Setting Reasonable Goals: Short-Term, Long-Term, and S.M.A.R.T.

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SMART Goals Online

Setting Reasonable Goals: Short-term, Long-term, and S.M.A.R.T.

The Goal-Setting Process

When you identify something specific you want, you set a goal. Actually getting what you want demands hard work and the ability to set and follow a plan. Think of a goal setting plan like a map. With this map, you will be able to see where you want to go, decide on the route that will take you there, and see where you are on your journey at any given time.

The Goal-Setting Process: Types of Goals

Some goals have a large scope. Getting your degree will take some time, for example. Other goals have an open-ended time frame. For instance, if your goal is to become a better musician, you may work at it over a lifetime. Other goals have a shorter time frame, a more definite end, and often fewer paths to get to the end. The types of goals you may set will probably fall into one of the following categories:

Individual Goals: goals that are set by you, and for which you alone develop and implement a strategy. They can be goals that you have for your own development and achievement. What makes them individual goals is that you alone are responsible for achieving them.

Collective Goals: goals that are set, collectively, by members of a group. Necessarily, each member of the group has a role to play in achieving the goal. In addition, all members will gain something in common by the achievement of the goal. Collective goals can be initiated by an individual, but if they are intended to benefit a group, they should be formulated and agreed upon by the group.

Short-term Goals: these goals are usually less complex and easier than long-term goals. We build momentum with each goal we complete, so setting short-term goals helps ensure that we’ll have frequent victories.

Long-term Goals: goals that are one year or longer and keep us headed in the right direction and can provide a sense of greater purpose. These goals may require a longer process in order to achieve their result, in which case it is helpful to break down the over-arching, or long-term, goal into smaller goals that may be reachable in shorter periods of time. Breaking a long-term goal into smaller short-term goals can provide a sense of accomplishment if our ultimate goal requires patience and perseverance over a long period of time.

Be S.M.A.R.T

Another way to remember the essential aspects of goals is by a very intelligent acronym: S.M.A.R.T.: Goals should be:

Specific: A goal is definable in specific terms.

Measurable: It is possible to quantify the process.

Attainable: It is possible to reach the goal.

Realistic: It is reasonable to expect you will reach the goal if you try.

Timely: The goal can be reached in a reasonable amount of time.

This model can be applied to long-term goals, such as your desire to learn online, as well as to shorter-term goals that contribute to reaching your main goal, such as competing a particular class.

Consider it in action

Let’s say your immediate goal is to pass an exam in your math class. Here’s how the SMART model could apply to that goal:

• Specific: Pass the math exam.
• Measurable: Answer enough questions correctly to earn a passing grade. • Attainable: You have the materials you need, instructor support, and the aptitude. • Realistic: You are prepared to study, and you basically understand the material. • Timely: You have allotted sufficient study time in your schedule.

The Goal-Setting Process: Dealing with Conflicting Goals

Inevitably in nearly everyone’s life, goals conflict. Your dream to pursue a career giving tours of the Great Barrier Reef every month could conflict with your goal to complete a degree and enter a career in accounting. A goal to make a log of money fast could conflict with your goal to have a career helping others.

Reconciling conflicting goals, whether individual or collective, short or long term,...
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