Goal Setting – The SMART Edition
By Maryam Sheikh
Ever dreamt about reaching a goal, only to realize months later that you’ve made no progress? Fear not! Goal setting is a skill and requires smart planning. We can categorize goals as short-term goals and long-term goals.
Let’s start off by differentiating between short-term and long-term goals. A short-term goal is something you would like to achieve soon. For example, you might want to finish reading a novel by the end of the week. Short-term goals can stand on their own or can be steps towards a long-term goal. A long-term goal is a goal that may take longer to achieve (for instance, a year or longer). You can manage long-term goals by breaking them down into steps.
Following through with both types of goals requires discipline, accountability, resilience, and a positive attitude. Fulfilling a goal can be integral to your self-development and can provide you with confidence.
So, how do you get started? It can be useful to follow a guide such as the SMART goals guide. A SMART goal is a goal that is:
- Specific – You should set a goal that is clear and focused. For example, instead of setting a goal to be more fit, you can instead set a goal to learn how to play basketball by signing up for lessons. When thinking about the specifics of your goal, you should try to ask yourself why you are setting it. What is motivating you? Which tools or resources can be helpful?
- Measurable – Ensure that you have methods to measure your progress. This will help you stay focused, meet your deadlines, and alter your plans if necessary. You might ask yourself how you will determine when your goal is met.
- Achievable – While it is important to aim high, it is also important to understand which resources you have available and think about any factors that might cause you to alter your goal. For example, you might ask yourself if you have the time, financial means, and other resources to accomplish your goal. There’s always space to refine your goals as time progresses!
- Relevant – When setting a goal, you want to remain true to yourself. Does your goal fall in line with your other plans? Ask yourself if you are setting a goal because you want to achieve it, or if you are being influenced by others. It’s great to be motivated by friends, but make sure that your goals stay true to your character and aspirations.
- Timebound – Make sure to set a timeline for your goal. When would you like this goal achieved? To get to that point, what can you do every day to stay on track? What can you do every month or year?
Now that we have some considerations to think about when setting goals, let’s put them into practice! Here are some example goals (remember that they can be further fine-tuned!):
Short-term goal example: I would like to become more active to increase my physical and mental well-being this summer! To do this, I will plan to go outside at least five days a week. While outside, I will take walks, play sports, or meet friends. I will keep myself accountable by noting down my progress in a calendar.
Long-term goal example: I would like to improve my public speaking skills! To do this, I will practice writing speeches and presenting them to my family or friends. When I am assigned oral presentations at school, I will research my topics in advance, listen to examples of great speeches, and ask my teachers for feedback. In high school, I will plan to join a debate team. I will keep myself accountable by recording my presentations so that I can watch them back, take notes, and gather feedback.
Having a support system around you to cheer you on and provide moral support is important! Explain your goals to your family, friends, or loved ones and ask them to check in on your progress. Remember that it is okay if you fall behind! You can always modify your timeline to fit into your lifestyle. Good luck!
Mind Tools. “SMART Goals.” https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm