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Goal Setting & Achievement

The Importance of SMARTER Goal Setting for Superintendents

September 15th, 2017

Personal goal setting…

Many superintendents might agree that there just aren’t enough hours in a day. And because of this, goal setting is a task that may get put on the back burner. After all you are busy dealing with changes imposed by the state, staff meetings, parents, teachers and budget cuts. However, goal setting is such an important exercise for personal growth and improvement, and it should not be overlooked. So, how can you possibly devote sufficient time and energy to identifying and pursuing your personal and professional goals in the coming year?

Picasso once said, “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”

Think about how you’ve gotten to this stage of your career. Was it pure luck or did you have a plan in place? Where do you want to go from here? And how will you know if you are successful?

Numerous studies have been published showing that when we take the time to identify and plan our goals, they are more achievable. For example, Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, recently studied the art and science of goal setting and achievement.1 Dr. Matthews studied 267 people from different professions including, healthcare professionals, artists, educators, and others. She divided the participants into two groups — those who wrote down their goals and those who did not. The results? She discovered that those who wrote down their goals and dreams regularly achieved those desires at a significantly higher level than those who did not. In fact, she found that you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams if you just write them down.

Putting Goal Setting Into Action

Personal and professional goal setting is an important exercise that requires a commitment to continuous improvement; it sets a precedence and a means to look back and track your success. Goal setting accelerates the performance of you and those around you, and it can help can help a superintendent model and foster a culture of strategy and planning. Follow these two steps…

Step One: Set a meeting with you in the next few days to plan your personal goals. Put it in your Outlook calendar, iPhone, or wherever you keep track of your schedule.

Step Two: Write down your S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals.

What is a S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal?

The S.M.A.R.T. goal concept is a commonly used management principle which dates back to George T. Doran in his 1981 publication in an issue of Management Review. It also appears in many other publications such as, Attitude Is Everything: If You Want to Succeed Above and Beyond, by Paul J. Meyer in 2003.2 S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused and time bound. The Wanderlust Worker3 added an ER to the end of SMART in order to take the approach a little further — you must Evaluate and Re-adjust your goals.

Simply stated, if you want your goals to be clear and reachable, each should be (Source:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivational)
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable)
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based)
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)
  • Evaluated (on a regular basis)
  • Readjusted (readjust your technique, adjust the goal)1

Bonus Tip from SuperEval

Did you know that the act of thinking about and writing down your professional goals now will make your annual superintendent evaluation a breeze? SuperEval’s leadership evaluation process begins with the co-creation of annual S.M.A.R.T. goals (by the superintendent and your school board). By clearly defining your goals at the beginning of the evaluation, you will help guide the process. Further collaboration happens again at the end of the evaluation process when you and the school board review your goals together to see what you’ve accomplished.

If you specifically think about goals as they pertain to your relationship with your school board, your relationship with the community, and your relationship with your employees and staff, you’ll be ahead of the game. Your superintendent evaluation will be an amazing tool to check up and re-evaluate your goals from year to year.

1. Morrissey, Mary. “The Power of Writing Down Your Goals and Dreams.The Huffington Post. 09/14/2016   

2. SMART Goals: How to Make Your Goals Achievable. Mindtools. 

3. Setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals: 7 Steps to Achieving Any Goal. Wanderlust Worker.

2 Responses to “ The Importance of SMARTER Goal Setting for Superintendents ”

  1. Anurag gothwal Says:

    Thanks for sharing this articlel

  2. David Norriss Says:

    I love how you talked about how goal setting can help a superintendent model and sets a means to track success. I think a lot of companies tend to forget how beneficial goal setting is and if they have a superintendent who keeps track of it. I hope that more businesses can follow this model and understand that superintendents are useful in more things than just construction.

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