In revisiting the Art of S.M.A.R.T. the acronym for goal setting, created by the authors of the Keys to Community College Success, Carol Carter and Sarah Kravits whom coined the “SMART Goal – Achievement Plan;” where S is for setting a strategic goal, M stands for making sure the goal is measurable, A stands for making the it achievable, and R for realistic, and finally T which guides the user to set it all within a timeframe. Setting goals and attaining them are skills applicable to us all as lifelong learners.
I find this to be a simplistic but effective planning tool that is not only helpful but inspiring. I find it inspiring because I believe it will be helpful in not only for defining my specific goals but helpful in breaking the goal down into achievable concrete steps. This will help to alleviate anxiety and more importantly help with the “biting off more than you can chew” syndrome. I tend to set goals, such as in the case of wanting to run a marathon as describe in my earlier piece: for the marathon itself. Rather than setting the more achievable goal of relearning how to run first. One should start with the baby steps like stretching, jogging, endurance building and exercising. These baby steps will help me to feel successfull by completing one weeks’ worth of outlined goals on the road to a “pie in the sky” marathon. By patting myself on the back after a week of outlined goals I will build confidence slowly that I can attain my ultimate goal.
I also like this SMART system, because although outlined in the text for students and for goal setting related to educational and learning goals, as demonstrated with the goal of running a marathon it can be adapted to any and all goals. I can see this being utilized for goals like budgeting as well as for personal and relational goals. For example: I would like to be more communicative with my spouse. Specifically I would like to set aside time each week as a measurable goal. I would like for the time we spend to be at a time and location when we have no outside distractions, TV, work, electronics, family etc. This could be achieved by planning our monthly calendar together and setting aside two evenings per month when we are both free and available. Utilizing our calendar we would have made it measurable as well as achievable while at the same time setting a time frame for implementation. Thus setting a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and within a set time frame!
This goal is one that all couples regardless of age, longevity, or status could and would benefit from. The goal could grow and change, maybe adding specific topics to cover during those special evenings alone. Or specific topics could be named that are taboo for those evenings, such as kids,…. for those of us with children. Couples with children often find themselves only talking about the children and neglect talking about themselves. This tool would help hone the specific, measurable, achievable and realistic goals.
I challenge you to pick one small goal to utilize the SMART tool on. Once you have taken your small goal through the steps the second goal will be easier. By the third goal you will have memorized the steps and possibly will begin using these steps to help strategically break down and create a plan for obtaining even the most difficult goals.
Tara Ubelhor M.Ed., LP