It’s pretty safe to assume that goal setting is something you already do naturally. As a goal setter, you may be familiar already with SMART goals. It’s a catchy way to remember how to self-assess whether or not your goal in its current form carries several components that can support its success.

What's the SMART goal framework? SMART goals are

  • S – specific
  • M – measureable
  • A – action-oriented & achievable
  • R – realistic
  • T – time oriented

In general, SMART goals are effective because they’re designed to be realistic, so you’re more likely to follow through and be successful.  They’re also designed to be measurable, so you’ll know when you’ve completed them and will be able to celebrate your accomplishment. It's important in all of this, however, to be sure that the goal you're setting is sufficiently challenging, too; goals that ask you to stretch and that require effort to be completed tend to be achieved at higher rates than those goals that are easy to accomplish.

Why set goals? According to Locke & Latham (2002), goals affect our performance by directing our attention and effort towards “goal-relevant activities and away from goal-irrelevant activities” (p. 706). Challenging goals in particular lead to greater effort and persistence through to the completion of the goal. As you’re goal setting, consider your values and priorities across all areas of your life. For example, you could set goals that are academic, career and work-oriented, or health and wellness-related, and these goals can be large and long-term, or small and short-term.

Wanting to achieve a specific grade or GPA, or turning in a project or assignment by a certain due date, are examples of common academic goals. What’s important in all of your forays into goal setting is that you also spend time considering the possible obstacles you may encounter and how you’ll navigate these obstacles when they arise (and/or how you’ll adjust your goal to hone in on its achieve-ability), and that once you’ve got your goal you make a plan and schedule out your steps, tasks, and important checkpoints along the way.

How can we help? Let us know! Come and talk with us: Waldo Hall 125 | Monday through Friday | 9 AM to 5 PM. No need for an appointment, just swing by and let us know how your goal setting is going. We can help you think about motivation strategies, planning tools and techniques, and more.

goal setting tips:

  • Break your goal into smaller tasks or action steps. These smaller steps make progress on the goal more manageable and give you a sense of accomplishment as you move closer to your goal.
  • Make goals with others (friends, family members, coworkers). If other people know about your goals or share the same goals, you create accountability for yourself.
  • Anticipate possible challenges. Obstacles and setbacks are part of life. For each of your goals, try to anticipate some of the challenges you may face.  Generate a list of resources that might help you overcome these challenges. 
  • Visualize your achievement. What will completing your goal feel like? Visualizing your accomplishments can help motivate you to make progress toward your goal.
  • Reward yourself. Having an incentive can be a fun way to motivate you to work hard to achieve your goal.
  • Manage your time. Use time management tools to help you organize your tasks, set aside time to work towards your goal, and track your progress.

Want to talk about this more? Want to set up a goal and a plan for your goal, but not sure how? Want to celebrate a goal that you’ve achieved, or talk through ways to tackle or refine or adjust your approach? Come and see us! Swing by the ASC in Waldo 125! We love to talk about goals, and about a lot of other things too, and often it can be really helpful to bounce ideas off a person and get outside your head to hear new perspectives.

Yes, you can totally do this. And yes, we can totally help.

download a SMART goals tool: