Setting SMART Goals
By Courtney White, Stride Career Prep Success Coach
When you think about your goals, what kinds of things come to mind? If you are like many people you might be thinking about improving your grades, getting a summer job, or waking up earlier each day. If none of these are true for you, surely there are some other things you have imagined achieving. Any idea of the future or desired result you envision has the potential to be a goal.
Notice the words has the potential in the last sentence. This means simply saying “I want to go to college” or “I want to earn millions” are merely empty phrases. To be a goal, a statement must be accompanied by a plan to commit and achieve. As the famous saying goes, “a goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Think of goal setting as your roadmap for where you want to be and what you want to accomplish. Not only do goals provide you with direction, but they kick good habits and actions into high gear. Have you ever had a friend tell you the schedule for an upcoming trip or event that you couldn’t wait to attend? Remember that adrenaline you felt in anticipation for finally arriving so that you could have the time of your life?
Goal setting is a lot like that. Being fully involved in planning and participating in the details that are required to reach your destination. If when you think of your goals you don’t feel all that excited, that’s okay! You’re the author of your story, feel free to set new goals!
How to Get Started
To get started, try setting SMART goals. SMART goals are the age-old, fool proof way to create a plan you can follow and achieve while providing you with inspiration and motivation to continue along the way. SMART is an acronym that spells out the guidelines of this goal-setting practice; Specific, Measurable Achievable, Realistic, Time-Bound. Here’s an example: “I will become a nurse within six months after graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing.” Notice the wording is not “I want” but “I will.” “Will” is a statement of commitment and action. It gives your goal power right from the start.
The goal in the example of becoming a nurse is very precise right down to the type of degree that is needed. Progress toward this goal can easily be measured by the number of applications, interviews and job offers. It can even get more specific and measure the number of hours spent seeking out opportunities. The goal is achievable because the goal setter will obtain the specified degree in the goal. It shows relevancy because it aligns with the student’s plan and purpose to get a job in the preferred field. Lastly, it is time based because the goal setter has set a specific time frame in which to achieve the goal.
Are you making empty phrases “I want to get a job after high school”? Or are you setting powerful, intentional, action plans that will propel you right into your future, “I will become a computer engineer earning $75k annually within one year of graduating from Harvard University with a Bachelor’s of Computer Science degree.” No matter how big or small your desires are, once you set them with intention and a SMART plan; you’re well on your way to achieving anything you desire.
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