By Miriam Bernard


May is a time of year when our attention collectively turns toward the accomplishments of students, and we get to show pride at the various accomplishments achieved for those completing numerous educational programs. During  this season celebrating learning, we consider this a perfect time to think about the concept of goal-setting, and the myriad ways it can enrich the lives of all people, including and especially those with DCCs.

It’s easy to have a dream, or a far-off target of what one wants to achieve, but the small steps between where one stands currently and the end result of that dream can feel daunting! How does one make reaching a goal more manageable? One way is to get SMART! Setting “SMART” goals is a proven, effective way to reach small and large goals, especially in individuals for whom it can be difficult to grasp an abstract, distant goal. SMART goals help turn lofty dreams into achievable and manageable plans.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. Here is a handy explanation of how each defining quality of a SMART goal makes it more tangible:

Specific – Your goals should be specific and concrete. It is easier to create strategies if your goal is specific and easy to define.

Measurable – After setting a specific goal, you will need to make a way to measure your progress towards the goal. How will you know how close you are to your goal? You will need to be able to answer that question.

Achievable – An achievable goal is a goal that can be reached. Some goals are just not possible. Perhaps a large dream feels too lofty, but several smaller steps can help make it feel more reasonable.

Realistic – Realistic goals are goals that have the ability to be reached by the individual making them. Can you get your goal done? Do you truly care about the issue?

Time-bound – Time-bound goals are goals that have a clear deadline. Having deadlines makes it easier to plan, and will move goals along more efficiently because you can plan in advance. Set an end date and small check-in dates along the way!

Why Use SMART Goals?

  • The SMART parameters are proven to make goal-setting more approachable
  • They help make sure that you will achieve a goal, and in a sensible time-frame
  • They allow one to measure their successes, which will make it easier to proudly share what you’ve accomplished and inspire others to do the same
  • They help address specific details around goals, which lead to a well-organized set of goals and greater achievement.

This season, whether you or your family member have a simple plan for your educational journey, or something more grand, spending time to think about goal-setting, and how to make those goals WORK for you is a worthwhile endeavor! No matter where you find yourself on your educational path, the NODCC wishes you every success, and encourages you to rely on the assistance of loved ones and your own inner tenacity to reach the educational milestones that are right for you!

More Resources:

SMART Goals – Quick Overview (note – uses “Actionable” instead of“attainable”):

SMART Goals: