Ensure Your Success: Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

By University of Arkansas Grantham

Has anyone ever asked you, "What are your goals?" Were you able to list a few? Have they followed up with, "How are you going to accomplish those goals?"

Goals give us something to work towards, something to look forward to, and something to keep us motivated along the way. For many, earning a college degree is a lifelong goal, one that can be achieved with a lot of hard work, dedication and proper planning. Establishing a clear path toward achieving your dreams is one part of goal setting that is most often overlooked. As Yogi Berra put it, "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there."

Creating educational goals will allow you to focus on your online degree program and use your time wisely. To help you begin, outlined below is the S.M.A.R.T. process for establishing goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

Specific — Specific goals are clear, focused, concise and well-defined. A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal.

  • General: I want to get my degree.
  • Specific: I am going to get my Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Grantham University.

Measurable — To measure your success, you need to establish timelines, dates, dollar amounts, number of credits, etc. Measuring your progress enables you to stay on track and reach your target dates; as a result, you will experience the feeling of success that will drive you on to achieve your goal.

  • Not measurable: I want to get my degree, someday.
  • Measurable: I am going to earn my Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Grantham University, by the summer of 2020.

Attainable — Ask yourself, "Is this goal important to me?" When you identify goals that are important to you, you begin to discover ways you can make them come true. You can accomplish most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a realistic time frame that allows you to carry out those steps.

  • Not attainable: My mom wants me to get my degree by next summer.
  • Attainable: I will earn my degree in Business Administration from Grantham University.

Realistic — A realistic goal is one that you are both willing and able to work toward.

  • Not realistic: I want to get my degree next month.
  • Realistic: I will take three classes a term and pass all of my exams to earn my Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Grantham University, by the summer of 2020.

Timely — Set a time frame for your goal; your goal should have a starting point and an ending point.

  • Not timely: I want to get my degree in a few years.
  • Timely: I am going to start tomorrow by enrolling in three classes a term at Grantham University and passing all of my exams to earn my Bachelor's degree in Business Administration, by the summer of 2020.

Factors to Ensure Success:

  • Your goals should be written down in positive terms.
  • Your goals should be posted in a prominent place, so you can stay focused. Hang them by your desk or on the refrigerator.
  • The goals need to be your own; what you want for yourself, not what others want for you.
  • Be flexible, your goals can and will change as your circumstances change.

"The person who gets the farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore." ~Dale Carnegie

About the Author

University of Arkansas Grantham
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