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Setting Goals That Stick: Part II

Posted on February 3rd, 2014 by Stephen Hardy | Print

In the first of this series of blogs we talked about setting SMART goals. SMART goals were:






Let’s start at the top of the list on how to make your goals:


Often the goals we set ourselves are too wishy washy or have no clear focus. Let’s say for example, you want to:

“Get better grades”

This is not a particularly useful goal. It’s too imprecise: How much better? In what subjects? Over what time period? For what purpose? How will you do it?

“I want to raise my grade average in all subjects by 15 points before the end of the next semester”

While this is a big improvement, it’s still not specific enough because it doesn’t say anything about how.
To make the goal truly specific it needs to answer six critical “W” questions:

WHAT is the goal?
WHO will be involved?
WHERE will it happen?
WHEN will it happen and when will I know I’ve achieved it?
WHICH resources do I need and are there any potential barriers or limitations in the way?
WHY is it important I reach it?

So let’s go back and refine your general goal to “Get better grades”, by including answers to each of these six “W” questions:

“To qualify for entry into Computer Science at Stanford next year, I will improve my grade average across all subjects by 15 points by the end of the next semester. I will do this by asking for more detailed feedback on my work from my teachers. I will also devote more time to studying by watching no more than 2 hours of television per week. I will use the time I save studying in a quiet corner of the library. It is important I achieve this goal as I want a career as a software engineer.”

In this goal all the six “W” questions are answered:

WHAT – I will increase my grade average by 15 points across all subjects.
WHO – I will do it with the assistance of my teachers.
WHERE – I will study on the east side of the third floor of the library, where it is quiet.
WHEN – I will do it by the end of the next semester.
WHICH – I will watch no more than 2 hours of television per week and use the time saved to study.
WHY – I want to gain entry into Computer Science at Stanford as it will be the first step to becoming a software engineer.

Let’s move on.

Until next time, stay happy and healthy.

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