In 1979, Harvard MBA conducted a fascinating study on the effects of goal setting, in which they surveyed the habits of goal setting in the about-to-graduate students. About 84% of the entire class had set no goals at all, whereas 13% of the class had set written goals but had no concrete plans. Only 3% of the class had set written goals and concrete plans.
10 years later, the result had spoken for themselves: the 13% were making twice as much money than the 84% on average. While the 3% managed 10 times the income compared to the rest of the 97% of the class, on an average.
There is a general belief that goal setting is only for adults, which is not the right. Goal-setting is a worthwhile activity at any stage of life, including for a student. Learning how to set and achieve goals is a life skill that will serve you well no matter your future plans.
Having goals helps students focus and create a set of achievements during a specific time in school. Through goal-setting, students learn to focus time and resources more efficiently. In addition, students can gain motivation when they simply want to give up if they have made well-defined goals.
When I ask students if they have made a plan of their goals, they share their thoughts on their career and dreams. They aren’t aware that these thoughts are mere wishes and that they need a plan of action to make this their goal.
I recommend my students to employ the SMART Goals method to prepare their plan of action. Students can use the SMART Goals method to reach any academic or personal goal by following a few simple steps.
This approach defines your purpose and sets clear objectives to establish success.
SMART is an acronym that stands for
Be specific and define your goals. For example, instead of setting a goal to get better grades this year, define which grades you’d like to achieve in which subjects.
If your goal is to get better grades, think specifically about what “better grades” means to you. For example, does it mean getting straight A’s or bringing up your GPA to a particular level?
Having a quantifiable data or criteria makes the goal measurable. it allows you to track your progress and stay motivated.
It’s important to set goals that are realistic and attainable. To make your goals attainable, make short term goals and keep reevaluating your goals once you keep achieving milestones.
A relevant goal is results-focused. You should show progress in some way, either academically or personally. Only then is the goal relevant.
A goal should always have a defined timeline. You should have a deadline to achieve that goal. Without it the chances of attaining it will reduce.
It is also essential that you write down your goals. When writing your SMART goals, be as descriptive as possible. Forbes explains, “Vividly describing your goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success, and people who very vividly describe or picture their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals than people who don’t.”