When setting goals, it is important to have a clear vision for achieving objectives. The acronym S.M.A.R.T was adopted in the world of education, after originating in the project management field (Doran, 1981), to break down the core components of creating clear and reachable expectations and outcomes for specific goal-setting objectives (Lawlor & Hornyak, 2012). To be considered S.M.A.R.T., a goal must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound.
Specific: Goals should be clear and answer – What do I want to accomplish? Why is this goal important? Who is involved?
Measurable: To stay motivated and continuously track progress, measurable goals should answer the questions – How can I evaluate my progress towards this goal? How will I know when my goal is accomplished?
Achievable: To achieve successful outcomes, a goal should be realistic and attainable. In other words – Can I accomplish this goal, and how realistic is it based on the current situation?
Relevancy: Long and short-term goals must also be relevant, answering – How important is this goal, and is this the right time to implement it?
Time-bound: Finally, planning for outcomes is an important part of goal-setting. What will the outcomes look like in 4 weeks, 8 weeks, and beyond? Goals must have a clearly defined time frame, allowing for reflection and making changes to control outcomes and objectives.
Goal-setting with a clear vision for outcomes is an effective strategy for students’ academic and personal success. Clear intentions and careful planning assure that any objectives set will be achieved and goals will be reached. This process serves as a useful tool to facilitate students’ development of core executive functioning skills, bolstering a student’s ability to self-manage and remain focused, task-driven, and organized. Through creating S.M.A.R.T. goals, students can effectively author their own paths to success, and develop healthy, learning-centered student lives along the way.