Skip to main content.

Specific

A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six "W" questions:

*Who: Who is involved?
*What: What do I want to accomplish?
*Where: Identify a location.
*When: Establish a time frame.
*Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
*Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

EXAMPLE: A general goal would be, "Get in shape." But a specific goal would say, "Join a health club and workout 3 days a week."

Measurable

Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goal.

To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as......How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?

Attainable

When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.

You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you build your self-image. You see yourself as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.

Realistic

To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress. A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force. Some of the hardest jobs you ever accomplished actually seem easy simply because they were a labor of love.

Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. Additional ways to know if your goal is realistic is to determine if you have accomplished anything similar in the past or ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal. 

Timely

A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there's no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs., when do you want to lose it by? "Someday" won't work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, "by May 1st", then you've set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.

T can also stand for Tangible

A goal is tangible when you can experience it with one of the senses, that is, taste, touch, smell, sight or hearing. When your goal is tangible you have a better chance of making it specific and measurable and thus attainable.

Retrieved from topachievement.com June 2, 2011

Suggested Activity/Discussion Topics for Goals Setting

First year students are often uncertain of their goals and may not have much experience in developing action plans to meet a goal. The suggestions below can be used to lead a discussion or provide guidelines for one or more small group or writing assignments.

1.   Long Term Goal - Encourage students to think long term about their goals. Even students unsure of their major will have an idea about their desired lifestyle and the level of success they want. Students can brainstorm answers to these questions and share them with a partner, small group, or the class as a whole.

  • Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
  • What kind of work are you doing? What is the career you have?
  • Why was choosing this goal important to you?
  • What satisfaction does it provide, other than money?
  • What relationship does this class have to reaching your goal?

2.   Intermediate Range Goals – Sometimes, students can’t see beyond a few years. In that case, encourage students to think more in terms of the UMD experience. They might write a journal entry to answer these questions:

  • What do you need to accomplish in the next 2-5 years in order to reach your long-term goal or to help you formulate a long term goal? For example, do you need to explore one or more areas of interest? Who can help you do this? What kind of information will be helpful to you?
  • What do you need to do to do this year to make progress toward defining a goal or toward focusing your efforts? For example, can you identify the resources available to help you make decisions?

3.   What is your short-term academic goal for this semester? – one paragraph

  • State at least one goal specifically: “I want to get an A- in ENG 101” or “I want to get a 2.5 GPA.” It is not acceptable to say, “I want to get good grades,” (because “good” is not specific) or “I want to learn as much as I can” (because that is not specific).
  • Make sure the goal is something you can complete by the end of the semester. It is not acceptable to say, “I want to learn as much as I can at UMD” because you’d need more than one semester to accomplish the goal.
  • Make sure the goal is measurable. For example, you could say, “I want to earn at least a C+ in Accounting” because you could measure your progress with each quiz/test grade. It is not acceptable to say, “I want to work as hard as I can” or “I want to earn good grades” because you can’t measure your progress (how much is “hard as I can”? If I get a 70 on a test, is that “good”?).

4.   Plan to Achieve Your Short –Term Semester Goal – one paragraph

  • What strategies will you use to help you reach your goal? BE SPECIFIC.
  • Examples:
    • Study 2 hours every day
    • Go to the Writing and Reading Center for help
    • See my instructor during office hours
    • Study with a friend
    • Use the Cornell note taking method (info in Writing and Reading Center)
    • Use content maps to organize information to study
    • Create a monthly assignment calendar to plan to meet due dates for all courses.
    • Create a weekly study schedule that lists specific courses/projects you will work on.

Personal Development Plan

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Student Name: __________________________        Date: __________________

There is a direct relationship between how well you follow a specific, four-year personal development plan and your ability to meet professional objectives upon graduation. The purpose of this project is to enable you to create, follow, and mark progress in college by using a personal development plan. Although you will complete this planning process during your first semester, you will be encouraged to follow through on implementing and revising your plans by utilizing the support network dedicated to sustaining your growth and success in the personal development process during each subsequent semester.

Write Your Vision Statement (Image of the ideal. It is future looking, inspirational, and creates the most desirable scenario):

Write Your Mission Statement (A brief, clear, concise statement of your purpose and desires, and the primary methods through which you intend to fulfill that purpose. It is somewhat uplifting but more practical than the vision.) 

