How To Start 2022 On the Right Foot: Setting SMART Goals

With 2022 rapidly approaching, it’s the perfect time for students to reflect on the last year and start to think about setting some goals for the year ahead. Not only does goal setting early on help with motivation levels and increases focus, it also provides students with a sense of direction and a more ‘can do’ attitude throughout the next year at school. However, defining specific, reachable goals isn’t as easy as it looks and it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Using SMART goals is a helpful way for students to make the goals they want to set much clearer, relevant and most importantly achievable. Here’s how you can help students set SMART goals for 2022, so they can start the new year on the right foot.

What are SMART Goals?

SMART is an easy to remember acronym that you can use with students to help guide them through the goal setting process. Put simply, using SMART will help students break down all the essential parts required to achieve real success. For example, most goals need specific timeframes and measurable steps for students to be able to keep track of their progress.

Specific: What is it that you want to accomplish? Usually answers the 5 W’s (Who? What? Where? When? Why?)

Measurable: How will you know when the goal is accomplished?

Attainable: Is it realistic?

Relevant: Does this goal meet a need?

Time-bound: What is the deadline for meeting this goal?

Setting SMART Goals


When setting goals, students need to remember to try and be as clear and specific as possible, otherwise it will be difficult to focus their efforts and they’ll probably feel a lack of motivation, especially if the goal is too broad. For example, working towards achieving a specific grade is a much clearer goal to focus on rather than just trying to improve in that subject area. Put simply, the more specific the goal is, the more focused students will tend to be.


  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why do I want to accomplish it?
  • When do I want to achieve it?


It’s important for students to set goals that are measurable, so they can track their progress as well as stay motivated in working towards completing the steps to get there. Being able to assess progress also helps increase focus and enables students to meet their deadlines they’ve set for themselves, as they can feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving their goal.


  • How much do I need to do?
  • How many do I need to do?
  • How do I know when I’ve reached my goal?


One of the most important things for students to consider when goal setting is making sure they’re realistic and also attainable. In other words, the goals they set themselves should stretch their abilities, but still remain possible. If students aren’t sure if a goal is possible, it’s a good idea for them to speak to parents and teachers, who will be able to assess their abilities, resources and timeframe available to them.


  • How can I accomplish this goal?
  • Can I realistically do it in the time frame I have?
  • Am I able to commit?
  • Have others in the same position done this before?


Goals should be personal for students and even more importantly, actually matter to them. Not only will they be more interested in working towards them, they’re more likely to put in the effort and be successful in achieving them. It’s also crucial for a student’s goals to align with other goals they’ve set, so they’re working towards a bigger picture overall.


  • Am I interested in this topic?
  • Is this the right time for me to achieve my goal?
  • Am I the right person to reach this goal?


Every goal needs a target date so that students have a deadline to focus on and something to work toward. This part of the SMART goal criteria also helps to prevent everyday tasks from taking priority over focus from longer-term goals. Time restraints can also be useful against procrastination, as it can push students to take action as the time frame provides a sense of urgency.


  • When is the start and finish date?
  • When will I need to achieve this goal?
  • What can I do six weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?