Despite outward attempts to hang on to summer, a new school year is exciting for students; it’s a blank slate, a chance to improve academically, socially and in extracurricular environments. In the past, I reevaluated my progress when winter hit and was occasionally disappointed. Sure, I was a busy and often happy student, but the goals I’d mentally set for myself when the school year began were too often uncompleted. (Sorry I asked for that guitar, Mom and Dad.)
Case in point: goal setting should always be goal writing. Writing down your goals gives them much better odds of being accomplished than they have when you simply think you’d like to do something… Skeptical? Harvard backs me up.
How to make sure your goals are made smartly: The SMART acronym, which my expedition group used daily in New Zealand to set our goals, is widely employed as a thorough way to make goals achievable.
S: Specific. More specifically, be specific. Know your goal inside and out.
M: Measurable. Be sure you have a way to measure your goal so you know when it’s completed. This can be surprisingly challenging because our goals often have intangible outcomes.
A: Attainable. Be realistic and honest with yourself. That’s not to say you should avoid challenges, but rather that you should consider whether your goal is even achievable. While a challenge can be exhilarating and highly worthwhile, working toward something actually impossible is just discouraging.
R: Relevant. Does your goal make sense for you? Is it relevant to what you want to accomplish or is it simply a desire? Sometimes our new endeavors surprise others and ourselves, and that’s okay as long as we see benefits in the outcome.
T: Time-bound. Give your goal a timeline and a deadline. Identify whether your goal is short-term or long-term and give thought to how long you will truly need to complete it. You can help yourself by breaking up a more challenging, long-term goal with short-term deadlines along the way that will come together to help you complete your overall goal.
* My additional tip: Share. If you have trouble staying on task… Once you’ve set and put your goal in writing, tell someone about it. Chances are you will feel even more accountable to accomplish your goal.
“A dream becomes a goal when action is taken toward achieving it.”- Anonymous
Creative Writing Specialist