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Lecture 3 Planning Your Graduate Education Roadmap
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." - Benjamin Franklin 

3.10. What is SMART for planning?

SMART is a framework used for setting and achieving goals in a structured and effective way. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Here is a breakdown of what each of the SMART criteria means:

  • Specific: Goals should be well-defined and clearly stated, so that you know exactly what you are working towards. This means answering the questions of who, what, where, when, and why.

  • Measurable: Goals should have objective and measurable outcomes, so that you can track your progress and know when you have achieved them. This means defining concrete metrics or indicators that you can use to evaluate your success.

  • Achievable: Goals should be realistic and attainable, given your resources, skills, and constraints. This means setting goals that are challenging but still within your reach, and avoiding setting goals that are too easy or too difficult.

  • Relevant: Goals should be aligned with your personal or professional aspirations, values, and interests. This means setting goals that are meaningful and important to you, and that will help you grow and develop in a direction that matters to you.

  • Time-bound: Goals should have a specific timeframe or deadline, so that you have a sense of urgency and can prioritize your efforts accordingly. This means setting clear start and end dates, and breaking down larger goals into smaller milestones or checkpoints.


By using the SMART criteria, you can create goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, which can help you focus your efforts, stay motivated, and track your progress towards your desired outcomes.


Below is an example of a SMART goal for a graduate student:


Specific: The goal is to complete a literature review on a specific research topic in the field of psychology.

Measurable: The goal is to read and analyze at least 30 research articles within a three-month period.

Achievable: The goal is realistic and achievable within the three-month period, given the student's current workload, research skills, and available resources.

Relevant: The goal is aligned with the student's academic and career aspirations, and is relevant to their research interests and the field of psychology.

Time-bound: The goal has a specific deadline of three months from the start date, with a clear plan to read and analyze at least 10 articles per month.


By setting this SMART goal, the graduate student has a specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound target to work towards, which can help them stay motivated, track their progress, and achieve their desired outcome of completing a literature review on their research topic.


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