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Time Management

SMART Goals infographic. S is for Specific: What exactly are you trying to achieve? M is for Measurable: How will you keep track of your progress? A is for Achievable: Is it genuinely possible to attain your goal? R is for Relevant: Does your goal align with you values, dreams, and ambitions? T is for Time-bound: When will you achieve your goal?

What are SMART Goals?

SMART is an acronym where each letter represents a different quality your goal should have to give you the best chance of achieving it.

To make sure your goals are clear and reachable—and to help yourself create an action plan you can track—each goal should be

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Watch the video below for a quick overview on the meaning of each of the letters in SMART, and then we'll look at how you might apply them to your own goal setting.

SMART Goals for Students

Let's look at how you might apply the SMART approach to your own goals at Sheridan.

For example, let's say that you have a major assignment coming due at the end of the term that's worth 25% of your final grade. Your professor wants you to do some research and find 8 journal articles about your topic. You know that Sheridan's Library has databases where you can find these articles, but you've never used them before.

How would you create a SMART goal to keep you motivated in this situation?

Describe your goal in detail so that it is clear. Consider details like what, when, where, how, and why.

For example: I want to improve my research skills (what) this term (when) so I can get a great mark on my big assignment (why) in this class (where). I know I'll have other research assignments in my program (why), so I'll set aside time in my schedule to focus on building these skills (how).

State how you will assess whether you have met your goal. Think about a specific measurement such as a grade on an assignment or on an exam.

For example: I will measure my success by listing out what I do know before attending a couple library research sessions on searching databases, and then compare it to what I've learned in those sessions. I'll also read and incorporate feedback from my professor for the smaller research assignments due in the first half of the term.

Explain why you think it's possible for you to achieve your goal given your current skill level and the resources available to you that could improve your skills.

For example: I feel comfortable asking my professor for advice, and I know they want me to succeed. I know that the library has some research sessions I can attend, and I know I can ask at the front desk if I need more help. I also know I could book an appointment at the Tutoring Centre if I want to learn more tips to improve my research.

Make sure your goal is relevant to your current class, lesson, or program. For a student, a relevant goal will likely be related to your education (but you could also create SMART goals to help you meet goals outside of the classroom too).

For example: Improving my research skills will help me get a better grade on my assignment and, if I can learn these skills now, I'll do better in other courses too.

State when you want to meet your goal. Make sure your timeline is realistic, especially given all the other time commitments you might have.

For example: A great final grade (80% or more!) and positive end-of-semester feedback from my professor will be my end goal.

Create Your Own SMART Goal!

Now, it's your turn! What do you want to achieve this term?

Be SMART and set clear goals to help you create an action plan and to track your progress—download the worksheet below and try it out for yourself!

SMART goals worksheet image. Download the document below!