Tuesday, May 5, 2015

10: Establish S.M.A.R.T. Goals

At the beginning of each semester, I formulate for myself a list of goals I desire to accomplish. These are very specific goals, such as: “Bring three guest speakers to classes this term” and “Take students on two field trips this term.”

Other goals relate to my own personal and professional development, such as: “Smile more, and greet others each day, always” and “Read five economists’ blogs each week.”

To succeed, you must first know where you are going. While possessing long-term goals (e.g., you desire to become successful in a chosen career) is important, to make real progress you must establish shorter-term S.M.A.R.T. 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. Yet, establishing a clear path toward achieving your dreams is the 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 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 do well this semester.

Specific: I will attain a B+ or better in all my classes this semester.

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 will get more involved on-campus this semester.

Measurable: I will join and actively participate in two clubs or organizations by September 20th.

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: Even though I am shy, I will become the most outspoken person in my Business Law class this semester.

Attainable: I will volunteer to answer a question at least once a week in my Business Law class this semester.

Realistic — A realistic goal is one that you are both willing and able to work toward.
Not realistic: Even though I may have “down days” or may be feeling poorly, and even though I have never done this, I will smile and greet others at all times this semester.

Realistic: I will smile and greet others each Wednesday this semester, when I am walking around campus.

Timely — Set a time frame for your goal; your goal should have a starting point and an ending point.
Not timely: I will attend three events on campus that I would not normally attend.

Timely: I will attend three events on campus that I would not normally attend – one by Feb. 21st, another by Mar. 15th, and another by April 20th.

Factors to Ensure Success with S.M.A.R.T. Goals:
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 your refrigerator or by your light switch.

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. Revise your goals each semester, and during the semester if circumstances warrant.

Your Assignment:
Complete your S.M.A.R.T. Goals for the next semester (or the next few months). The form set forth below can serve as your guide, but use goals specific to your needs.
Once completed, post your S.M.A.R.T. Goals near your desk, or another place where you will see them every day.
Begin working on the accomplishment of your S.M.A.R.T. Goals.
Schedule an alarm on your smart phone, for a time to record your accomplishments.
Set aside time on your calendar, each week, to record your accomplishment of your S.M.A.R.T. Goals.
Each week record your progress.

§ My name is _____________________________________________________________.
§ These are my S.M.A.R.T. Goals to propel me to a higher level of success this semester: 
    S: Specific;   M: Measurable;   A: Achievable;   R: Realistic;    T: Time-Limited.
§ I have made a personal commitment to achieve these goals.
     I will concentrate on 2-4 goals each week. I will schedule time to accomplish these goals.
§ Each Sunday I will track (and record) my accomplishments on this sheet, and
        I will then establish times for accomplishing goals for the following week.

MY S.M.A.R.T. ACADEMIC GOALS                             √ when accomplished
I will achieve an average G.P.A. of _________ in all of my classes this term.

I will attend 90% or more of my classes this term.

I will be an active participant in class discussions.

I will go to the Student Success Center to receive help in the Math Lab.

I will go to the Writing Center to have my draft of my essays reviewed.

I will request a tutor or another form of assistance for a specific class or classes, if & when my average in a class falls below the avg. G.P.A. goal I set for myself

I will meet with an academic support specialist for assistance with time management or study strategies

I will meet with my academic advisor this term to discuss: (a) any obstacles to my ability to excel academically this term; (b) develop my course schedule for next term; (c) ideas relating to networking and finding a position within my chosen career; and (d) review a draft of my résumé.

MY SELF-CONTROL GOALS                                       √ when accomplished
I accept personal responsibility for my own success this term.

“9 hours 15 minutes” - I will consistently seek to attain sufficient sleep each night this term, as I may require, to not be drowsy in classes. I will set an alarm on my phone to remind me to prepare to go to bed. I will record my progress as to this goal, and record how I physically feel, through reflection in my journal, once each week.

I will plan out each week, using an hourly calendar, in order to attain 2-3 hours of study time, on average, for each hour I spend in the classroom.

If I have difficulty starting a project or activity, I will say out loud to myself: “Just do it! Do it, do it, do it! Do it NOW!”

I will spend < ____ hours each week watching t.v., playing video/computer games.

                                                                                              √ when accomplished
I will smile at all times, each and every Wednesday, when walking between classes and when entering a room.

I will greet others (including those I don’t yet know) on campus with a “Good morning,” “Good afternoon,” “Good evening,” “Hi,” or “How are you doing?”

I will introduce myself once each week to a student or other person I don’t know, and get to know them better (i.e., I will practice this essential skill).

I will join and participate in the following NCAA sports, intramural sports, clubs and/or organizations this term (at least one of which will require some form of civic engagement):



I will attend the following events / activities on-campus this term:








I will develop and maintain a list of potential contacts whom may be in a position to land me a good position within my chosen career area.

I will write in my Journal twice a week to record people and events and other things for which I am grateful.

I will write and mail/deliver thank-you notes 3 times a week to new and existing contacts, family members, friends, and those who have done a service for me.

I will perform 3 random acts of kindness each week, & record them in my Journal.

If I choose to go to parties or other places where alcohol may be served, I will go with a group, and at least one of my friends will be the “Designated Friend” (who will not drink and who will assume responsibility for watching over me, should I inadvertently drink to excess and possess impaired judgment).

I will revise my résumé this term to reflect all of my activities to date, and I will look for “gaps” in the résumé that need filling.

Dr. Ron A. Rhoades is an Asst. Professor of Finance at Western Kentucky University's Gordon Ford College of Business, where he chairs the (B.S. Finance) Financial Planning Program. An innovative, passionate teacher, he is the author of Choose to Succeed in College and in Life: Continously Improve, Persevere, and Enjoy the Journey (2014)from which many of these blog posts are derived.

Dr. Rhoades also serves as a consultant to the Garrett Planning Network, a nationwide network of independent, Fee-Only financial planners making competent, objective financial advice accessible to all people. He is the author of several books, dozens of articles, and he is a frequent speaker at financial planning and investments conferences. He is the recipient of many awards for his advocacy on behalf of the fiduciary standard. Dr. Rhoades is also a member of The Florida Bar, and he practices estate planning and transfer taxation for select current clients.

Dr. Rhoades and his wife, Cathy, reside in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

To contact Dr. Rhoades, please e-mail: WKUBear@gmail.com.

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