SMART Goals: An acronym identifying the criteria for setting goals—specific, measurable, action-oriented,

SMART Goals: An acronym identifying the criteria for setting goals—specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound.
A general goal would be, “Get in shape.” But a specific goal would say, “Join a health club and work out three days a week.”
Specific—describes what you want to accomplish with as much detail as possible. If you establish vague goals, you lessen the possibility of attaining them. Describe the context (i.e., course, situation, or setting), as well as the specific outcome. Avoid general terms like “good,” “well,” “happy,” “understand,” and “know.”
Poor: “I want todo well in English.”
Better: “I want toearn an A on my next essay in English.”
Measurable—describes your goal in terms that can be clearly evaluated. If you fail to determine how a goal is measured, you will never know whether you attained it. Be sure to include a statement of the minimal level of performance that will be accepted as evidence that you have achieved the goal.
Poor: “I want tostudy my biology textbook.”
Better: “I want toread chapter 7 in my biology textbook andanswer all the discussion questions by Tuesday of this week.”
Action-oriented—identifies a goal that focuses on actions rather than personal qualities. Be sure to identify your goal so that it includes an action to be completed; otherwise, you will not know how to accomplish it.
Poor: “I want todevelop a better attitude about studying.”
Better: “I want tocomplete all my assignments before class each day andanswer the chapter questions for any readings.”
Realistic—identifies a goal you know you are actually capable of attaining. Goals can be challenging but unrealistic. Therefore, you must carefully analyze your goals to determine that you can reasonably expect to reach them. In thinking about general goal setting, there is some evidence that success-celebrating posts on social media such as images of a flawlessly fit body, perfect vacation, or a new car can pressure young people, particularly, to set unrealistic goals that can in fact bring about depression. Be sure to challenge yourself in goal setting but also be realistic. It is also important to be challenging but realistic in the academic context.
Poor: “I want toread five chapters in my history textbook this evening and answer all the discussion questions.”
Better: “I want toread two chapters in my history textbook this evening and answer all the discussion questions.”
Timely—identifies a goal that breaks a longer-term goal into a shorter-term goal(s) and clearly specifies a completion date.
Poor: “I want tograduate at the head of my class.”
Better: “I want to make the honor rollthis semester.”
An important task in goal setting is to determine how much time each long-term goal will take and to establish some smaller steps, or intermediate goals, that will help you reach your final goal. One way to accomplish this step is to use a timeline. Write your final outcome goal on the right-hand side and identify the smaller, process-oriented goals that will help you reach this major goal. Estimate how long it will take to attain each intermediate goal.
Examples of SMART Goals
The following are examples of academic, social, occupational, and personal goals. Notice that each one of these goals is specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound. Some of them also include both the outcome (what?) and process (how?) goal.
“I want to complete an advanced mathematics course next semester, achieving a final grade of at least a B.”
“I want to earn a 3.0 GPA this semester by using effective exam preparation and exam-taking strategies.”
“I want to complete all my research papers this semester one week before handing them in so I have time to edit them.”
“I want to meet new people this semester by attending a social event twice a month and introducing myself to at least two people at each event throughout this semester.”
“I want to volunteer at least five hours on Sundays by completing all my schoolwork between Monday and Saturday.”
“I want to spend at least one hour with my boyfriend/girlfriend each week this semester.”
“I want to work at least ten hours per week this semester.”
“I want to obtain an internship in public relations by the end of May by applying for at least one internship every week.”
“I want to complete all my general education requirements by my sophomore year.”
“I want to work out four times a week for 40 minutes throughout the current semester.”
“I want to save US$500 this semester by cutting back on expensive coffee drinks and buying my lunch at the supermarket at least two times a week.”
“I want to meditate at least three days a week by getting up 15 minutes earlier than usual.”
More about the value of meditation and how to do it in Chapter 5! Table 4.1 is a review of the procedures for writing SMART goals.
Procedures for Writing SMART Goals
Thought Process
Identify the area in which you wish to write a goal.
“I want to write a goal for my next composition paper.”
Evaluate your past and present achievement, interest, or performance in the area to consider the extent to which your goal is action-oriented and realistic.
“I have been having some difficulty in the course and would like to demonstrate some improvement in the next paper.”
State what you want to accomplish. Begin with the words “I want to” and include a specific outcome; describe the goal so that it can be measured and include a specific completion date (time-bound).
“I want to obtain a grade of A on the composition paper that is due on October 15.”
State specific processes or strategies you will implement that will support you in reaching the outcome.
Evaluate your goal statement. Is it a SMART goal (i.e., specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound)?
“I will earn a better grade by starting the composition paper early so I can create several drafts and turn in the final version. I will also seek help from the writing center to improve my sentence structure.”
“Because my grades have been low on other composition papers, it may not be realistic for me to move to an A on the next paper. I will set my goal for a A− and then move to an A.”
If necessary, make modifications in your goal statement.
“I want to obtain a grade of A− on the composition paper that is due on October 15 by writing multiple drafts and getting feedback from the writing center.”