Rian Shambaugh
Rian Shambaugh

SMART Goals Workshop

SMART Goals Workshop

This workshop, presented by Alysia Birkholz from the Office of Professional Development, focused on how to set goals and how to stick to them.

SMART goals

SMART goals is a goal setting framework originally developed in the business field. It says that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely.

  1. Specific

Goals should be focused, unambiguous, and defined as much as possible. You should write down exactly what you intend to accomplish.

  1. Measurable

You want to be able to tell for sure that you’ve completed a goal. The “finished” state should be unambiguous. Write down concrete criteria for measuring your progress toward attaining each goal.

  1. Actionable/Action-oriented

Goals should be actions that you can take. You should also have a strategy to stay accountable for your goals. For example, telling a friend what you intend to do.

  1. Realistic

Your objective should be something that you are both willing and able to accomplish. If you don’t want to accomplish the goal, chances are you won’t. Each goal should represent substantial progress. You must decide if your goal is attainable given how difficult it is to achieve and the amount of time you have to achieve it. Keep n mind any conditions that may be required to reach the goal.

  1. Timely

You should write down when you intend to complete the goal. Keep in mind that it will take about 2.5 times longer than you think it will.

9 Factors of Goal Setting

  1. Your goals should be something that you really want, not just something that looks or sounds good.
  2. Goals must be consistent with your personal values. If they are inconsistent, you won’t accomplish them.
  3. Your goals must not contradict your other goals, otherwise you will not accomplish either.
  4. You should write all of your goals in a positive sense. This allows you to be more productive in a happier place.
  5. Aim high. Goals should be realistic, but challenging.
  6. Give details for your goals. This goes back to ensuring goals are specific and actionable.
  7. Write down your goals. This allows your brain to work on it in the background, even while you are not focusing on it.
  8. Review your goals and change as necessary. Our lives change all the time and our goals must change with them.
  9. Have goals in all areas of your life. Not just work and school, but in other areas of your life as well.

W’s of goal setting

  • Who is involved
  • What is it you are trying to accomplish
  • Where (can be a geographic location or a location in time)
  • When (i.e. timeframe for completion)
  • Which (i.e. requirements or restraints)
  • Why (reasons/purpose/benefits of accomplishing)

Long-term vs. Short-term

Long term goals can be more vague and should be broken up into smaller, more actionable and specific, short-term goals. You should figure out what needs to happen in the short(er) term in order to reach the long term goal. Short-term goals are more likely to fit into the SMART framework. For example, a long-term goal could be to build your professional network. Short-term goals toward accomplishing that could be to conduct two informational interviews by the end of the semester, attend three conferences this year, and join a professional organization. Each of these short-term goals would involve one or more action steps and each action step should have a timeframe or deadline associated with it.

Final Suggestions

Alysia recommends staying accountable by telling your goals and timelines to a friend and telling them that you will share results with them at a particular time. She also says that it is okay to reset goals, if need be. We don’t always meet our timelines the first time. When working towards particular jobs, she recommends choosing at least two job options and work towards each of them at the same time. This translates to other goals as well: sometimes you may want to choose a backup goal and work contribute to both it and your preferred goal at the same time. For example you may prefer to send your paper to one conference, but just in case also work toward another conference at the same time, just in case you can’t meet the preferred deadline. You should also manage your goals, expectations, and time. In another workshop, Alysia talks about how to manage time effectively.