Welcome to 2017! January’s almost over, but this is still an ideal time for you to evaluate your goals for the coming months and get on track for a successful year. We’re doing this as an organization, and are so excited for all the great things that Career Compass will be taking on this year.

Students have goals, too, both big and small. Maybe you’d like win first place at your school’s next track meet, or you want to retake the ACT for a better score. It’s great to have goals, but without steps behind them to ensure action to completion, they are just that - goals.

After you finish reading this blog, I want you to know the steps you can take to implement ideas into action. Here we go!

STEP ONE: What are your goals? Make a list! Want to make a 4.0 this semester or bring all your C’s to B’s? Want to improve your ACT score? Whatever your goals are: WRITE THEM DOWN!

STEP TWO: Under each goal you have written - make each goal S.M.A.R.T.! S.M.A.R.T is an acronym, and each letter stands for a concept that you should use in your goal setting. Mindtools.com has a great breakdown of the S.M.A.R.T. method on its website, which we're referencing here. 

1. Specific

Your goal should be clear and specific, otherwise you won’t be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it.
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why is this goal important?
- Who is involved?

2. Measurable

It’s important to have measurable goals, so that you can track your progress and stay motivated. Assessing progress helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal.

A measurable goal should address questions such as:
- How will I know when it is accomplished?

3. Achievable

Your goal also needs to be realistic and attainable to be successful. In other words, it should stretch your abilities but remain possible. When you set an achievable goal, you may be able to identify previously overlooked opportunities or resources that can bring you closer to it.

An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:
- How can I accomplish this goal?
- How realistic is the goal?

4. Relevant

This step is about ensuring that your goal matters to you, and that it also aligns with other relevant goals. We all need support and assistance in achieving our goals, but it’s important to retain control over them. So, make sure that your plans drive everyone forward, but that you’re still responsible for achieving your own goal.

A relevant goal can answer “yes” to these questions:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Does this match our other efforts/needs?

5. Timely

Every goal needs a target date, so that you have a deadline to focus on and something to work toward. This part of the SMART goal criteria helps to prevent everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals.

A time-bound goal will usually answer these questions:
- When?
— Mindtools.com


Here’s an example: Let's say your goal is to make a better grade in Algebra. We can apply the S.M.A.R.T. method to help you improve in Algebra.

Specific – Bring up my Algebra grade from a D to a B this semester because I need to maintain a good GPA throughout my high school career.

Measurable – My report card will tell me if I reached my goal by the end of the semester I will also have test grades throughout the semester to keep me on track.

Achievable – What will I do to obtain the B? Actions I can take include: Go to class, pay attention, if I have questions- ask my teacher. Do homework, work on practice problems to study for all quizzes and tests. Study with a friend who does well in that class.

Relevant – This is a worthwhile goal for two reasons. First, my Algebra grade is a part of my GPA, and my GPA will help determine what post-secondary school I can attend. Second, without the foundation of Algebra, I will have a more difficult time achieving a higher ACT score, which also figures into my post-secondary school options.

Timely – Similar to Measurable – I will know if I have reached my goal by the end of the semester.

THIRD AND LAST STEP: And finally, the last step is to keep this goal present in your thoughts every day. Make sure each day you are working towards your goals, and stay focused on them.

The experts say to focus on 3-4 goals at a time. So, what are you waiting for?! Time to start 2017 off right!

If you are a parent or educator, I invite you to share this process with your students/children! If this type of goal setting is implemented at a young age, think of how successful one would be in their professional and personal life as an adult! Happy Goal Setting!

--By Ashley LeSaicherre, College & Career Coach in Tangipahoa Parish