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Setting Smart Goals - Do They Really Work?

heysarahpaz profile image Sarah Paz ・3 min read

In my last blog post I talked about learning to learn, and how we've been trained more so to learn for a short term goal (pass a test), vs learning for the long term goal of retaining information.

I wanted to expand on this topic of learning and personal development with a focus on goals. Setting goals isn't something new to us, we've all done it, and with as many goals as we've accomplished I'm sure we've all had a few slip through the cracks. So do you ever think back and try to understand why?

A big factor to achieving a goal is to ensure that you create realistic and attainable tasks towards that goal. Be as specific as you can and add in as many details as possible to help build these tasks into habits. Yesterday, while going through the Learning to Learn course I've discussed in my last blog "Why Do You Learn?" I had a little refresher on a goal setting technique called S.M.A.R.T goals.

If you haven't heard of this before, here's a quick diagram explaining what each letter represents:

S.M.A.R.T Goals
Photo from Kazoohr

And although I have known about S.M.A.R.T goals, I haven't really implemented it when setting my own goals - not sure why, but that changed yesterday!

Setting My S.M.A.R.T Goal

My main goal right now is to land my first dev job. But of course, with knowing what we know about the importance of details within a goal, I had to elaborate on that a bit more.

S - Specific

Land my first dev job by July 24th (My XXth Birthday) 🍰

I've broken down this goal into various tasks:

  • Study React - 3x a week (2hrs a day)
  • Write a blog post - 1x week (Publish on Sundays)
  • Build personal website - work on this 2x week (2hrs a day)
  • Build a small feature - work on this 2x week (1hr a day)

M - Measurable

Adding small feature builds (React, HTML, CSS, JS) as sub-tasks to my goal measures how I'm retaining the information I study. Ensuring I understand and am actively practising what I learn to solidify my knowledge.

A - Attainable

Each task is attainable because I have access to the information needed to achieve them. I've broken down study sessions into smaller more realistic goals (2hrs a day vs studying until my eyes give in), and am practising spaced repetition by spreading out study sessions with different methods of learning. I also have an amazing mentor who I'll discuss my S.M.A.R.T goal with, and am sure he'll be a huge resource as well. 🙏

R - Relevant

All pieces are relevant because they work towards improving my skills + knowledge, building my personal brand as well as my community presence.

Study + feature builds = skills
Blog post = community presence + reiterating knowledge
Personal website = skills + personal branding

T - Timely

3 month goal with bi-weekly re-evaluations to make adjustments as needed. Life happens, situations change, and I need to be able to adapt to those changes. Setting up frequent check-ins with myself on my progress and how things are going, and making changes as needed is another step closer to success.

Will This Work?

Today is my first day following this new structure, and so far all is good! It's only day one, and Sunday's are my "lighter" days so it doesn't really say much, but I do feel more confident knowing that everything is organized with purpose. I've even color coordinated each sub-task on my whiteboard calendar. 😄

Next steps, well - I guess time will tell. I'll write a follow up blog post in 2 weeks with an update. What worked, what didn't worked, what I changed. One thing I know I'll have to remind myself is that changing goals doesn't mean I'm failing them, it just means I'm adapting as best I can to ensure I stay on track. Gotta keep a positive mindset, always!

If you've got any goal setting tip/techniques that have worked for you, please share! Of even if they haven't worked, I'd like to hear about them too. Learning what doesn't work is just as important as what does work!


Photo by Social.Cut on Unsplash

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