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2. Set

In this activity…

Students identify a personal goal without the application of the SMART framework and brainstorm what might prevent them from accomplishing this goal.


Start the lesson by asking students to write down one goal (preferably something they want to accomplish by the end of the school year). For now, do not give them any direction or parameters to follow (i.e. do not mention SMART goals).

Once everyone has written down a goal, share the following statistics with the class:

  • 92% of people who set New Year’s goals do not achieve them (i.e. only 8% of people achieve their goals).
  • 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.  
  • 83% of the population does not have any goals, 14% have a plan in mind but the goals are unwritten, and only 3% have goals written down. Those with goals are 10 times more successful than those without, and the 3% with written goals are 3 times more successful than those with unwritten goals.

Give students 3-4 minutes to brainstorm why these statistics might be the case. Ask them to think about:

  • What gets in the way of accomplishing goals?
  • Why does it seem like a better idea to give up on a goal rather than persevere?
  • What might be necessary to increase goal achievement?
  • How might writing down goals lead to increased success?

Inform students that researchers have identified five key characteristics of goals that increase motivation and improve the odds of accomplishing goals. These five characteristics can be remembered using the acronym SMART.