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“Our goals can only be reached through the vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” Pablo Picasso

Ask any successful person what their secret is and most would mention something about setting goals. But is your son SMART with his goal setting? Well, the SMART framework just got smarter — or rather, SMARTIES.

Most of you are aware of the SMART principle of goal setting. But Dr Prue Salter, Director of Enhanced Learning Educational Services, suggests expanding on this framework by adding three more criteria to create the SMARTIES principle. Here is a quick summary of this new framework.

  • Specific - make goals as specific as possible, avoiding vague goals like “I want to do better at Maths.”
  • Measurable - how will you achieve success? Place a number on your goal so you have something to aim for.
  • Actionable - short-term goals should be action focused, and should help you achieve your medium and long-term goals.
  • Relevant and Realistic - are your goals relevant to you and your future? Are they realistically aligned with your current position and what you can achieve? It’s important to create challenging goals but avoid unrealistic ones that can set you up for failure.
  • Timely - set a target date to reach your goal by.
  • Interesting - ensure that you find your goals interesting and worth pursuing. This will help with motivation.
  • Emotional - using powerful language can help create an emotional attachment to your goal. Need help with using emotive language? Here are 317 examples of powerful language.
  • Success-oriented - express your goals in a way that is both positive and focused on success. 

What does a SMARTIES goal look like?

Setting a goal that follows this framework isn’t necessarily easy. But then again, achieving goals is rarely easy. Here are two practical examples to help you see the SMARTIES framework in action.

An example of a vague and poorly worded goal is, “I want to do better at Mathematics.” For all the effort in the world, you may never know if your son has succeeded in reaching this goal. But if he worded it well, not only would he have a better chance of recognising success, but he also would be armed with a plan and actions to follow.

A better wording would be, “I will finish my HSC with a grade of 90 percent or higher in Mathematics. To do this, I will increase my study time by 10 hours each week, and will work with my tutor to identify priority learning areas. Achieving this goal will give me a better chance at gaining a place in my chosen university course.”

Notice how this goal is future focused? By wording it in this manner your son is taking ownership of achieving this goal, and the use of positive language can reinforce their desire to achieve this.

Another example of a poorly worded goal is, “I want to be Captain of my school’s top rugby team.” It’s an ambitious goal to have but doesn’t give your son a plan to follow. There is also the danger of it being too ambitious, and the choice of Captaincy is often dependant on a number of factors outside of your son’s control.

A better SMARTIES approach would be, “By Year 12 I will be a senior player in the top rugby team. I will train two hours a day, four days a week, and will follow a training and nutritional plan set out by my coaches. Achieving this goal gives me a better chance of becoming a professional rugby player in the future, and allows me to play at a higher level once I finish school.”

This goal now follows the SMARTIES framework and uses positive language to enforce a goal.

The HSC can be a difficult time for both students and parents. To help you navigate this period we have put together The HSC Survival Guide - a guide containing expert advice for parents from teachers, counsellors and around the web. Download your copy by clicking the banner below.

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