How many times have you decided to get healthy starting Monday? Are you going to write the next great novel “someday”? Perhaps you are a student and “hoping” to pass all of your classes?

All of these dreams are the beginning of a goal, but without more detail they are harder to accomplish. As people, we tend to have a lot of really great ideas. Someday kills them. Hoping to get lucky with no responsibility eradicates our own ability to celebrate without a gnawing suspicion that we may not be so lucky next time.

When you want to set a goal, make sure it is “SMART”!

S= Specific

M=Measurable

A= Achievable

R=Relevant

T=Time-bound

Let’s stick with getting healthy and do some practice.

“I want to get healthy, but I will start on Monday.”

Does this statement answer all of the SMART statements above? Is it specific? No. What is healthy. There is no way to assume that you are over/underweight. It could be that you want to change your diet to feel better/alleviate some ailment. Healthy is too broad of a term to ensure that this goal is Specific.

“I want to lose 20 pounds.”

Better. This one is specific as it provides a precise measurement. Just saying “I want to lose weight” leaves us nothing to measure. This statement has knocked off the first two criteria for setting a SMART goal (Specific/Measurable)

“I (still) want to lose 20 pounds”

Great! Is this achievable for you specifically? This may be an easy answer for you or you may need to seek the advice of a medical professional (which is most definitely not me). Make sure you are setting a goal that is relevant to you. Make sure you and your body will be happier once you start to see these results. You could always alter the amount. “I want to lose/gain 5 pounds”, “I want to have more energy and not feel so bogged down because of my diet”. You can also measure subjectively. If you feel lethargic a lot, you could maintain a journal on your journey to track any changes/improvements. You are not tied to the statements I make. Make them your own. If your goal is attainable, move along. Is this goal relevant to you? Keep tweaking until you come up with something that fits your needs/desires. (Achievable/Relevant)

Now, let us give it some Time.

“I want to lose 20 pounds in six months”

Look at that! You have created a deadline. Now your goal is Time-Bound. You have taken away the dreaded ambiguity of someday and given yourself a block of time to achieve a goal. (Time-Bound)

Time to review the entire thing and make sure we have checked off each of the criteria.

S= 20 pounds

M= You have your starting weight and a measurable goal (20 pounds)

A= You have made sure that this is something that you can do and that it is an achievable goal with your overall health in mind.

R= Looking at whether the goal fits you personally. Relevance has passed.

T= You have given yourself 6 months to reach your goal.

Now that you have created an overall goal, you can start creating mini-goals.

“I want to lose about one pound a week. I will lose 4 pounds in one month.”

Your smart goal has led you to a place where you can seek out the information that you need to make it happen. These are your actionable steps. Each of these should also be SMART.

  • I will exercise for one hour 3 times a week.
  • I will increase my daily water intake to 64 ounces per day.
  • I will decrease my saturated fat/carbohydrate intake by 20%.
  • I will increase the amount of fresh foods in my diet by including two vegetables/ fruits to each of my meals.

Again, you are in no way bound to my example including weight loss. Write a book! Achieve a Grade Point Averge (GPA) you can be proud of on purpose! Clean your house! Take up running! Do whatever you want! Just make sure you are SMART!

I tried to find an origin for the SMART acronym. Here’s a little tidbit I found…

Origin of SMART Goals Acronym (click the link)

Want to read more? Start here:

Eve is a mom, student, daughter, sister, blogger, doer, thinker, and more. Any and all blog content should be viewed as opinion and any sources should be verified prior to using any of these words in that particular order to form your own (opinions). For more, visit: Happy Kotter: Disclaimer. Have a great day!

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Getting into college is only the first of many hurdles in higher education. The application process alone varies from institution to institution. The determination to succeed can not diminish just because you’ve made your way to that acceptance letter. In the many (many) years I have been a student, I have picked up on a few things to consider if you are struggling.

Do you know how to study?

  • Important note: Do you know how to read a textbook? I’m dead serious here. These books are set up specifically to teach you a great deal of information. If your approach is too casual, or you just don’t know what to look for, you could miss out on a lot of important information. When it comes to test time, that is going to hurt your chances of making the grade you want. For some tips on reading your textbook, check out this wikihow: https://www.wikihow.com/Read-a-Textbook
  • Are you studying in an environment that works for you? Make sure you have a place where you can devote your attention to your work. This could be your home, a specific room, a library, or anywhere you can get some distraction free time. Let go of your devices, especially social media, if this is a source of distraction to you. Your performance in the classroom is affected by everything you experience outside of the classroom and that is different for everybody. Set yourself up for success!
  • How do you learn? I’ve read a lot in favor of knowing your own learning style. This can help if a specific method isn’t working to make information meaningful to you. I have a hard time listening to lecture and retaining information. If you would like to learn more about learning style, I recommend the VARK quiz. This one is free and can be taken online. http://vark-learn.com/the-vark-questionnaire

Are you spending enough time on your schoolwork outside of the classroom?

  • Cramming is not the answer! Your best learning does not take place an hour before the test. Never does. Have I written assignments last minute? Yes. Have I crammed for a test? Yes. Did I always get the lower grade I deserved? No. You may be able to pull this off from time to time, but it is going to catch up to you! Give yourself time to destress before a test. Do yourself a favor now and absorb what you can so you won’t have to “relearn” it later.
  • How much time are you studying outside of class? Before you assess this, let’s talk about a few things. Is this course/content difficult for you? What are your semester goals? Your overall educational goals? Is there something else this grade could affect (scholarships, club affiliation, etc.)? As a general rule, it is good to study two hours for every credit hour you take. Let’s say you’re enrolled in a 3 hour civics class (x 2 hours study). Then you would need to engage with that content 6 hours per week.
  • Enrolled in 15 hours for the semester? Then 30 hours of your week are comitted to your student success friends. Have a job? A family? Want to sleep? I will do another post on time management at a later time 🙂

Do you know your instructors/professors?

  • Let me say it again. Do you know who the people are that are teaching your classes? I spent so much time avoiding asking for help because I was afraid they would know that I didn’t always understand what was going on. I did not know how to contribute what I did know and ask for help when I needed it. Part of that was due to being intimidated by whoever was teaching the class.
  • These people have office hours, email, etc. for a reason! Now that I am the person at the head of the classroom, I would be crushed to know that someone didn’t make it just because they didn’t feel like they could reach out to me. It’s really that simple. These people are just as human as you are and every one of them has been a student (they may still be one somewhere). Have no fear, ask for help if you need it.

As I wrap up this post, I realize that there are numerous areas that I haven’t even touched. Working toward making someone else’s journey through higher ed a little less painful or awkward or weird is why I’m still here.

Imagine a world where the brightest minds just need a little push to thrive or the space to feel safe to try and succeed or try and fail and try again. That’s where we are. There are students who don’t speak up or ask for help. There are ways that we can make it better.

I would love to continue to write about achieving success, overcoming boundaries, and such. Are there any other areas that you would like to see covered? If I haven’t experienced it myself, I bet there’s a resource for someone who has.

If you are interested in contributing or collaboration, please send me an email: happykotter@gmail.com.

Eve is a mom, student, daughter, sister, blogger, doer, thinker, and more. Any and all blog content should be viewed as opinion and any sources should be verified prior to using any of these words in that particular order to form your own (opinions). For more, visit: Happy Kotter: Disclaimer. Have a great day!

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