First Year: Rank Number the top five tasks that fit your priorities this year:

RankTasksNotes
  Explore majors/ Declare Major  
  Know requirements for your program of study  
  Maintain desired GPA of ______  
  Improve academic Skills  
  Utilize academic support services  
  Explore careers/ attend career events/ panels, etc.  
  Get involved in campus activities  
  Improve your employment situation  
  Locate financial resources  
  Connect with faculty and advisors  
  Improve your living situation    

Write 3 Goals for your first year including objectives and action plans for each goal

  1. Goals: Statements of desired future states, long-term and possible, and based on mission and vision. Typically few in number, with a target date.
  2. Objectives: Short-term, specific, measureable outcomes statements
  3. Action Plans: Series of short-term tasks to be completed that will result in the achievement of the objectives or outcomes.
Goal 1:
Objectives:
Action Plan:
Goal 2:
Objectives:
Action Plan:
Goal 3:
Objectives:
Action Plan:

Second Year: Rank Number the top five tasks that fit your priorities this year:

Rank: Tasks: Notes:
  Explore majors/ Declare Major/minor  
  Choose courses to build employability skills  
  Know requirements for your program of study  
  Maintain/Improve GPA to desired goal:________  
  Improve academic skills  
  Explore careers/ attend career events/ panels, etc.  
  Get involved in campus activities  
  Locate financial resources/ scholarships  
  Connect with faculty, advisors, and alumni  
  Conduct information interviews/ job shadows  
  Research internships/ study abroad opportunity    

Write 3 Goals for your first year including objectives and action plans for each goal

Goals: Statements of desired future states, long-term and possible, and based on mission and vision. Typically few in number, with a target date.

Objectives: Short-term, specific, measureable outcomes statements

Action Plans: Series of short-term tasks to be completed that will result in the achievement of the objectives or outcomes.

Goal 1:
Objectives:
Action Plan:
Goal 2:
Objectives:
Action Plan:
Goal 3:
Objectives:
Action Plan:

Third Year: Rank Number the top five tasks that fit your priorities this year:

Rank: Tasks: Notes:
  Review requirements for your program of study  
  Maintain/ Improve GPA to desired goal:_______  
  Choose courses to develop marketable skills  
  Serve in leadership roles in campus activities  
  Participate in internships/ study abroad  
  Volunteer for work related to your field  
  Research graduate school requirements  
  Ask faculty/ employers for references  
  Locate financial resources/ scholarships  
  Write your resume and get a critique  
  Attend Career Exploration Events/ Panels    

Write 3 Goals for your first year including objectives and action plans for each goal

Goals: Statements of desired future states, long-term and possible, and based on mission and vision. Typically few in number, with a target date.

Objectives: Short-term, specific, measureable outcomes statements

Action Plans: Series of short-term tasks to be completed that will result in the achievement of the objectives or outcomes.

Goal 1:
Objectives:
Action Plan:
Goal 2:
Objectives:
Action Plan:
Goal 3:
Objectives:
Action Plan:

Fourth Year: Rank Number the top five tasks that fit your priorities this year:

Rank: Tasks: Notes:
  Maintain/ Improve GPA to desired goal: _______  
  Complete a capstone project or field experience  
  Serve in leadership roles in campus activities  
  Take graduate school admissions tests  
  Apply to graduate/ professional schools  
  Use networking to develop job leads  
  Attend professional association meetings  
  Volunteer for work related in your field  
  Ask for letters of recommendation  
  Revise and target your resume  
  Complete your career portfolio    

Write 3 Goals for your first year including objectives and action plans for each goal

Goals: Statements of desired future states, long-term and possible, and based on mission and vision. Typically few in number, with a target date.

Objectives: Short-term, specific, measureable outcomes statements

Action Plans: Series of short-term tasks to be completed that will result in the achievement of the objectives or outcomes.

Goal 1:
Objectives:
Action Plan:
Goal 2:
Objectives:
Action Plan:
Goal 3:
Objectives:
Action Plan:
bg

UMass Dartmouth Virtual Tour

Visit us virtually: There’s nothing like being on campus. But, for now, take a virtual tour of UMass Dartmouth.
Go to virtual tour