Last semester, I got an assignment to develop a SMART goal which is something that I thought shouldn’t have been too hard because I actually enjoy setting goals and watching them come into fruition. Apparently, I was wrong! I knew what I wanted to accomplish, but as far as making the plans to get there, I sucked. Gladly, my instructor worked with me and helped me get better at it, but I do think that it’s a practice, which is why I plan to set SMART goals until the end of time! (yeah, I know, I’m corny) First of all, what is a SMART goal? So basically SMART is an acronym, it stands for:
Let’s Break It Down
Your goals should be specific meaning instead of “I want to make good grades this semester”, say something like, “I want a 3.8 GPA this semester”. Do you see the difference? Being specific allows you to identify why this goal is so important which will serve as your motivation when you find yourself in rut.
Which reminds me…knowing the difference between extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation is important. Extrinsic motivation refers to having a drive towards external rewards, like wanting to make a lot of money or wanting to be famous. Intrinsic motivation is something that you find to be truly satisfying–something that’s internally rewarding. Personally, I think when career planning I want to set my goals based on intrinsic factors because it would truly suck to end up doing something that I don’t actually like. However, sometimes, we do have to do things that are based around extrinsic motivations and that’s okay too.
You have to know whether you’re on track to achieving your big goal if you don’t have mini goals built within? Let’s go back to the original example: “I want a 3.8 GPA this semester”, okay so what steps need to be taken to get there? The mini goals might look something like: “Create a disciplined study schedule and go to SI sessions. ” Once you tackle the mini goals, you should be on the right track to conquering the big one.
Let’s say you’re a freshman in college and you say you want to obtain an MD by 2019. That’s not an achievable goal. Goals are supposed to pose a bit of a challenge but they should not be impossible.
Does the goal make sense? Is it worth the time? If yes, then go for it! You don’t want to dedicate time to something that you don’t truly want. Let’s say, you want to become the president of the SGA not because you’re passionate about working to better the school on behalf of your peers, but because you think it’ll look good on your CV. You end up winning the title and realize the amount of work it requires isn’t worth the output you’re expecting. This kind of goes back to our discussion of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The way I see it, this wouldn’t be a reasonable goal. You should be working towards somethings that you truly enjoy.
When do you want to achieve this goal? By the end of the semester, next month or next year? Having a deadline can help you maintain focus of your goal because there’s a sense of urgency there. You know, like that feeling we get when we constantly put off starting a project and then we open up our planners and bloop, the assignment is due in the next week or so.
Below is a running list of goals that I want to accomplish this school year, and I’ll be using the SMART goal format to do it:
- Master a recipe
- Start going to the gym regularly
- Manage money
- Plan meals
- Have a set day schedule
- Have a disciplined study schedule
Join 2 clubs
- Start a club
- Complete at least 2 DIY projects
- Purchase domain for the blog
Complete Personal Statements for Summer programs
- Use ACS book for Chemistry practice throughout the semester
- Dedicate Sundays as Reading or light days; not a day to frantically complete assignments
- Stay hydrated throughout the day
- Learn how to use Photoshop and Illustrator
- Vision Board!