Writing SMART Goals as an Independent Learner

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: How to Write a Good College Essay

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Motivating Goals
  • 0:59 SMART Goals
  • 4:21 Action Plans
  • 6:03 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

What do setting goals and academic motivation have in common? In this lesson, we'll explore how setting goals can help keep you motivated, as well as the best way to set goals and achieve them with an action plan.

Motivating Goals

Shannon is a college student and she has an issue with motivation. She always starts the semester very excited and ready to go. But between school and work and family, she gets busy and overwhelmed. Sometime in the middle of the semester, Shannon just sort of loses her motivation to focus on school. She sometimes falls behind in her schoolwork and finds it difficult to keep her focus.

Shannon's motivational struggles are not uncommon. Many students find that, as the semester wears on, they tend to lose the drive that keeps them enthusiastic about the classes they are taking. So what can Shannon and students like her do? Goals are an important motivational tool. When used correctly, they can help Shannon get through the semester feeling excited and accomplishing many things.

Let's look closer at an important type of goals, SMART goals, and how to make sure even daunting goals are met.


Shannon has heard that setting goals can help her with motivation. So last semester, she set a goal for herself: she thought, 'I'm going to do well in all my classes.' Shannon's goal didn't really have an effect on her motivation and she didn't achieve the goal, either. Now she thinks that goals must not really be worth it.

But wait! Setting any old goal won't really help. Shannon needs to set the right goals to reap the benefits. What do I mean by the right goals? Many people refer to the right goals as SMART goals. The word 'SMART' is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Let's look at these more closely.

Specific - A goal should be something that's well-defined. If Shannon just sets a general goal to succeed, she's not really saying much. Everyone wants to succeed, right? So she should set a goal that's specific to her situation. For example, she might set a goal that is linked to the classes she's taking that semester.

Measurable - Similar to specific, there should be an easy way to measure your goal. For example, Shannon said she wanted to 'do well in all her classes.' But what does that mean? Does she have to get an A to do well, or is passing her classes enough?

Attainable - Goals should also be realistic. Shannon might want to be an astronaut who helps to colonize Mars, but if she doesn't like to fly or is too claustrophobic to get into a space capsule, or if NASA has decided not to colonize Mars at all, that goal isn't attainable. With Shannon's schedule of work, school, and family, expecting to get a perfect grade in seven classes one semester is probably not attainable. But aiming for a B or higher in three classes probably is.

Relevant - Remember that Shannon is struggling with motivation. If she sets goals based on what others think her goals should be, she won't be motivated by those goals. So the goals should be relevant to what she values. For example, she really wants to do well in school, but doesn't really care about making a lot of friends and going to sporting events. Someone else might set a goal to join a sorority or other campus group, but that's probably not a relevant goal for Shannon.

Timely - Let's say that Shannon sets a goal for herself. She decides that she wants to get a B or higher in three classes: English, biology, and psychology. That's a specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant goal.

But what if Shannon puts off taking those three classes? She might decide not to take any classes this semester and then, next semester put it off again. Pretty soon, it's years later and Shannon still hasn't gotten close to reaching her goal!

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account