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1. Ready

What are SMART Goals?

SMART is an acronym and mnemonic device to remember five fundamental characteristics of goals that increase motivation and improve the odds of accomplishing a set of goals. SMART goals are:


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Specific: The goal should be well-defined, clear, and unambiguous.
Try addressing four of the five “W” questions with your goal:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is this goal important?
  • Who will be involved in accomplishing the goal?
  • Where do I need to be to accomplish the goal?
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Measurable: There needs to be a way to track your progress and measure your success.
Having a measurable goal will help you meet deadlines and stay motivated. It should answer questions such as:

  • How much? How many?
  • How will I know when I have accomplished my goal?
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Achievable: The goal needs to be realistic and something that you can achieve with the skills, resources, time, and energy that is available to you.
Setting unrealistic goals will leave you feeling unmotivated. When you are thinking about how achievable a goal is, ask yourself:

  • Do I have all of the equipment, skills, or knowledge needed to achieve this goal? If not, how hard is it to get access to those things?
  • What other responsibilities do I have? Given those responsibilities, how much time and energy can I invest in this goal?
  • What barriers might I face to achieving this goal?
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Relevant: To be motivated to achieve a goal, the goal has to matter to you.
The outcome of the goal has to be worth the time and energy invested in the goal. A relevant goal will align with greater life aspirations and will answer “yes” to these questions:

  • Does this goal move me towards the person I want to become and/or the life I want to live?
  • Is the outcome of the goal worth the time and energy I need to invest in achieving the goal?
  • Is now the right time to work on this goal?
  • Does the goal address or align with any of my other needs?
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Timely: Set yourself a deadline (i.e. target date) for when the goal will be accomplished.
This allows you to focus your effort, track your progress, and, if necessary, re-evaluate the goal. Setting specific dates for goals helps maintain their priority in your life and increases accountability. After setting a deadline for the final outcome, identify shorter timelines for micro-goals that work towards the macro-goal. Ask yourself:

  • What is a realistic timeframe for accomplishing this goal?
  • When do I want to accomplish this goal?
  • What can I do today?
  • What can I do by next week? Next month? Etc.


Why is it important to set SMART goals?

The SMART goal setting strategy has been adopted across a wide range of sectors, including education.
Studies have found Emery, M., Bush, C., Bounds, R., Gillett, B., Santen, S., & Aghera, A. (2014). 328 Enhancing Learning With Simulation: Setting “SMART” Learning Goals During Debriefing Improves Self-Directed Learning. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 64(4), S116–S116.
that setting SMART goals improves learning by leading to more self-directed educational action. Setting SMART goals is also
related to Lawlor, B., Hornyak, M. (2012). SMART Goals: How the Application of SMART Goals can Contribute to Achievement of Student Learning Outcomes. Developments in Business Simulation and Experiential Learning, 39, 259-267.
improved planning and execution of school assignments, higher school satisfaction, greater collaboration for group projects, and overall higher performance. Additionally, in both
school Johnson, C., Moore, E., & Thornton, M. (2014). A SMART Approach to Motivating Students in Secondary Physical Education: Editor: Ferman Konukman. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 85(4), 42–44.
and
healthcare Giroux, I., Vermeer, A., Lavigne-Robichaud, M., Azzi, S., Whebby, B., Barresi, T., Gravel, C., & Blaine, S. (2014). Relevance of SMART Nutrition Goal Setting as Part of Prediabetes Education. Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 38(5), S36–S36.
programs, the SMART goal setting strategy has been cited as a way to increase motivation and encourage a person to try harder for longer periods of time. SMART goals enhance clarity and focus by establishing boundaries around what, when, and how you are going to accomplish something.

Where can I learn more?

MindTools – SMART Goals: How to Make Your Goals Achievable

Edutopia – SMART Goal Setting With Your Students

Scholastic Blog – Setting (Almost) SMART Goals With My Students

What will students learn?

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to…

  • Explain what each letter of the SMART acronym stands for
  • Understand how the SMART goal setting strategy can be used to more accomplish goals
  • Evaluate whether a goal follows the SMART framework and develop SMART goals for those which do not
  • Break larger goals down into smaller steps and identify strategies to take those steps
  • Record, reflect on and evaluate goal progress and outcomes
References
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Emery, M., Bush, C., Bounds, R., Gillett, B., Santen, S., & Aghera, A. (2014). 328 Enhancing Learning With Simulation: Setting “SMART” Learning Goals During Debriefing Improves Self-Directed Learning. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 64(4), S116–S116.

Giroux, I., Vermeer, A., Lavigne-Robichaud, M., Azzi, S., Whebby, B., Barresi, T., Gravel, C., & Blaine, S. (2014). Relevance of SMART Nutrition Goal Setting as Part of Prediabetes Education. Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 38(5), S36–S36.  

Johnson, C., Moore, E., & Thornton, M. (2014). A SMART Approach to Motivating Students in Secondary Physical Education: Editor: Ferman Konukman. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 85(4), 42–44.

Lawlor, B., Hornyak, M. (2012). SMART Goals: How the Application of SMART Goals can Contribute to Achievement of Student Learning Outcomes. Developments in Business Simulation and Experiential Learning, 39, 259-267.

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