Friday, January 21, 2011

Make Goals SMART

Students have a great difficulty defining their own progress toward success because they do not understand the value of setting goals.  I have adopted the ideas that goals should be SMART in order for students to set, define and accomplish goals. While also being able to measure their own progress and success.

S      Specific
M     Measurable
A      Action Oriented
R      Realistic
T      Time Bound

Students need to create that are straightforward and emphasize what they want to happen.
Specifics help the student to focus their own effort and clearly define what they are going to do.
Specific is the What, Why, and How of the SMART model.
  • WHAT are you going to do? Use action words such as direct, organize, coordinate, lead, develop, plan, build etc.
  • WHY is this important to do at this time? What do you want to ultimately accomplish?
  • HOW are you going to do it? (By…)
Ensure the goals they set are very specific, clear and easy. Instead of setting a goal to improve their grades, set a goal of increasing their GPA by 0.5 during the semester.

If they can’t measure it, they can’t manage it. In the broadest sense, the whole goal statement is a measure for the project; if the goal is accomplished, then there is success. However, there are usually several short-term incremental steps that can be built into the goal.
Students should choose a goal with measurable progress, so they can see the change occur. How will they see when they reach your goal? Be specific! “I want to read 5 books this summer before the fall semester begins."  This shows the specific target to be measured. “I want to be a better reader” is not as measurable.
Students must establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal they set. When they measure theirr progress, they stay on track, reach their target, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that will spur them on to continued effort required to reach theirgoals.

Action Oriented
When students identify goals that are most important to them, they begin to figure out ways they can make them come true. In other words they match the goal to their own actions. They develop that attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. They will begin to see previously overlooked opportunities to bring themself closer to the achievement of your goals.
Astudent needs to be able to determine how their own actions are married to the success or failure in attaining that goal.  The ultimate achievement is not based upon another persons abilities and therefore they eleiminate any possible scapegoat.
A goal needs to stretch them slightly so they feel they can do it and it will demand an an authentic commitment on their part. A goal of losing five pounds in a week is directly linked to their own choice of action.  Are they willing to take the proper steps to attain that goal: choosing the right meals, excercising daily, and maintaining their life balance. 
The feeling of success which this brings helps to remain motivated and on task toward that goal.

This is not a synonym for “easy.” Realistic, in this case, means “do-able.” It means that the learning curve is not a vertical slope; that the skills needed to do the work are available; that the project fits with the overall strategy and goals of the organization. A realistic project may push the skills and knowledge of the people working on it but it shouldn’t break them.
Students will devise a plan or a way of getting there which makes the goal realistic. The goal needs to be realistic for them and where they are at the moment. A goal of never again eating sweets, cakes, crisps and chocolate may not be realistic for someone who really enjoys these foods.
For instance, it may be more realistic to set a goal of eating a piece of fruit each day instead of one sweet item. They can then choose to work towards reducing the amount of sweet products gradually as and when this feels realistic for them.
Be sure thet they set goals that they can attain with some effort! If goals are too difficult they set the stage for failure, and sabotage their own success. Goals set too low sends the message that they don't think they are very capable. Help them to Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!

Time Bound
Students need to set a timeframe for the goal: for next week, in three months, by tenth grade. Putting an end point on their goal gives them a clear target to work towards.
If students don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague. It tends not to happen because they feel they can start at any time. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now.
The deadlines must be measurable, attainable and realistic.

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