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SMART Method Goal-Setting for Students

SMART method goal settingSetting goals is a great way to find success in your education and your career

One of the important practices that many successful people use is the practice of setting goals for themselves. Setting goals is a way to make sure you are using your time wisely and directing your energy to the outcomes you want to achieve.

Have you ever set a goal for yourself? If not, now’s the perfect time to give it a try. Start out small and see if you can achieve a small goal. If you do, then set a slightly larger goal. As you achieve more and more goals, you may begin to understand why goal-setting can help you accomplish great things in life.

One way to structure your goal-setting is to use a popular method called the SMART method. Here’s how it works:

S: Specific
“S” stands for specific. Set a specific goal, such as “I am going to earn 80 percent or higher on next month’s anatomy exam.” This is better than setting a more general goal such as “I am going to study harder,” because it helps you focus your attention more clearly.

M: Measurable
“M” stands for measurable. Setting a measurement for your goal helps you to know whether you’ve achieved it. It gives you a clear target to shoot for.

A: Achievable
“A” stands for achievable. You want to start out small enough that you find success. If you are trying to go from being a C-student to an honor roll student in one month, that is probably not attainable, and you will just be discouraged if you set unreasonable goals.

R: Rewarding
“R” stands for rewarding. When choosing your goals, choose something that is meaningful and relevant in your life, so that you will feel a sense of reward when you have achieved it.

T: Time-bound
“T” stands for time-bound. Set goals that have a clear closure date. This helps you to target your energies, and gives you the sense of satisfaction when you’ve reached the end.

Once you have a SMART goal, how do you reach it? Reaching goals will take some work. Here are some tips for reaching your goals:

  • Set up a timeline with all the activities that need to be done before the goal is reached
  • Keep to-do lists and calendars to keep you on track
  • Identify obstacles that may be in your way and find a way around them
  • State your goal publicly to others, to help increase your accountability
  • Write your goal on paper and hang it somewhere that you see it every day
  • Each day, make sure you are taking steps toward your goal
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice from others

For more information on getting yourself organized and focused, try these organization tips for students. We hope these pointers will help you on your way to setting SMART goals in your education, career, and life. You will be at amazed at what you can achieve!

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The Harris School of Business provides student advice in its weekly blog. Find out more about our career-focused training programs by contacting us online.

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