SMART Goals | Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic and Time-bound
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~Nath

Setting goals for your learning will give you something solid to work towards. Without a goal to aim for, you’ll spend your whole life “running up and down the field and never score”. It’s important that you set realistic goals for your language learning journey. By breaking down your goals into small enough steps, it will allow you to make consistent progress every day towards achieving them. For me, the key to setting solid goals is the SMART framework – read below to find out more:

What does SMART stand for?

That depends on who you ask. While many may disagree on what the individual letters stand for, the idea is more or less the same for all of them. A SMART goal:

  1. will stretch you
  2. will improve your situation
  3. has a clearly defined end

To me, the letters stand for Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic and Time-bound. The real question is, when you’re first starting out with Polish, how do you know which goals are realistic?

Are your goals unrealistic?

It’s also been said that there is no such thing as an unrealistic goal – only unrealistic time frames. If you think that your goal isn’t achievable in the time scale that you’ve assigned to it, either assign more time to achieve it or simplify your goal.

It’s important to make sure that whatever goals you set, that they are realistic, time-bound and ambitious. They should also be specific, so that you know when the goal is achieved, plus measurable. It’s imperative that you have a way of keeping track of progress.

Why you need to be SMART when setting goals

Rather than saying “I want to be fluent in Polish”, you should create a SMART goal which is specific, measurable, ambitious, realistic and time-bound. A SMART goal could be “I will memorise all of the basic greetings in my phrasebook by next Tuesday” or “On 21st June next year, I will speak only in Polish for 24 hours.” This goal is specific (speaking only in Polish), measurable (if a single non-Polish word is uttered within that 24 hour period, then the goal hasn’t been achieved), ambitious (achieving this goal will involve some effort), realistic (it is possible to acquire the skills to achieve this goal before 21st June next year) and time-bound (the skills to achieve this goal must be acquired before 21st June next year).

Are your goals too ambitious? Break them down

You can always break your goal down into even smaller SMART sub-goals. For instance, you may have a sub-goal of “On 12th January next year, I will speak only in Polish for 4 hours” or “By 7pm on Tuesday, I will have added 100 new sentences into Anki.” These smaller milestones will help keep you on track to achieve the bigger goal. The great thing is, even if you don’t achieve your main goal, providing that you remain persistent and work towards your sub-goals every single day, you will still make progress with your Polish.

[alert-warning]TL;DR: Set SMART goals for your Polish learning – goals which are Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic and Time-bound – and break them down into smaller steps to give yourself a daily battle plan to conquer the language.[/alert-warning]
What’s your SMART goal?
[alert-announce]My current SMART goal is to pass the Polish C2 exam with at least a “Dostateczna (C)” (Satisfactory) grade by 1st August next year. Tell me your SMART goals in the comments![/alert-announce]

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