I’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. In the last post we discussed identifying a skill/behavior that you would like to improve in order to help you reach your next career milestone, with the understanding that our long-term life goals are made up of a series of short-term goals. In this post, you’ll clearly identify the skill/behavior you’d like to improve upon, and then create a plan outlining how the current state of that skill, future goal, daily routine/actions, deadline for completion and a way to measure progress.
Your goal should be S.M.A.R.T.
We recommend that your goal be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (S.M.A.R.T.).
- Specific: clearly defined. When goals are specific, or clearly defined, it is easier to know when they are reached. Specify the goal by clarifying what exactly is expected, why it is important, who is involved and where it will happen.
- For example: I want to increase my focus/productivity by 200%, independently, each month, during internship/work hours, because I will be able to get twice as much work done and be better prepared for when I enter the workforce upon graduation.
- Measurable: establish criteria for measuring the progress of each goal. This shows what and how much change we are expecting.
- Focus/productivity will be measured in how many tasks I accomplish during work hours each day. Let’s say I complete two big tasks each day; I will focus on limiting distractions/overthinking so that I eventually complete four big tasks each day
- Attainable: identify goals that are truly most important to you, you begin to find ways to make them come true. You develop attitudes, abilities and financial capacity to reach them. You begin to see opportunities you otherwise may not see as you realize the importance of such goals. “Attainable”, in this case, refers to how reasonable the goal is overall, regardless of your personal ability to do it.
- Doubling daily productivity, or reducing time to accomplish each task, in one month is attainable for many people in my situation. Many interns can do that as they develop knowledge and skill in their work.
- Realistic: to be realistic, the goal has to be something you are personally willingand able to work toward. You are the one who determines when it is completed, so make sure it is something you can realistically accomplish. “Realistic”, in this case, differs from “attainable” because it specifies whether you have the capacity to accomplish the goal. There may be something unique about you, making you better/worse at accomplishing a task than most people in your situation. If too easy, increase to difficulty or tighten the deadline. If too hard, decrease difficulty or push back the deadline, but only after you’ve actually tried it for a bit – don’t give up too easily!
- Doubling daily productivity is realistic for me because I am increasing my knowledge and skill of my work at a higher rate than I could have ever anticipated.
- Timely: goals that lack time frames also lack urgency. When setting the time frame, set an actual number or defined period of time, like “one month” or “one school year”. Don’t just say “soon”, “ASAP”, or “eventually”. Would you rather your professors tell you “You have an exam soon!” or “You have your exam one week from today”?
- “One month from today” is a defined period of time.
Make sure your goal is written down in a way that meets the S.M.A.R.T. criteria. Next, we will use the Development Planning Worksheet. This chart should be simple enough for you to make in Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheet. Follow my lead:
I highly recommend using a digital calendar with cloud capabilities and managing your time well. This link will help you manage your time during the academic semester: http://howtostudyincollege.com/time/. While the link specifies making time for studying, it is still a great time management strategy and it will help you find time for any goals of yours.
Now you have a great sense of your short-term goals and your strategy to reach them, plus some potentially life-altering time management advice! In the next post, you will be provided reflection questions regarding the entire process of planning your journey. After that, you should have a very firm understanding of how to plan your journey as an innovative leader and outstanding college student.
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