One Will Never Have To “Work Hard” If They Set SMART Goals

Erika poses in front of a tree.

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Healthy Campus Initiatives. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanHCI on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Ever heard the saying “Work smarter, not harder?” Well, it’s a phrase that holds true. Here’s why: If one works harder, they will only exert their utmost energy and end up left on E like a car without gasoline. However, if one works smarter, then they work more strategically and thoroughly.

Working hard can only get one so far. That’s why setting SMART goals is conducive to success. Whether or not one believes it, there is such a thing as “SMART” goals. Smart goals are very effective game changers to some individuals who use them. Personally, they have worked for me, and I’ve been able to benefit from them ever since. 

Erika poses next to a tree.

According to author Thomas Rutledge from Psychology Today, SMART goals were actually created using an evidence-based formula. “SMART” stands for: Specific—clearly identifying the goal, Measurable—defining the goal in measurable terms, Attainable—choosing goals that are realistic and manageable, Relevant–making sure the goal is something that is important to oneself, and Time-bound—defining the time frame during which one will achieve the goal (Source: Thomas Rutledge). This method requires that one apply each step to a particular goal. SMART goals are convenient because they can actually be used in all aspects of one’s life. 

Some examples of how one can use this method are for the gym if one wants to set up workout routines or start a workout plan/program, academics and test taking, job/apartment hunting, cleaning routines, starting one’s own YouTube channel, saving money, spending and budgeting, etc.

A really simple example of how I used SMART goals over this past year was by connecting it to my New Year’s resolution of growing my hair out. I have always cut half of my hair off each year since freshman year. For my senior year, I decided to do something different. Since I haven’t had my hair long in such a long time, I figured to keep it growing until I graduate to see my overall hair growth progress in a healthy way.

Erika poses in front of a tree.

The way I set this up was: Specific—no cutting my hair, only small trims and growing it the longest it’s ever been, Measurable—since I will be slightly trimming my hair each month, I will give myself until the end of this semester and the next to grow my hair the longest it’s been before, Attainable—I’ve grown my hair out before so I know I can do it again with additional length this time around, Relevant—I focus a lot on my haircare since I do believe it is my best feature so it is significantly important to me because I can style it in many ways, Time-bound—I will utilize this whole year of 2021 going into 2022 as a timestamp. So far this year, I’m still going strong on growing it out and I’m proud of it because learning to manage a specific hair type or hair in general is similar to that of a chore.

SMART has helped me grow my hair out strategically rather than putting loads of products in my hair and expecting instant growth. Growth takes time and I now think of SMART goals as my accountability partner, which have improved my skills and time management overall.

Reference: Beyond SMART: An Evidence-Based Formulate for Goal Setting

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Story by:
Erika Morales Sanchez, senior psychology major from Bergen County, NJ

Photos by:
Rachel Rumsby, junior communication studies and public relations double major

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