Learn to Set (and Keep!) SMART Goals as a Student

How to make and achieve SMART goals as a student

When you have an end goal in mind, the best way to get there is by a road map that leads you each step of the way. One effective way to create a roadmap for life is through SMART goals. This acronym stands for goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. If you learn SMART goals as a student, you’ll end up achieving far more in life than the average individual.

A goal properly set is halfway reached.

Zig Ziglar

Many influential leaders use SMART goals. When used well, they can lead you to outstanding success. The beauty of SMART goals is their simplicity. Let’s explore what each letter in the acronym means.


When setting goals, be specific.

  • Who is involved in this goal? Is it a team goal or an individual goal?
  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • Where will you achieve this goal? Is it at home, at school, in a club, or in a sports competition?
  • When do you want to achieve this goal?
  • Why do you want to achieve your goal?

Unspecific goals are just good thoughts that never get action. They might be great ideas, but because they lack specificity, you won’t be able to commit to making them happen or know if they’ve actually been achieved.

“I want to get better grades,” is an admirable goal, but it doesn’t give you a very specific target. Instead of this broad goal, decide how much you’d like to raise your GPA. Or boost your calculus grade from a C- to a B+. Specifying your desired end result will help you attain your goal. This is one way to set SMART goals as a student.

Athletes need to specify goals as well. Specific goals in this area may be so many pushups within 2 minutes, or each time you do pull-ups, commit to doing one more than last time.

To further help you track your goals, consider writing them down on paper or in an app like Evernote and label them “My Goals” for this month, this year, and in your future.

Smart Goals, once written, should be reviewed often. This could take place daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly, depending upon the “Time” you originally set for achieving that goal. Longer range goals can be written and your progress reviewed yearly. Set long range goals for 5 years, 10 years, or even longer. Consider writing lifetime goals that inspire you and give you purpose and direction.

Reviewing Smart goals frequently will keep them uppermost in your mind and motivate you to achieve those goals by taking the necessary steps toward goal completion.


Whatever goal you set, make sure you have a way to measure your progress.

  • How many or how much?
  • How do you know when you’ve reached your goal?
  • What are ways you’ll measure progress?

Think of your SMART goals as a roadmap. What’s the best route to your destination? Where will you get gas? Where will you stay at night? The same is true for your goals. What are the measurable check-in points along the way to the end goal? Perhaps you want to learn a new way to study. The first step would be to research ideas. Then familiarize yourself with the concept. Then lastly implement and see how you perform on your next test. Do you remember more material than before? Were you less anxious going into the test? What does your teacher think about your performance?


Make sure your goal is achievable. You can’t plan to become 6’10” by the end of the summer. But you can get 100 free throws in a row if you work at it. Make sure:

  • You have the resources and ability to achieve your goal. If not, what’s missing?
  • Have other people attained this goal? If so, how?

If your goal isn’t achievable, go back to the drawing board. Ask yourself the who, what, where, when, and why of your goal again and see if you can settle on a goal that you can achieve with the proper time and resources. This is the best way to set yourself up for success and to achieve your SMART goals as a student.


Your goals should be realistic. Ask yourself:

  • Is this goal within my reach with proper resources and time?
  • Can you commit to achieving the goal?

Winning 75% of your games is a great thought, but this goal involves the entire team and contains so many parts that are out of your control that it may be too unrealistic to attain. Instead, maybe you could set a team goal of running so many yards as a team or scoring a specific number of goals throughout the season.

The same is true for individual goals. Set a goal of turning in all your homework every week or practicing your instrument for a set number of minutes per day.

Whatever goals you make, ensure they are goals you can actually attain. (And leave room for you to stretch yourself! Big goals require lots of work.)


Your SMART goals as a student must have a start date and a finish date.

Why? Without an end-date, you might just take your entire life to achieve it. These goals are great but try to stick with a SMART goal that has a finish date still within your time in Highschool. Often, the shorter the timeline, the more likely you are to achieve your goal.

When you specify each of these 5 steps to a SMART goal, the only thing holding you back from achieving it is you. Commit to following through on your goal — you’ll be that much closer to your dream future!

To assist you in SMART goal setting and completion, contact us. We are experts in helping you succeed!