Set Goals the SMART Way

by LISSA WEIDENFELLER
Principal, North Rockford Middle School

As the New Year comes and goes, so do some of our goals and New Year’s resolutions that we hope to accomplish. How do you set a goal that you can stick with throughout the year and actually achieve? You do it the SMART way!

According to Quality Leadership by Design (QLD), SMART Goals are goals that are:

• Specific/Strategic
• Measurable
• Attainable
• Results-Based
• Time-Bound

SMART Goals can be used in almost any situation: personal, professional, financial, educational, healthy living, spiritual, and much more. Prior to setting a SMART Goal, you need to determine what you are trying to improve, what you would like your end result to be, if it is attainable and in a reasonable amount of time, and how you are going to measure that you actually achieved your goal.

Business and industry have been using results-oriented goals for decades. Schools throughout our nation have followed this model, including North Rockford Middle School, and are using results-oriented goals to focus on increased student achievement. As educators, we not only focus on teaching students, we also focus our efforts on ensuring students are learning. Using SMART Goals ensure that we are setting goals that will provide for continuous improvement in learning and increase our student success rate.

An example of a SMART Goal in a school system could be to have 98% of our students proficient in basic math facts by the 2010 MEAP. An example of a personal financial goal could be as follows: 20% of my financial department will be reduced by September 1, 2009. An example of a healthy living goal could be to reduce my weight by 15% by April 1, 2009, or to run a mile within seven minutes by April 1, 2009.

Once you determine your goal, make sure it is SMART. Start by planning the action steps and setting indicators, or smaller targets, to ensure that you are moving in the right direction to achieve your goal within the established timeline.

It is hard to believe that we are almost into March. Revisit your New Year’s resolutions and goals to determine your progress. If you are not making progress or need an additional strategy to achieve your goals, make them SMART and start today!

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