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Setting SMART Goals

For many people, January is a time of new beginnings. The start of a new year is a common time for distance learning students at Alpha Omega Academy® and their families to take stock of where they are and where they want to be. So, how can you start some healthy habits and make 2010 the year your dreams come true?

AOA Facebook GroupIf you're looking to accomplish more this year, consider making a written list of goals. Although many people have thought about what they'd like to see in their future, less than 10% actually have written goals. In fact, on average the people with written goals accomplish 50-100% more than people without written goals.* With that in mind, follow these easy steps to make 2010 a year of accomplishment.

Getting Started
To begin, brainstorm about the different areas of your life and dream about some changes you would like to see. In his book 48 Days to the Work You Love, author Dan Miller outlines seven life areas for goal setting.

Financial: income and investments
Physical: health, appearance, and exercise
Personal development: knowledge, education, and self-improvement
Family: relationship to parents, siblings, children, and others, the development of children, and the location of your household
Spiritual: church involvement, personal commitment, and Scripture study
Social: friendships and community involvement
Career: ambitions, dreams, and hopes

Try to jot down a few aspirations in each area. At this point, don't get bogged down trying to figure out all the details. Later, you can add specific goals and prioritize the items you want to target first. While it's possible to be working toward goals in each area, it may be beneficial to choose a few key areas to start on and add additional goals as you get going. Also, feel free to take a few sessions for brainstorming, but be sure to move beyond brainstorming within a day or two.

Setting SMART Goals
Now that you have identified some ways you'd like to see your life change, it's time to make SMART goals. SMART goals must meet five qualifications. The goal has to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Specific. For example, a student could set a general goal like "Save more money." However, that goal raises several questions like how much more does he want to save and why does he want to save his money? If your goal is merely to "save more money," it's difficult to know when or even if you've reached it.

By adding SMART qualifications to the same goal, we can make it much more meaningful. If we change the goal to "Save at least $5,000 toward a college fund by December 31, 2010," it has a specific, measurable, relevant, and time-specific challenge for the new year. The remaining qualification, attainable, depends on the student's situation. If the student has a part-time job and does some budgeting, this may be an easily attainable goal, but if the student randomly chose this amount, it may keep this goal from being a SMART one.

Here are some additional examples:

General Goals
• Learn new computer skills
• Have family devotions more regularly
• Improve my grades

• Enroll in Business Computer Information Systems next semester and earn at least a 90.
• Read a chapter of the Bible with my family after supper each night.
• Improve my grades by an average of 10% in each course by reviewing completed lessons for a minimum of 30 minutes each day.

Making a Commitment
While everyone has dreams and aspirations, fewer people have goals, and even fewer write down their goals. Start brainstorming your goals today and set SMART goals for yourself in 2010!

There is power in sharing your goals as well! What SMART goals do you have this new year?

*Matthews, G. (2007). Study Backs up Strategies for Achieving Goals.
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