We all have different fields in life where we would like to grow, be it getting a better job, improving our health or finishing college. Unfortunately, most of us get thrown off course when we try to build a professional as well as personal growth plan. As a student, it is important to set SMART goals and prioritize them. It is natural to think of our future as a surplus of vague dreams. However, this is not effective for your personal development. This is why setting SMART Goals for students is highly recommended.
Apart from this, smart goals help you keep track of your achievements. Moreover, as a student, you can allocate your precious time and resources efficiently.
Many students aim to get a lot done but actually accomplish very less. College students fail to understand that they must picture their future in the form of concrete goals. Understanding how to set SMART goals early in life will enable them to use their time and resources productively.
What Are SMART Goals for Students?
From an academic point of view, students can improve their performance by being accountable for their failure & success. In fact, students expect to have a feeling of success and confidence for enhanced productivity. Smart goals help achieve this feeling as students have a clear picture of their destination.
Time management is an essential ingredient to achieve success in life. Click here to read more about time management tips here!
The smart in SMART goals is actually an acronym. It stands for, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. Let’s understand what they mean individually:
Specific goals define clearly what needs to be achieved in order for the goal to be accomplished. The more clearly you define a goal, the less there is a chance for any misinterpretation of it. Be it finishing a paper, composing a personal statement for an internship or completing research for a larger project, the more specific you get, the better will be your long term results.
A few examples of Specific goals for students are:
a) Write a research paper for the conference.
b) Write more papers.
In this case, (a) is considered to be a SMART goal because it clearly specifies the goals in terms of what needs to be done to accomplish it. Whereas (b) does not specify any details. Merely writing more papers can not define what you plan to achieve but writing research papers for a conference is more specific.
Measurable goals determine to quantify the parameter which needs to be fulfilled in order to accomplish your goals. So to put this into perspective, eating healthy is not a measurable goal, but eating greens twice a day is.
a) Finish reading 12 books this year.
b) Read more books.
In this case, (a) is considered to be a SMART goal because it quantifies the goal. Whereas (b) is not measurable at all.
Setting attainable goals means setting goals that are realistic in nature. Attainable goals utilize your abilities and at the same time, are possible to accomplish. So to set attainable goals, consider the availability of resources, knowledge as well as time and decide which goals are realistic and plausible.
a) Cycle 6km between home and campus every day
b) Walk 50km every day
In this case, (a) is an attainable goal because cycling 6km every day is achievable. But (b) is a highly unrealistic goal because walking 50km every single day is not possible.
Goals need to be relevant to ensure they help you in achieving your ultimate goal. In simple words, your goals should be relevant to what you are aiming for in the bigger picture. Even if a goal might seem beneficial, if the timing is not right, achieving it will add no benefit to your overall growth.
For example, students might go to college with goals in mind that are influenced by their parents, not their own decision. That often results in them lacking the motivation to take the required steps forward. Instead, relevant goals will be if they took the time to figure out goals that felt personally applicable to them.
Time-Based goals specify the time frame within which the goal needs to be accomplished. This not only motivates a person to work harder and meet the deadline, but also achieves the overall goal faster.
a) Finish writing 10 papers in 4 weeks.
b) Write more papers.
In this case, (a) is a SMART goal because it specifies the time frame and puts a deadline for meeting the target. Whereas, (b) is neither defined nor time-based.
How To Set SMART Goals?
Despite its efficiency, implementing SMART goals is one of the least used strategies by students and professionals. This is mainly because most people are not aware of how to set SMART goals. As a student, learning how to set SMART goals during each term will help you in staying on top of your game and make the most of your education.
Here are a few tips related to smart goals for students.
1. Set a Goal for Grades in Each Class
It goes without saying that students want to strive to do their best in every class. However, there are a number of factors that may impact how they perform in each course. Taking into account the subject and the level of the class, set a SMART goal for a grade you think you will earn for sure if you work hard. Then, spend a reasonable amount of time achieving this goal.
2. Create A Schedule – part of SMART Goals strategy
Once you have figured out how to set SMART goals, it is easy to start working on them. However, staying on track is much harder than it appears to be. It is quite common for students to lose their focus and find themselves less involved in their studies.
To avoid such situations, it is better to create a schedule and ensure you follow it. A schedule will define your goals and targets clearly. Hence, you are less likely to lose focus.
3. Regular Check-Ins: a SMART Goals example
Goals cannot be achieved overnight. It will take time to cross that finish line. And for that, the goals have to be worked on regularly and consistently.
This is the reason regular check-ins need to be established. It will ensure you are on track and making progress in a steady manner.
4. Celebrate Small Wins
Lastly, no matter how small your achievements might be, learn to celebrate! It is normal to celebrate only when the main goal is accomplished. But acknowledging smaller wins will encourage you to work harder.
And also it will ensure you are going in the right direction. In simple words, it keeps your motivation levels high.
So the next time your brain wonders how to set SMART goals, just remember that setting SMART goals is not that difficult. All you need to do is follow one step at a time, filling out one letter of the acronym after the other. Do not put yourself under the pressure of getting it right at the very first attempt. Try until you figure out what works best for your situation.
Read also about teamwork skills. In addition to setting up smart goals in life, students must focus on working in teams to foster top leadership qualities which is essential for overall growth and success.