Wednesday, April 13, 2011

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Hello ELIfe Faithful! My name is Shaun. I am a NOVA student with plans to transfer to a four-year institution upon earning my A.S. in Social Science. This is my primary goal here at NOVA. So that I maintain a course to achieve this objective, I have adopted a goal setting strategy using the acronym S.M.A.R.T. These five letters represent aspects of goal setting that clearly identify and define the initiatives you create and hope to accomplish. They are as follows:

Specific - A specified goal has a greater chance of being accomplished rather than a general goal. To specify a goal, it helps to answer the six "W" questions:

1. Who? Who is involved?
2. What? What is it I want to accomplish?
3. Where? Identify a location.
4. When? Establish a time frame.
5. Which? Identify requirements and constraints.
6. Why? Specify reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

Measurable - Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you identify. When progress is measured, it is easier to identify the short-term goals achieved. To determine if a goal is measurable, ask these questions: How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?

Attainable - When important, measurable goals have been identified, begin to plan means of making them come to fruition. Develop attitudes, abilities, skills, and the financial capacity to achieve them. Most goals are attainable with wisely planned steps and an established reasonable time frame within which to carry out these steps.

Realistic - To be defined as relevant and realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. Make certain each step reached within a goal indicates measurable and significant progress. A means of determining how realistic a goal might be is to ask yourself if you have accomplished a similar goal previously or by asking what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal. Any goal is most likely realistic if you believe it can be accomplished.

Time-Bound - A goal should be grounded within a specific time frame. This contributes to the discipline and structure necessary to achieve any goal.

This comprehensive strategy has helped me remain on course to complete my degree and, ultimately, my goal here at NOVA. I hope it helps you too! Check out the Goal Setting Guide for more about S.M.A.R.T. goals.


  1. Shaun, I really liked your guide on how to set strong goals. I will try using this. Sometimes even when I set goals, I have trouble actually following through on them. Do you have any suggestions on how I could work on that?

  2. I would recommend keeping a journal detailing what your goals are and for each day, narrow your focus on what step(s) you might take to achieve one of them and also, a statement that reiterates why the goal is important to you.
    For example, if your goal is to pass your upper level accounting class to increase your marketability, your goal may be to master the lessons in today's class in order to pass which ties into your overarching goal of getting a better job.

  3. Kemper, try to deconstruct the larger, final objective into smaller, manageable goals. Another key is to reward yourself with each success along the way. I hope this is a start for you. Enjoy!


  4. Shaun, that does seem like a good place to start. I've been doing a bit of thinking today and realized that I actually achieve quite a few of the ones I set--there are just one or two stubborn ones I haven't been able to accomplish easily. I think I'll try both your suggestion and Erika's, the breaking them into smaller goals will make them more achievable, and perhaps if I journal about them, it might help me figure out where I am breaking away from them.

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