SMART goals

Learn how to set SMART goals to succeed at university and beyond.

 tōia haumatia 

Nothing can be achieved without a plan of attack

Why set goals?

Goals are a great way to stay focused and work out what’s important. Having long-term and short-term goals can help you be more productive and get more out your time at university.

Goals can be big or small, long-term or short-term.

  • Short term (Today, this week, this month) – Finish an essay; get a part-time job.
  • Mid-term (This semester or year) – Improve GPA; get an internship.
  • Long-term (1-5 years) – Finish your degree; post-graduate study; graduate programme; travel.

Start with ideas

Some examples of goals might include:

  • Keep on top of the readings each week.
  • Get accepted into Law School at the end of this year.
  • Become fitter.
  • Get a part-time job.

Below are some ideas to help you find inspiration:

Once you know what you want to achieve, turn your idea into a SMART goal.

What’s a SMART goal?

Using the SMART goal system will help you to set concrete, measurable goals:

  • Specific: Add specific details so you know what you’re aiming for.
  • Measurable: Make sure you know if you have achieved your goal or not.
  • Achievable: Use your goal to stretch yourself, but not so much that you feel overwhelmed and give up. Is the goal realistic?
  • Relevant: Make your goal meaningful. Why is it worthwhile? What are the benefits of achieving it?
  • Timely: Give yourself a deadline to complete the goal.


Once you have some concrete goals you can start breaking them down into smaller, more achievable steps.

Short-term, modest goals: I will do all my readings every week.

Is it SMART?

Specific: Every Sunday I will make a list of readings and schedule time to complete them.

Measurable: I know how much I have to read.

Achievable: I can tick off each reading as I do it.

Relevant: The assigned readings are based on a reasonable workload expectation.

Timely: Every week.

Mid to long-term goal: Get into Law School at the end of this year.

Is it SMART?

Specific: I’m accepted into Law

Measurable: I’m either accepted or rejected.

Achievable: Pass LAW 121G and LAW 131. GPA of B+ to A- for all papers.

Relevant: I want to study law so I can influence policy and create change in the future.

Timely: End of this year.

Try it yourself

Think of something you would like to do or a goal you would like to achieve. Use this worksheet, Setting SMART goals, to turn that idea into a SMART goal.

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