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Goal Setting Guide: What Kind of Goals To Set: SMART Goals!

Goal Setting Guide: What Kind of Goals To Set: SMART Goals!

Well, now you know why you should set goals and how to actually do it. Congratulations! You’re on your way. But knowing what kind of goals you should set is also important. After all, anyone can say, “I’d like to do better this semester!” That kind of goal is too broad; how will you know exactly when you’ve achieved it?

This section will teach you how to set SMART goals!

I know *I* loved little acronyms in middle school and high school. Let’s bring them back 😉

S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based. Let’s break that down a little:


If you want to be successful, you need to make your goals specific. Goals are often too vague or loose, making it hard to know if you have actually achieved anything.
Bad example: “Get better grades”
Better example: “Improve my GPA to 3.7 by the end of this semester”


In addition, your goals need to be quantifiable, meaning that you will be able to calculate whether or not you have achieved it. To make it measurable, be sure to include an amount or percentage in your goal.
Bad example: “Make an effort to meet new people”
Better example: “Get one meal a week with someone new”


Your goals need to be something that you can realistically achieve. If, going into your final exam, you need to get a 145% on the test to get an A, then getting an A isn’t a realistic goal. Achievable to one person may not be for another, so when setting your goals makes sure that you pick something that is possible and that pushes you beyond your comfort zone just a little bit!


Set goals that are important to you AND make sense with everything you have going on at the time. Let's say you are taking four classes that require a ton of reading.
Bad example: Read 2 books for pleasure every month
Better example: Complete all assigned class readings before discussed in class
This goal still focuses on reading, but instead shifts it to something that supports your class load rather than distracts from your academic priorities.


Finally, your goal needs to have a deadline attached to it. Give yourself a deadline for completion so that you can create a sense of urgency for yourself.
Bad example: Do not procrastinate on senior paper
Better example: Write at least fifteen pages of senior paper before October 15

Finally, notice that the better examples all start with an action verb. When writing your goals make sure to include the specific action needed for success.