What is a goal without a plan?
It is a new year and a great time for setting goals. We work with students all the time in the area of “Executive Functioning” skills development. A fancy word popular today not only at work, but in school. Of course you know what it means – getting organized! Developing these skills as a student will make you more efficient and productive at school.
When we teach our Study Skills 101 workshop we stress ten different core skills: organization; time management; note taking; discussion skills; self-advocacy; exam-prep; goal-setting; focusing; peer review; and research fundamentals.
Perhaps the most important of these skills is goal-setting. Whether it is in athletics, running a business, or trying to get into a great college, goal-setting is a key component to success. It is what drives you to succeed, and how you can judge your progress. In almost all of the group sessions we lead, we ask students to set “goals for the day.” It is just a micro-lesson in how bigger goals can be achieved by setting smaller goals, and reflecting on how you did, or did not, accomplish what you set out to do. We encourage students to make S.M.A.R.T. goals. It is a really nifty acronym that has been used for years in encouraging effective goal-setting. What does it mean?
- S = Specific. A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. If the goal is too broadly conceived, then you may always be able to rationalize that you achieved it.
- M = Measurable. You must be able to measure whether you accomplished the goal or not. With measureable goals you can also see along the way if you are on track, or falling behind.
- A = Attainable. Can you come up with a game plan to achieve this goal? Which skills and abilities can you develop to make this goal a reality?
- R = Realistic. Are you actually capable of doing what you have to do to achieve this goal? Also, based upon your experience, is this something that is reachable? We encourage you to think big, and dream high, but don’t set goals that are unrealistic. However, don’t shoot too low either. Only you can make this decision.
- T = Timely. You should have a deadline for this goal. We all work better with a set time to accomplish tasks. With the commitment of a deadline, your efforts will increase as the due date draws closer.
We also sometimes say that “T” can stand for “talk about it.” It is useful to tell your friends, your parents, or post it on your wall (Facebook or literally – on your wall) as you will gain additional motivation from others by making your goals public.
Goal-setting is key! In answer to the question at the top: What is a goal without a plan? Answer: A WISH.