Organizational Leadership News & Views

Goal-setting for grad school and career

  • Alvernia MOL

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”  This quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry rings true whether you are setting goals in the workplace or in your personal life. Having a clear target for where you want to go and what it takes to get there are the initial steps in goal setting.

Your goals will range from narrow to broad, short- to long-range and it’s essential that your goals are motivating. To achieve your goals, you must actively plan for and work toward them. Here are a few techniques that can help when setting goals.

Set SMART Goals

SMART is an acronym used for criteria that guides goal setting. The words within the acronym have meant different things to different authors throughout the decades the term has been used, including:

S – specific, significant, stretching

M – measurable, meaningful, motivational

A – agreed upon, attainable, achievable

R – realistic, relevant, rewarding

T – time-based, tangible, trackable

The SMART approach offers a simple framework from which people can consider and define the goals and objectives they set. It reduces the risk of setting fuzzy and unobtainable goals. Critics say the SMART technique does not work well for long-term goals because it lacks flexibility. Despite this, SMART remains popular because of its ease of use.

Put it in Writing

Written goals help people stay focused on what they wish to accomplish. They are compared to guideposts that provide direction.

Writing down goals also forces people to define their goals and determine whether they are realistic and achievable. In business, written goals are often referred to throughout the planning process to keep teams on track

Make an Action Plan

Goals can be broken down into smaller objectives. Each step should be specific. By defining time, resources and budget, individuals become more likely to achieve their goals. The author of the Forbes article, “Why You Should Be Writing Down Your Goals” suggests that you keep breaking big steps into smaller steps until goals seem less daunting and achievable.

Setting goals is part of being an effective leader. The Masters in Organizational Program at Alvernia provides students with the skills, abilities, behaviors and other characteristics needed to help their teams reach their goals.

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