Setting SMART Goals
By Linda Pryor, Executive Director, The Center for Mission & Academics
The door into 2022 is just around the corner…and often the new year offers us a time to be more optimistic and hopeful about what lies ahead. We all have dreams about what we would like to accomplish in the year unfolding before us. This is a part of the human condition and dreaming is a good thing. Dreams are a start, then we need to turn them into reality by setting concrete goals. Goal setting provides focus. It pushes us to think more clearly about the best direction and the tools we’ll need for success. With this understanding, we can more easily and steadily begin to make progress.
Goal setting pushes us first to decide what’s important for us to achieve - it helps us prioritize and ultimately choose our direction. It also motivates us to move - to beat inertia and get started. Finally, goal setting can build confidence and add excitement to our daily routines.
At Brookfield Academy, we know how important it is to help students set goals for themselves as a way of working toward a new or improved skill or habit. This approach can aid students in attaining a higher level of accomplishment and learning to grow as individuals at one’s own pace.
We like to share the value of SMART goals with students at a young age but really, the structure of SMART goals works at any age.
When talking about a SMART goal, each letter stands for a criterion that must fit the chosen goal.
“S” stands for Specific. We want to make sure that the goal is narrow and well defined.
“M” stands for Measurable. When measurable, progress towards a goal can be tallied, counted, or tracked. So progress can be clearly seen.
“A” stands for Achievable. A goal should be attainable and realistic.
“R” stands for Record, Reveal, and Report. For this, the goal should be written down and shared. This helps improve focus and provides additional accountability.
“T” stands for Timely. There should be a clear timeline for steps toward, and ultimately achieving the goal. With young students, we start with smaller goals that can be reached in the near future. They develop a sense of competence and confidence. As students mature and they establish “larger” goals, they see progress in achieving each step along the way. If goals are laid out too far in the future or lack specificity, there is less immediate feedback and motivation. The excitement wears off and the goal is often forgotten.
As we move closer to 2022 and think of all the possibilities the new year offers, let’s see what we can achieve when we dream big and are SMART about our goals.