SMARTer Goals, Better Results!
Often times, we get super excited about New Years’ Resolutions, but they already start to fall apart by this point in the year. We’re always working to make our lives happier and healthier, but it’s easy to lose sight of how we actually make it happen.
Think back to your family goals. Whether it’s finding a better job, spending more time together, or improving grades–all of these are actually achievable if you get yourself in the right mindset. It can be overwhelming to look at a goal that you’ve set for yourself if you don’t know where to begin. However, there’s a great method to help you stay on track!
Let’s talk about SMART goals. This article from MindTools breaks down what SMART goal is. Bite-sized pieces are always easier to swallow than one big scoop, and you should think about your goals in that way!
What is SMART? | Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. Time-bound.
Breaking down your goal with the SMART approach will help you figure out the steps you’ll need to take to be successful. It allows you to ask questions, find solutions, and stay motivated. Let’s break down a common goal that families set for themselves and make it SMART!
GOAL: I want my child to get better grades.
SPECIFIC: “When drafting your goal, try to answer the five “W” questions: What do I want to accomplish? Why is this goal important? Who is involved? Where is it located? Which resources or limits are involved?”
WHAT: I want my child to improve her grades.
WHY: Better grades will help my child feel confident or get on the right track for college.
WHO: Myself, my child, her teachers, tutors.
WHERE: High school
WHICH: Resources – Tutors, extra credit assignments, after school programs, libraries, study hall / Limits – transportation, time, money
MEASURABLE: “A measurable goal should address questions such as: How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?”
Take a look at the resources you’ve identified. Then, figure out which ones you’re able to manage. You don’t have to utilize everything available, but consider which ones make the most sense for her. Maybe she’s struggling in English class, so you opt for both a tutor and some extra credit reading assignments. Think about what success will look like for you–does it have to be bumping a 75 up to an 80? Or is it about seeing her confidence grow? A combination of the two? Decide together how many resources you’ll use and pick a good identifier to monitor her progress.
ACHIEVABLE: “An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as: How can I accomplish this goal? How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?”
Turning C’s into A’s isn’t going to happen overnight, nor should it be an absolute necessity to show that you’ve met your goal. The important thing to remember is that these goals will take time and effort. If your child is struggling in all classes, this might be even more difficult–but don’t lose hope! If you can’t find afford a tutor, talk to the school or your family coach about other options–there’s a good chance that they know of someone who will be able to help at little to no cost. Work within your means and ask for help when you feel like you can’t access the resources you need.
RELEVANT: “A relevant goal can answer “yes” to these questions: Does this seem worthwhile? Is this the right time? Does this match our other efforts/needs? Am I the right person to reach this goal? Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment?”
This might be an easy one. Does your child’s success seem like a good investment of your family’s time? Should this be a priority, or can it wait? Will it help make things better overall? If you haven’t already asked these questions, be sure to!
TIME-BOUND: “A time-bound goal will usually answer these questions: When? What can I do six months from now? What can I do six weeks from now? What can I do today?”
We know that our goal is going to take some time. So, think about good ways to break it down. For example, take a look at your child’s school calendar–when are midterms, finals, project deadlines, holiday breaks? Use these dates to work with your child on her own schedule. Creating study plans and project calendars will help your kiddo stay on track, and use progress reports to ensure work is getting done on schedule. Decorate a big poster board with lists or a calendar that you hang in the kitchen to maintain important deadlines and tick off any big project stepping stones that are getting done! Add study dates, tutoring sessions, parent teacher conferences–anything that will help you stay on track. Make to-do lists each week. You can use these important dates to book-end smaller goals, like reading a certain number of pages in a book over the course of a week. Visual representations can be super helpful, and your child will be able to see her progress to track her successes.
SMART GOAL: I want to find and utilize the resources provided by my child’s school and within the community to help her raise her overall GPA in high school so that she can feel more confident in her ability to be successful and help her get on the right track for college. She will attend a tutoring session at least once a week, and will complete 2 extra credit assignments in the spring semester. She will raise her English grade from a 75 to an 80 by the end of the semester and will complete all of her assignments on time. We will support her by checking in with the family coach if we feel that we need additional resources that we cannot afford. This improvement in her English class will help raise her overall GPA. By the end of her junior year, her GPA will have met the requirements to apply for a merit-based scholarship so that she can start applying to colleges.
Now that you’ve learned about SMART goals, go back through your family goals and ask yourself the following questions: Are my goals specific? Measurable? Achievable? Relevant? Time-bound? If you can answer yes to all of these questions, you’ll find it much easier to move forward!