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Writing down your SMART goals can help you focus on achieving them.

ALABAMA A&M UNIVERSITY, Ala.—Planning for success is an important aspect of success in an institution of higher learning.

Dorothy Brandon, an Alabama Extension family and child development specialist, said the foundation for success is setting and achieving SMART goals.

“Goals are action-based statements that explain what is wanted or desired to achieve in the future,” Brandon said. “These goals are the prize for a person to keep their eyes on. In other words, these goals will define the direction in which a person wants their future to go.”

Goal Setting

Setting goals is the process by which people work to achieve desired results. Brandon said the process starts with knowing the desired outcome and taking the necessary steps to accomplish these goals.

“Goal setting demands that people take a realistic look at the future work and sacrifices needed to reach the established end-goals,” she said. “Putting the goals in writing helps people remember what their goals are. It also helps bring clarity to what that person wants in the future.”

Make SMART Goals

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

  • Specific goals provide clear details on why, what, where, when and how to achieve the goals.
  • Measurable goals must provide evidence of achievement.
  • Attainable goals may require hard work, sacrifice and dedication, but they should be within a person’s reach.
  • Relevant goals also support a person’s desired life direction and should line up with a person’s values.
  • Time-bound goals include target completion dates.

Plan for Success

Brandon said students should plan to be successful as they transition to this new phase in their lives.

“Be clear about what you desire out of a college experience,” she said. “Students should determine what they want to achieve and plan to achieve it by setting goals.”

More Information

Brandon has a worksheet for individuals who have not started their first year of college. Visit www.aces.edu to complete the worksheet and read more about setting SMART goals to prepare for college. Individuals may also reach out to the urban Extension agent serving in their area.

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