Originally published in the Kenosha News
By Vickie Leflore, Youth Development Extension Educator
The new year often brings about a plethora of resolutions or goals for the upcoming year.
During this time, many focus on some type of life improvement. Focusing on specific areas to start a new year can be beneficial; however, it is important to establish a plan of action to increase the likelihood of actually achieving your goal or resolution.
One common method used to set goals is using S.M.A.R.T. Goals. Setting SMART goals helps with avoiding distractions that often happen when trying to achieve a goal. The acronym SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. SMART goals embody “the fundamental practices necessary for achieving increased motivation and improving the odds that one will actually accomplish a given set of goals,” according to R.S. Rubin, of Saint Louis University.
Specific goal-setting focuses on what one wants to accomplish and why. Setting a goal to obtain a 3.0 GPA is a more precise goal than to do better in school, which is more general. Setting a specific goal will provide a framework for intentional actions that align with completing the goal.
Measurable goals assist with helping to stay focused. Being able to track your progress towards meeting your goal can help in determining if any modifications need to happen during the process in order to achieve the goal. If your goal is to accomplish a 3.0 GPA at the end of the semester, weekly or bi-weekly you can do a check-in to see if you are progressing towards your goal.
Goals should not be unattainable; they should be reasonable and reachable. Achievable goals should stretch you as an individual; however, if your goal is unrealistic, the likelihood of attaining it will be slim to none. Achieving a 3.0 will be difficult if you are not willing to put in the time and work studying.
Another example of a more realistic goal is for someone who is new to running marathons to start with a short distance race or half-marathon and work up to a full marathon (there are exceptions).
Relevant goals are goals that interest you. If a goal is important to the individual, it increases the chances of accomplishing it.
The goal has to be worthwhile, and you must have a vested interest in the process of achieving the goal. If you are planning to apply for a certain scholarship or attend a specific college, focusing on meeting the admission or scholarship requirements will be relevant to you.
Setting a time-based goal is key, because it establishes an end time for the goal. A time-based goal helps motivate the individual to avoid distractions because there is a target date. Using the 3.0 GPA example, the goal may be reached at the time of progress reports or at the end of a semester.
SMART goals provide clarity and focus. Whether you’re an adult or a youth, using the SMART goal method can increase the chances of achieving the success of meeting a goal.
To find out more about programs through UW-Extension and various opportunities, browse our website at https://kenosha.uwex.edu/youth-development/.