SMART Goal Setting

SMART goalsGoals are powerful, precise statements about intentions. They are motivated by plans, dreams and desires, powered by discipline and maintained through commitment. When it comes to school studies we know that successful students routinely set achievable academic goals. Goal setting focuses the mind, forces you to be specific, and requires that you learn to prioritise, manage your time and make a commitment to completing tasks.

During the course of your daughter’s studies you may find that at times they encounter procrastination, low motivation, ill health, personal problems, and self-doubt. All these can be counter-productive to a student’s personal and academic progress.

However, applying the basic strategies of establishing realistic goals, prioritising tasks, and setting achievable timeframes can be very useful in getting back on track. If your daughter hasn’t used goal setting as a strategy before, term two may be the perfect opportunity for her trial using goals to reflect on her values and devise a plan to work towards those values. With your daughter’s successful achievement of a goal – no matter how small it may be – this will contribute positively to her sense of effectiveness as a student, boost her confidence and encourages her to keep achieving.

The process of setting goals is fairly straightforward and can be successful if it is a ‘SMART’ goal:

S = Specific: the goal needs to be specific. The more specific they are the more they motivate (e.g. walk for half an hour each day; spend one hour revising each unit per day).

M = measurable: establish the minimum level of performance required to ensure you have achieved your goal (e.g. walk for five out of seven days per week; revise each unit for one hour per day, six days per week).

A = attainable: whilst goals push you beyond your ‘comfort zone’ at times don’t set yourself up to fail. Attainable goals will increase your motivation to attempt them (e.g. before I set this goal I only walked three times per week or less; before I set this goal my approach to revision was unstructured).

R = relevant: be relevant to your long-term goals and values (e.g. fit in with long-term goal to maintain physical fitness; fit in with long-term goal to successfully complete units for this year).

T = timelinked: link your goal to a time frame to prevent it losing its significance when the day-today activities invariably take priority (e.g. each night between 5.00 pm–6.00 pm; by week 5 of term 2). 

On the ‘Student Wellbeing Moodle Page’ there is a sheet titled ‘Life Goals’ (under the heading ‘Goal setting’) to help guide a student’s evaluation of areas of their life that they could use goals to help realign their actions towards their particular values and long term goals.