is it SMART?||Comments|
|I am going to be rich someday||No||There is nothing specific, measurable, or time-bound in this goal.|
|I will graduate with a GPA of 4.0 by the end of next year.||Yes||The statement calls out specific, measurable, and time-bound details. The other attributes of attainability and relevance are implied. This goal can also be broken down to create smaller, semester or even weekly goals.|
|I will walk for 30 mins each day to help me relieve stress.||Yes||All SMART attributes are covered in this goal, explicitly or implied.|
|I would like to do well in all my courses next semester.||No||While this is clearly time-bound and meets most of the SMART goal attributes, it is not specific or measurable without defining what “do well” means.|
|I will earn at least a 4.0 GPA in all my courses next semester by seeking help from the Learning Advisor (Maths).||Yes||All the SMART attributes are present in this goal.|
|I am going to start being more organised.||No||While most of the SMART attributes are implied, there is nothing really measurable in this goal.|
The most important thing to do when goal setting is to write down the goals, then keep them visible and revisit each one every couple of weeks to make sure you are on track. Another useful approach to goal setting is to discuss your goals with a critical friend who will help you to be realistic and encourage you to achieve the goals.