The SMART framework offers a helpful roadmap for developing goals and action plans that are realistic, clear, and carefully written, with results that you can measure.
What do you intend to do? For whom? How will you do it?
- Be specific. Instead of saying you will “facilitate” student learning on a particular topic, state how you will help students learn about the issue. Will you host trainings? Will you fund-raise to buy materials and books about the topic?
- Decide on two or three main goals. Identify the who, what, when, where, and why of how you will achieve these goals. This process will help you create an action plan with a solid foundation.
- Ask yourself: What are the smaller actions associated with each main goal? Identity the who, what, when, where, and why of these smaller actions.
How will you measure the progress and success of your activities?
Ask questions like what data will you collect to show if you are making progress toward your goals? Deciding how to measure progress is important. This measurement will help you understand if your actions are really helping the issue you want to address.
Can you achieve your goals with the resources and time you have? If so, how?
Talk to others who have tried to address a similar problem or who started a similar program. Ask them what resources they needed. This information can help you decide if you have set your goals too high (or too low) or if they are just right for the time and resources available.
Know your YAC’s limitations. If the YAC members do not have enough time to help with all the activities, who else can work with you? For example, a community-based organization with similar goals could partner with your YAC.
Make sure that your timelines are realistic given everyone’s availability and responsibilities. Be careful to not ask your YAC members to devote too much time. Consider everyone’s availability for each task as you write your action plan.
Be clear in deciding what people will do:
- Talk with the youth and supportive adults who will implement the action plan. How much can they do? Adjust your plan, if needed, to make sure that the commitment you want from everyone is reasonable. Help everyone agree on the expectations of what and when.
- How will you ask people to meet their commitments? For example, should youth be prepared to contribute a certain number of hours per week or a specific number of time slots each week?
- Clearly state how youth and adult members will work together on tasks. Your goal should be to make sure that there are no misunderstandings.
Will the results further your mission?
Ask: Will the steps in your action plan produce an impact on your issue? Are you reaching the population you want to reach? Do the available resources support your course of action?
Remember: Your goal should be twofold: make sure your actions are helping the issue and are in line with the mission and values of your YAC.
When will you accomplish each objective?
Develop a reasonable time frame and stick to it. You need to set deadlines, or time limits, for your objectives to achieve your goals. If you do not set limits, you may harm the population you want to serve by delaying reaching your goals. You could also damage the reputation of your YAC.
When deciding on a time frame, remember to think about the resources you have and the time each YAC member can devote. It is helpful to break up objectives into smaller tasks, each with its own deadline. This makes projects manageable and will help everyone stay on track.