Smart Goals

When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true.


Clearly define what you are going to do. Provide enough detail so that there is no indecision as to what exactly you should be doing when the time comes to do it. .A goal of: "Study English" is poor. Should you be reading your text? If so, what pages? Or should you be looking over your lecture notes? A much better goal would be: "Learn five spelling and vocabulary words per night, create flash cards, and review them ten minutes per day."


If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. Your goal should be such that when you are through you have some tangible evidence of completion. It feels good to see something there in front of you indicating a job well done. Equally important, you will be able to prove to yourself that you were successful and your time wasn't wasted.  Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress to your goal.

Which is going to raise your grade?

Passive-- minimal effort. Active-- understanding how your brain works and acting on it.

"Read Chapter 3" or  "Use a highlighter to Read Chapter 3"

"Read Chapter 3 and then write a summary from memory"  or "Read Chapter 3 and then copy a few  key quotations into your note book you might see on a test."

Result-- opened book and turned pages some marked with highlighter that you will never go back to again. Result-- summary allows you to see how much you understand or quotations remind you of the key elements of the chapter for a test.


 A goal needs to stretch you slightly so you feel you can do it and it will need a real commitment from you.  Your goal should be set by you rather than by someone else. You know best your strengths and weaknesses, and can use this information to maximize your chances of success.  Can someone actually make you study in a specific method if you don't want to? You have to decide to be an "Above Average, Average, or Below Average student-- then do something about it.


This is not a synonym for "easy."  Don't plan to do things if you are unlikely to follow through. Better to plan only a few things and be successful rather than many things and be unsuccessful. Success breeds success! Start small, with what you can do, experience the joys of meeting your goal, and only then gradually increase the amount of work that you ask of yourself. Setting goals in which every minute in the day is accounted for is unrealistic; unplanned events will crop up and wreak havoc with your schedule. Give yourself some flexibility.


Without a time limit, there's no urgency to start taking action now.  Time must be measurable, attainable and realistic.  Say when you plan to work at your goal, e.g., between 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. Anything that will take you more that two hours to complete, break into smaller, more manageable chunks.