Skip to main content

Specific: This is about being clear what you are trying to achieve: make your goal simple and specific. For example, planning to spend an hour ‘studying’ is a little vague. Instead, planning to ‘read and take notes from Section 3.2 of Topic 1’, or ‘complete Activity 1.1 in Topic 2’ are much more specific.

Measurable: How will you track your progress and know whether you’ve completed your goal? For example, ‘being able to correctly use and apply the equation to calculate density’ is better than ‘be better at maths’. If you’ve been specific in planning what you will do, you will more easily be able to see if you’ve achieved your goal.

Achievable: Your goal needs to be realistic. It is likely to be something that will stretch or challenge you – to get to grips with a new concept, to learn a new skill – but it should still be possible. For example, with the best will in the world, my goal of reading all the Sherlock Holmes stories in a week is unlikely to be achievable. Unrealistic goals will demotivate you. Instead, you might consider goals such as ‘Complete chapter 3, in three, 2 hr sessions).

Relevant: You need to consider how your specific goal fits in with other aspects of your life. Is this goal important at the moment? Is it necessary for your needs? You might want to learn to sky-dive – but is this relevant to your other commitments at the moment (e.g. time available, places to learn, financial considerations).

Timebound: Linking back to ensuring your goal is measurable, you need to have a completion date. This will help you to fit this specific goal into other aspects of your life but also stop you becoming too distracted. Give yourself a sensible date when it needs to be finished. For example, ‘I plan to complete Activity 1.1 in Topic 2 by the end of the week dated 15 September 2021’. Setting yourself sensible deadlines can keep you focused but your completion dates need to be realistic or you’ll demotivate yourself.

 5.2 Being SMART