SMART Goals: Step by Step You Can Find Success

Setting goals can pave the way to better achievement

Have you ever set a goal for yourself and successfully achieved it? If so, you know the satisfaction of a job well done. One common trait of many successful people is their belief in setting goals. Goals help you to define what your priorities are. They help you to focus your efforts on reaching a specific target. And they give you a feeling of accomplishment when you have achieved them.

If you’ve never tried goal-setting, then now is the perfect time to get started. The first step is to start out small. Setting too large a goal can be intimidating. For example, if you’ve never put on a running shoe, then don’t set a goal of running a marathon. Instead, set a goal of running a half-mile three times a week for a whole month. Then slowly build yourself up to longer distances.

Ready to get started? One great way to create goals that are challenging yet achievable is to use the SMART method. Try this out:

S = Specific goals
When setting a goal, the first thing to do is to make sure it is specific. If your goal is too general, you won’t know when you’ve achieved it! For example, “study harder” is too general a goal. Instead, your goal could be to “earn 80% or higher on the next physiology exam.” This is more specific and gives you something concrete to work toward.

M = Measurable
You want your goal to be something that you can measure. Rather than saying “I want to be more disciplined about studying,” you can set a goal that you can measure, like “I will study from 3:00 to 5:00 every Monday through Friday for one entire month.” This way you can tell if you’ve met the goal.

A = Achievable
It’s important to set a goal that is challenging, yet still possible to achieve. If you are currently getting C’s in most of your courses, it’s probably not possible to jump to A-plusses right away. Instead, set your target at earning B’s, and once you get there, you can aim for the A’s. Setting goals that are too big a stretch can backfire if you get too discouraged and give up. Make sure your goal is achieveable.

R = Rewarding
One of the most important parts about goal-setting is getting to the reward. You should set goals that are meaningful to you, so that you will feel a sense of accomplishment and reward when you achieve them.

T = Time-bound
As you are setting your goal, put a deadline on it. This way, you can better focus your time and energy to achieve your goal by a certain date. Once the date arrives you know whether or not you achieved the goal!

To help you achieve your SMART goals, you will need to be dedicated and persistent about staying on track. Here are some suggestions to help you reach your goal:

  • Get organized and set a timeline to track everything that needs to be done to reach the goal
  • Put key dates and reminders in your calendar
  • Update your to-do list every day; take at least one step toward your goal every day
  • If you aren’t meeting your preliminary targets, find out what’s going wrong and find a way to fix it
  • Share your goal with others…this helps you be more accountable
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help from others when needed
  • Write your goal on a post-it note and hang it where you will see it every day

With these tips in mind, what do you think? Are you ready to set a SMART goal for yourself? It never hurts to give it a try, and you may find that you are amazed by the results!


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