iTeach ISLAM Staff

Who would have thought that there was a sunnah to goal-setting?
While no scholar has yet to claim it, it may just be that SMART goals are tied to the Prophetic tradition. Consider what SMART stands for--Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Then, consider the way in which the Prophet conducted his affairs and that of his community.
To give an example from the hijra, in which Muslims needed to flee from Mecca to escape persecution. The goal stemming from this problem could have been as vague as "finding a place to live and practice Islam in peace." But it was in fact more specific, and it was thus reached. The goal was to emigrate to Medina (Specific and Measurable), in groups at night-time to avoid persecution (Attainable), in order to practice Islam freely and in peace (Relevant), at the time specified by the Prophet (Time-bound).
Goal-setting can be done in a multitude of ways, but SMART goals stand out from the rest because they help you map out your route before you embark on your "hijra" to the goal, while allowing you to assess how successful you were with the goal, due to its time-bound nature.
The difference between a SMART goal and a regular goal is significant. Traditionally, an administrator may create a goal that goes something like this, "My goal is to create learning opportunities for my teachers throughout the school year." Although this goal has a focus (learning opportunities) and general time frame (this year), it is difficult to measure.
A SMART goal reframes the goal so that it sounds more like this, "My goal is to establish a monthly learning seminar for teachers to be held the first Monday of the month for the 2011-2012 academic year."
Unlike the previous goal, this one specifies the type of learning activity and the specific days on which it would take place. Now, measuring whether or not the goal has been met is as easy as flipping through the calendar to see if the seminars were truly held or not.
Goal-setting is an important task not only for teachers, though, who may be accustomed to creating unit and lesson plans that help them and their students achieve state- or school-mandated "goals" (read: standards). It is an equally important skill for us to consciously teach to our students. In this light, the "Copy This!" on p. 10 of the newsletter provides a concrete way for students to begin practicing goal-setting.
The Prophet Muhammad advised us to "Live in this world as a traveler or stranger." When discussing goal-setting, this hadith is especially pertinent. A traveler has a destination in mind. Without a destination, he wanders aimlessly, potentially traveling in circles with no clear route or path in mind. Similarly, a goal is a destination that is consciously chosen as a point that one would like to reach within a given time and using a specific path. Let us all resolve to set SMART goals in light of the Prophet's example. With this strategy and daily duas that specifically ask for Allah's assistance in achieving the goals, you will find them attainable and your life filled with more successes, inshallah.