Set your goals

Goals are something you want to achieve in the future. You set goals so you know what you want to achieve, how you are going to achieve it and by when.

Make your goals realistic and plan to make them happen. Using the iSMART approach will make your goals inspiring, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely.

Goals can be short, medium or long term. They should be flexible and personal, with the purpose of giving you direction and motivation, so that you can achieve your dreams.

A man at a wooden desk, writing a plan for future success in a note book. On the desk there is also a pot plant, pair of eye glasses and a cup of coffee.

Things to do

Learn more about iSMART goals

If you goals are well written and thought out they are much more likely to be achieved. When you set a goal, make sure it is:

Inspiring – think about:

  • your dream job
  • your ultimate life situation
  • the highest qualification you want to achieve
  • that business you want to create and establish
  • your vision for your life.

Specific – your goal needs to be very clear and focused. Consider what your dream job will look like; what level of qualification you want to achieve, and in what field; or what your business will be about.

Measurable – you need to be able to see that you have achieved your goal. It needs to have concrete measures like ‘I will have a Certificate III qualification relevant to my dream job’ or ‘I will have developed my business plan’.

Achievable – you must be able to achieve your goal. You need to be able to visualise it and see a path to reaching your goal, it shouldn’t be unrealistic. Your hard work will get you there!

Relevant – your goal should be for you, it should be something that interests and engages you.

Timely – you need to set yourself a time frame to achieve your goal. Short-term goals might be achieved by the end of next month, or within 6 months, medium-term goals within 1-2 years, and long-term goals in 3-10 years. Remember, big ‘vision-type’ goals are often long-term goals. Long-term goals can always be broken down into short and medium term goals (or steps) that will move you in the direction you want to go.

Here’s an example of an iSMART goal:

By December this year I will have completed a course at TAFE in hospitality and have applied for at least five jobs to work on a cruise ship.

And here’s one that’s not so SMART:

Get a job on a cruise ship.

Watch this video for more tips on writing your iSMART goals.


Practice writing iSMART goals

Like with most things, the more goals you write the better you will get at writing (and achieving) them.

By following these simple steps you can practice writing smart goals.

Step 1: Write down all the things you want to achieve, without worrying about being SMART for the moment. Just get them all down.

Step 2: Now look back on your list and ask yourself these questions:

  • What exactly do I want to achieve?
  • Am I being clear and specific?
  • Do I need to break my dream into smaller steps or goals to make them more achievable?
  • By what date do I want to achieve my goal?
  • Is that realistic?
  • What do I need to do in that time?
  • How am I going to achieve that?
  • What do I need to do first, second, third and so on?

Step 3: Now rewrite your list using sentences that are SMART and make sure each of them will lead you towards your overall dream goal. You might need to write three or four smaller goals in order to achieve that bigger goal.

Step 4: Each goal will need to have a set of actions to go with it so you can make sure you are on track.

Remember –  goals should excite, not overwhelm!

If you feel overwhelmed when you look at a goal that probably means you need to break it down into smaller goals. For example, the goal – in two years time I will be working in my dream job – might feel unlikely, and all too hard.

But don’t throw it away. Set some smaller goals, like:

  • Research your study and career options by making an appointment with a careers counsellor at TAFE Illawarra.
  • Find out how to get in to the course you want to do.
  • Organise your life so you can fit study in.
  • Start the relevant course.
  • Develop a study plan.
  • Gain some experience in the field by volunteering.
  • Successfully complete the course.

If you are able to achieve each of the smaller goals, by the time the year is over you would have completed your studies, gained some work experience and explored potential employment opportunities!

Download the My Goals activity sheet below and start planning your future!

Track your goals and achievements

It’s a good idea to write down your goals and actions in a notebook, on your phone or a computer. Then you can create reminders in your calendar to follow up on each of the actions.

Review your progress weekly and stick to that schedule.

If you haven’t made as much progress as you planned to, don’t beat yourself up – just reschedule the things you missed for the next week. Working step by step is the key. It may take time and perseverance, you may need to sacrifice some social, TV or online time, but you will feel great when you see the progress you are making.

If you are using an app like Evernote or OneNote for note taking and bookmarking websites, then use that tool to also track your goals. A great advantage to using these apps is the information will be available at any time and on all of your devices. Find out more about these apps using the links below and download one to start tracking your progress.

How to get started:

Step 1: In your app, create a new page or note and give it the title of My Goals. Then make a list with a checkbox and summarise your goals.

Step 2: Create tags for your goals so you can find them easily across multiple pages. For example use the tag ‘goal’ or the current year and don’t forget to use the tag ‘done’ when you’ve reached your goals.

Tip: You can also set reminders for a start date or end date.

Step 3: Once you’ve created your main Goals page, create a new page/note for each individual goal and add your key motivations and an action list. Don’t forget to update the page as you progress and achieve your goals.

Tip: Keeping your goals highly visible will help you stick to your plan and succeed.

Remember – if something doesn’t change, nothing will change.

Activity sheets

Mobile apps