Alex Austin is a Graduate Administrative Associate with Engineering Career Services.
There is a lot going on during the semester! From classes to a social life, from job searching to clubs and activities. With everything you are trying to accomplish, it can be hard to keep it all straight. Setting goals is one way to make sure that everything stays on track. Rather than just trying to survive the semester, make it a time where you grow and reach new potential. The most effective way to set goals is to establish a SMART goal.
Specific - The best goals are the ones that are defined because most general goals end up being forgotten. Ever made a New Year’s resolution that you didn’t keep? Most often the error is that people say things like “I want to be healthier” or “I want to achieve good grades.” While these intentions are good, they don’t include a specific target. A better goal would be “I want to have __ GPA” because this gives a more concrete desired outcome. Afterall, how will you know you achieved your goal if it’s not specific?
Measureable - Put numbers on your goals. Using vague terms such as “improve”, “decrease”, or “change” are hard to keep track. Determining how much you want to change helps you to track your progress and keep pushing forward. Even though some goals will be difficult to quantify, try to find some action or measurement that you can include to help you know if you are succeeding.
Achievable - Is your goal realistic? Your goal needs to be something that will challenge and stretch you, but that ultimately is obtainable. Setting goals that are too difficult will reduce the likelihood of persistence and achievement because it is easier to tell yourself that it was impossible and to give up.
Relevant - When you are looking at big goals in the future, achieving smaller goals can help you along the way. Make sure that the goals you are setting are in line with what you want to become. If you find that you are setting goals that have no relation to your future, you may want to take another look. Use your momentum to move step by step through little achievements instead of trying to make giant leaps.
Timely - Are there timelines for your goals? Now that you have specific objective that you want to achieve, make sure you know by when you would like to achieve them. Having a specific goal without a timetable offers very little incentive. Beat the urge to procrastinate by breaking down your goal into manageable “mini-goals” and setting up a specific timeline.
You can achieve difficult things with planning! Set your mind to it and keep track of your progress using SMART goals. These goals will help you hold yourself accountable for achieving small and large wins this semester.
“A dream becomes a goal when action is taken toward its achievement.” – Bo Bennett