Cat in the Stax: Start SMART
By Ethan Shea
The 2021 Fall Semester is finally beginning, and for many it’s an exciting return to campus and some semblance of normalcy. With new schedules comes new opportunities and goals, but goal-setting isn’t always easy, so be sure to start SMART this fall.
What do I mean by start SMART?
SMART is an acronym used to help you set goals that you’ll be more likely to achieve. I’ve personally found that using SMART goals helps most when my planner starts to fill up and life begins to get busy, but everyone can benefit from learning a bit about them.
If your goal is not clearly defined, it’s easy to find a way out of accomplishing it. For example, if my goal is to run more this semester, I would be better off planning to run “five days per week” rather than just telling myself to run “more.” Ask yourself when and where you will work to achieve your goal and write it down. This way, there is less margin for error.
Most large goals aren’t achieved in an hour, day, or even a week. As a result, it’s helpful to take note of how you’re progressing toward your goal. Maybe you want to read five books this semester. After you finish one, write it down. Now you’re only four books away from reaching your goal!
All goals worth setting should be challenging, but this doesn’t mean they should be impossible to achieve. It’s not helpful to tell you set a goal of growing wings and flying this semester. Of course, you couldn’t do that. The main idea to take away from this portion of your SMART goal is to always ask how you will reach your goal. If you can’t answer this question, maybe your goal, like the wish for wings, is for the birds.
When all is said and done, what will you have gained from achieving your goal? All you’ll get from having a goal of eating fast food everyday is a stomach ache, but practicing a language for five minutes daily will bring you one step closer to fluency. Even if a goal is worthwhile, it may not be the right time to achieve it. Maybe your schedule is especially hectic this semester. You don’t want your goals to get in the way of each other, so make sure you plan accordingly.
If there is not a set date your goal needs to be achieved by, you’ll have more leeway to neglect the work needed to accomplish it. The next time you’re aiming for an A on an exam, write down specific times you plan to study for it. That way you’ll know exactly how much time you’re putting aside, so you’ll be able to focus on all of life’s other obligations accordingly.
In general, some of the most common goals for students are to make new friends and get good grades. Luckily, Falvey Memorial Library is here to help. From astronomy to accounting, librarians who specialize in each subject can be found with the help of Falvey’s subject guides. In addition to your academic aspirations, the Library is a great place to accomplish your social goals and spend time with friends. Maybe even grab a coffee together at Holy Grounds.
No matter what your goals are for this semester, stay safe and stay SMART!
Ethan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.
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Right on spot! SMART is the only way to set and accomplish goals. I’ve followed this strategy for years. Your article is timely as we all settle back in to reality and have once again goals that must be met. So be SMART and reach those goals!