How to really be a SMART college student in 2015 with your New Year’s resolutions

We often set New Year’s resolutions hoping that they will magically come true sometime within the upcoming year. Do these goals sound familiar?

  • I will lose the Freshman 15.
  • I will get all A’s.
  • I will stop drinking coffee.
  • I will be more intentional with my friends and family.
  • I will go to office hours.

…and the list goes on. All of these statements are wonderful and attainable. But they might not give you a clear and achievable path. When planning your New Year’s resolutions for 2015, if you want to make sure you can accomplish them, we at the Clog found one easy and relevant acronym to help you get to your goals. What is the SMART system?

S = SPECIFIC

Answer these six questions with regards to your goal:

  1. Who is involved?
  2. What do I want to accomplish?
  3. Where? Identify a location.
  4. When? Establish a timeframe.
  5. Which? Identify requirements and constraints.
  6. Why am I doing this? Give specific reasons, purposes and benefits of achieving your goal.

For example: “Go to my GSIs’ and professors’ (who) office hours (what) at least once a week (when) to increase participation scores and better understand the material (why).” This is instead of “Go to office hours.”

TIP: Write your goal down and memorize it.

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M = MEASURABLE

Determine how you are going to measure the success of your goal. Adding numbers to your goal helps you measure if you are on track. Ask the following questions:

  1. How much? How many?
  2. How will I know when it is accomplished?

If your goal is to “Lose the Freshman 15,” then your measurement of success can be losing the 15 pounds (how much) by finals week — May 15, 2015 (when).

TIP: Write down — in a journal, on your phone, etc. — what you do each day toward reaching your goal to help track the development of your goal.

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A = ATTAINABLE

Set your goal to be realistic based on your daily commitments. If your goal is to work out every day, then it is not realistic to work out for five hours each day when you have to go to class, work and extracurriculars. It is more realistic to work out for 30 to 60 minutes each day. Schedule it into your daily routine and wake up 30 to 60 minutes earlier to hit the gym. If you make it a part of your schedule, then it will not get pushed to the wayside.

R = RELEVANT

Set a goal that you have a realistic chance of achieving and that is relevant to your lifestyle.

For example, if your goal is to run a full marathon, do not sign up for a marathon that is two months away if you haven’t trained at all. Choose a date that is further in the future to give you a realistic amount of time to train and prepare for a successful race.

T = TIMELY

Last but not least — actually the most important — is to set a deadline. Having a deadline creates a sense of urgency and importance for your goal. Remembering of the final date will help you stay focused and continue to work toward results even when you face obstacles. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What can I do TODAY to reach my goal?
  2. Where do I want to be three weeks from now?
  3. Where do I want to be three months from now?

TIP: Write your goal and deadline on a sticky note and put it on the wall above your desk or somewhere you will see it as often.

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Now go set your SMART goal and get to work! Good luck and have a happy and healthy 2015!

Featured Image: Angie Torres via Creative Commons

Contact Rebecka Sifter at [email protected]