Setting SMART Goals

It’s hard to believe that 2021 is in the rearview mirror, and the spring semester is underway. Whether your New Year’s resolutions are holding strong or they’ve started to waver, now is a great time for our students to set goals that will help them stay focused and motivated through the next several months. Educators and parents can all help support students to ensure their goals are SMART (that is, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) in order to stay on track and maximize results. Let’s dive in to what is means for a goal to be SMART, and review some examples of SMART goals for students.

What is a SMART goal?

By using the SMART framework, goal-setters transform vague wishes or desires into concrete plans, all by ensuring the goal has five essential components:

  1. Specific: Students should consider what, specifically, they want to achieve. Rather than saying, “I want to be a good history student”, they might identify, “I want to improve my letter grade from a B to an A”.
  2. Measurable: It’s important for students to know when they have achieved their goal, and how their progress can be measured along the way. Making a goal measurable is as simple as shifting from “I want to get to bed earlier” to “I want to go to bed by 10pm each night”. This change would allow a student to reflect each week and see how many days they did actually go to bed by 10pm.
  3. Attainable: Setting attainable goals doesn’t mean we don’t want students to shoot for the stars, it actually means that students are more likely to be successful! Instead of deciding, “I won’t let school make me stressed or overwhelmed!” a more attainable goal would be, “I will check in with the guidance counselor about my stress once a month.” The more students feel success in attaining their goals, the more likely they are to continue setting new ones.
  4. Relevant: If a goal doesn’t feel important, students won’t be compelled to work at it. Attaching a personal reason for a goal makes it relevant; for example, a varsity athlete might include wanting to perform well in their sport as a reason to better organize their time finishing school work.
  5. Time-bound: Keeping a goal within a certain timeframe gives students an endpoint to work towards. Once that “goal date” is reached, it’s a good time to reflect on what went well, (or where students struggled) so that their next SMART goal helps them feel even more successful!

Examples of SMART Goals

Now let’s consider what a complete SMART goal looks like!

The student looking to raise their history grade might say:

“I want to improve my letter grade in history from a B to an A by the end of the semester. To do this, I will meet with my teacher for guidance once a month, and meet with a tutor once a week to stay on top of the material.”

The student who is currently struggling to get enough sleep might set this recurring goal:

“I will prioritize my homework each day in order to avoid staying up past 10pm doing school work. To do this, I will spend 10 minutes before starting my work to organize my assignments by importance and due date.”

The student with perfectionistic tendencies may want to set a goal that helps them check in on their mental health:

“To ensure I’m managing my stress appropriately, I will meet with the school guidance counselor once a month until the end of the semester.”

The student athlete has a lot on their plate. This goal would help ensure everything gets done on time:

“In order to juggle varsity tennis and my academics, I will sit down with my organization and study skills tutor each weekend and plan when and how I will get my reading and assignments done for the week ahead.”

Larger projects are notoriously tough for students. This goal helps students learn to meet deadlines in a manageable way:

“I will break down the science project due before spring break into smaller components, and will complete one component each week.”

Students of all ages can benefit from turning their goals into SMART goals. By learning to set goals in a way that makes them successful, students have the opportunity to enjoy and celebrate many small wins throughout the school year, and build their confidence and self-esteem along the way. And when it comes to academic goals, Homeworks tutors are a great resource to help students stay on track and accountable. Remember, even if your New Year’s resolution has fallen by the wayside, it’s never too late to get SMART!

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