Parent-teacher conferences are around the corner and I have three IEP meetings this week. I am writing goals and progress notes like it’s no one’s business. By trade, I have been trained in the work of writing SMART goals for all of my students and clients. SMART as in:

Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Realistic. and Timely.

For example, a typical language goal for one of my students might look something like this: In one year, the student will follow two-step directions incorporating colors, shapes, and sizes with 80% accuracy across three sessions when provided with fading verbal prompts.

SMART goals are essential for student growth and success for a number of reasons. The specific and measurable objectives outline expectations and keep them out in the open for all related service providers, teachers and administrators to see. The goals also serve as a benchmark to help make adjustments and adaptations as needed.

Like with the above example, if the student isn’t reaching the 80% target accuracy after a number of sessions, something has to be adjusted. Maybe the level of cueing. Perhaps they need visual cues or a clinical model. Maybe taking the two step back down to one step directions. The data will drive the direction.

I thought SMART goals were an educational setting concept. So I was surprised when my partner came home to discuss his annual review and mentioned that he had to make his professional goals SMARTer.

Some investigating via google brought me to the conclusion that SMART goals are absolutely not exclusive to educational settings. In fact, established professionals across all fields and paths of life engage in some form of SMART goal writing in order to maximize their success.

There is an actual science behind goal setting. Research shows that people who write down their goals and dreams achieve those desires at significantly higher rate than those who do not. I don’t have a study to cite, but I can only imagine based on clinical experience that those rates increase if the goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.

I have five plus years of writing SMART goals for students and clients but very little practice in writing SMART goals for myself. 2017 was the first year that I started to write out short-term goals for my writing and professional career.

There is one SMART goal though that I set for 2017 that I am making adequate progress on and have a shot of meeting before the year is out.

By December 31, 2018, I said that I would write 52 drafts of essays.

**This is essay 36 in the #52essays2017 challenge created by Vanessa Mártir. I have 16 more to go and 8 weeks left in the year. It’s grind time.

(Fun fact: The likelihood of your transforming your dreams into reality increases even more if you share your written goal with a friend who believes in your potential. Scientists call this person your “partner in believing.”)

If you’re still reading, I’m giving you a homework assignment:

Write out a SMART goal for yourself in any aspect of your life (i.e. financial, relational, professional, emotional, spiritual) and share it with your person and/or tribe. Do it! Let’s create the change we wish to see one goal at a time.

***This is essay 36 in the #52essays2017 challenge created by Vanessa Mártir.


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