Strategic Planning to Reach Your Goals in 2017

This year, we owe it to ourselves to accomplish the goals we plan out.

How many times have you planned a goal, only to fall short of where you wanted to be?

For a few of us, coming up with goals or resolutions each year has often led to feelings of not being good enough (after not meeting them). So our team set out on a path in search of popular goal-setting strategies that exist and see how some inspiration, planning, and public accountability might work for student affairs and higher education professionals.

It’s finally time to put the pedal to the medal and set specific intentions aligned with goals so you can look back at the year and feel an awesome sense of achievement.

Keep reading about awesome strategies and inspiration we’ve found and feel free to share thoughts on what has worked well in goal-setting for you with us on Twitter!

Why Set Goals?

We all have different reasons for why we decide to set goals. Goal-setting is an important part of facilitating growth and development in our lives.

When we make the time and effort to think about our lives and our future actions and our life plans, setting goals can really speak some of those visions and ideas into existence.

We also set goals when we enter new life experiences.

For example, I started my first post-grad position almost six months ago and now that I have some time under my belt, I have ideas on how I could make an impact in my role on campus and in my professional career. Another reason that’s pretty common for many of us is when a new year comes, it’s a fresh opportunity for us to do and be better.

Sharing Our SMART Goals

A study done by Dominican University on goals showed that people who wrote down their goals, created an action plan, and used one accountability friend, allowed them to complete more of their planned goals (76% to be exact).

SMART goals are one of the longest-lasting ways ways to set a framework to achieve your goals.

The acronym SMART stands for:

S – Specific – The more specific you can be with writing down your objective, the easier it will be to clearly see what it is you need to accomplish. Often, answering the five “W” questions—Who, What, Where, Why, and Which—can help you achieve greater specificity.

M – Measurable – Can your goal be measured? How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal?

A – Attainable – Another way of putting this is “realistic.” Is it possible to achieve the goal you’ve set for yourself?

R – Relevant – For businesses, a relevant goal means that it has the potential to impact your business objectives, vision, or values.

T – Time-bound – Give your goal a deadline.

To inspire your own SMART goal creation, our team decided to share our own SMART goals for 2017! 


Here is one of Kayley’s SMART goals for 2017:

Broad goal: I want to start my own blog.

(S)pecific: I will write my content on WordPress.
(M)easureable: I will be ready to write my first blog post in 4 weeks and I aim to write every 4 weeks after that.
(A) ttainable: I will get set up on WordPress first. Then I will build 5 outlines of posts to share for the future.
(R) elevant: Sharing my writing will help me reflect on my career, share knowledge, and allow me to build a stronger online network.
(T)ime-based: My WordPress site will be up and running with one post in 4 weeks and I will have 11 posts on my site by the end of 2017.

SMART Goal: In order to help me reflect on my career, I will start my own blog on WordPress by writing 1 post every 4 weeks in 2017. I will have 11 posts by the end of year, which will allow me to have a stronger online network.

We found that about half of our team who participated never created a SMART goal, or were unsure if they had.

Here’s the prompt they received:

Share 1 SMART goal related to higher education, student affairs, or your career for 2017.

“In 2017, I am looking to develop leadership development programming on my campus for women of color. I will observe and talk with students to learn about the campus climate and their needs in the spring semester. During the summer 2017 semester, I will begin to develop plans for a leadership development workshop series for women of color with hopes to roll out the series in the Fall 2017 semester.”

Karyn Dyer, Assistant Director of Archer Center of Student Leadership @THEKarynDyer

“To help me move forward in my career, I will create a professional development plan with one goal in each month in 2017. I will have 12 completed courses, attended events, and/or books read by the end of year, which will allow me to be a more competitive candidate as I move up at my current job.”

Dustin Ramsdell, @HigherEd_Geek

Broad Goal: Become better-versed in relevant issues/topics/challenges in the higher ed field.

S: I will read industry publications and participate in social media forums.
M: I will allocate 10 minutes each day to reading articles and engaging in conversations regarding the content. Additionally, I will participate in weekly industry chats on twitter.
A: I will identify news sources, and set up bookmarks for each page to facilitate searching out content.
R: Being familiar with relevant issues will help me continue to stay connected with the field, and engage in critical conversations with professionals.
T: I will identify and set up bookmarks for news sources by January 10, 2017, and use the same deadline for updating my calendar with relevant social media forums.

In order to deepen my understanding and awareness of hot topic issues within the field of Student Affairs, I will allocate time each day to read and research industry publications, as well as participate in industry social media conversations on a weekly basis throughout the first four months of the year.”

A.J. Guedouar, Campus Outreach Coordinator, @Tampa_Bae_J

“To help with the success of our team, I will dedicate at least two hours each month to creatively improve the strategies we use to onboard and retain employees through better processes, transparency, inclusivity, and other methods I will obviously discover during that time.”

– Reuben Pressman, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, @reubenpressman

“To advance my career in accordance with my professional goals, I will apply for admission to doctoral programs at a max of two institutions. I will gather all necessary materials and complete the process by appropriate deadlines or by the end of November 2017.”

– Joe Levy, @joebookslevy

“In order to help me reflect on my experiences and demonstrate my professional/personal knowledge, I will start my blog January 6th, 2017. I will then post every two weeks, being held accountable by my posting/topic calendar. From this I look to increase my personal and professional network circles.”

– Meghan Hakey, Campus Outreach Coordinator, @MegAHakey

And we’re not done yet… we’re going to check back in with each of our team members in a few months to see their progress on their SMART goal.

Share your SMART goal with us on Twitter and we’ll add you to this post!

Progress Equals Happiness

Kayley talks about her lineup of motivational podcasts and referenced a quote that resonated from speaker, Tony Robbins.

“I enjoy listening to humans who help me reach my own goals. Right now, I’m trying to listen to one podcast a day to inspire me to be better in every aspect of my life.”


What does ‘progress equals happiness’ mean?

It means that no matter the goal, as long as we are making progress towards it in baby steps, we will feel happy about our actions. After all, it’s better than not trying to achieve the goal at all.

Change may feel like it needs to happen overnight, but we need to remind ourselves that it doesn’t. Progress helps us ignite change and actually accomplish it over time.

While material items make us feel good in the moment, they don’t tend to have a long-lasting impact on our overall happiness.

Your Thoughts!

Let’s focus on the process rather than the end result. In focusing on the present, we will get to where we want and need to be.

What is one SMART goal you’ve set for 2017?

Use the template above and share with us at @THEKarynDyer, @kayleyrobsham & @CheckImHere! Thanks for reading ?

Karyn Dyer

About the author: Karyn is a student affairs professional at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, poet, and social justice advocate. Connect with Karyn on Twitter @THEKarynDyer. Learn how we can help get your students involved.

Check I'm Here is now Presence. Learn more about this change in our blog post here.