High school students are more likely to succeed when they set reasonable expectations for themselves. Because of this, many schools encourage their students to make “S.M.A.R.T. goals” -- goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused and time-bound. With this criteria in mind, students may find it much easier to reach their goals, whether those goals are academic, extracurricular, athletic or social, and can reassess their objectives for continuous improvement.
Set goals based on time, rather than the end-result. Though you might want an A on a math test or a passing grade on an essay, a goal bound by time constraints is more effective as a consequence of quantification and attainability. Teachers grade subjectively, so an A on a test can never be completely assured. However, if you plan on studying for a statistics exam one hour every night for a week, your goal will be more likely to result in a better grade than a goal without similar limitations. A set amount of study time provides structure to time spent studying: an hour every day for a week is specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused and time-bound; an A on a test is not.
Focus on improving your attendance through measurable goals. If you’re worried about making friends at school, clubs can be a great way to find others with common interests, but only if you show up. A S.M.A.R.T. goal for increased activity in campus clubs may require you to attend weekly club meetings for one club in the month following rush week. This goal provides a time limitation and can be easily met -- you just have to show up. You might consider making the goal a little more challenging by requiring that you sit next to someone new at every club meeting, which will ensure that you meet as many new people as you can.
Get organized with goals that can be realistically achieved. Most high school students start out the year with the best of intentions and their backpacks newly filled with lined paper, pencil holders and three-ring binders. However, those organizational tools are only useful when properly used. If you struggle with organization, think about setting a goal that requires a new system, in addition to periodic checks. An indexed binder, appropriately separated, when combined with a weekly clean-up appointment can be an effective S.M.A.R.T. goal as it meets every requirement for efficiency.
Be specific in what you want to have done. Just about every cross-country runner in the U.S. hopes to improve his time on the track, but many don’t have the right plan in motion. If you’d like to work on your athletic performance, it’s important to make sure the desire to do better translates into a plan to do better. If you’d like to run more quickly or increase your batting average, think about scheduling extra practice sessions for yourself, above and beyond the practice your coach watches. It can be as simple as a half hour at the batting cages or an extra hour of free throws each week, so long as the goal has specific constraints.
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