New Year’s Goals and Resolutions: Is it Time to Reexamine Current Goals?

New Year’s Goals and Resolutions: Is it Time to Reexamine Current Goals?


It’s the beginning of a new year, the time when we all set new goals and resolutions for ourselves.  It is this time of year when people resolve to exercise more, eat healthier, get more sleep, organize, read more, or travel more regularly.  The new year gives everyone a new beginning, a way to reassess our goals and start fresh.

Listening, speech, and language goals are generally NOT set at the beginning of January to fall in line with a new calendar year, but rather are written to coincide with a new school year, date of birth, or with the onset of new technology.  However, this may also be a good time to reexamine the listening, speech, and language goals of your children or yourselves (for adults with hearing loss).

Before writing or reexamining current goals, it is important to be sure that long term goals have been set for you or your child.  For children and adults with hearing loss, these long term goals generally correspond to decisions around communication mode.  For some the goal is to communicate completely in the “hearing world”, for others it to be immersed in the world of Deaf Culture and for others it is to be a part of both.  Once the long term goal has been determined, shorter term goals must be set to reach that goal.  For children with hearing loss, these goals are often set within the IFSP and IEP.

For both IFSPs and IEPs, goals are generally written for one year, with objectives written under each goal. In some instances the objectives are benchmarks or milestones to achieve the goal (think of downs in football leading to the touchdown).  In other cases, the objectives are different skills that lead to reaching the annual goal.  Both ways are acceptable, as long as the goals are kept SMART.

The goals and objectives need to be as specific, as possible.  Make sure they are written clearly so that anyone reading it can understand the expected outcome and that it doesn’t contain ambiguous language.

The goal must be able to be tracked.  There must be a specific moment when it can be determined that the skill has been accomplished.

The goal must be attainable.  It needs to challenging, without reaching too far.  We need to keep expectations high, but not shoot for the moon.  Stretch the child’s skills, without causing frustration or loss of motivation.

The goal must be relevant to the child’s current situation and overall long term goals. It must serve a purpose.

Time Based
There must be a time frame for when the child will reach this goal.  For IFSPs and IEPs that have a built in frame, goals should be set with the idea that they can be achieved within one year.

The Weight Loss Analogy

Rather than just setting the goal to lose weight this year, you need to be SMART…

I will improve my health, by losing 30 lbs, by the end of 2015.

Specific—30 lbs is a very specific amount of weight to lose.

Measurable—Weight can easily be measured using a scale.

Achievable— 30 lbs is achievable over the course of a year, but isn’t achievable in a week.

Relevant—For someone who is overweight, losing weight is a relevant goal to keep healthy.

Time based—By the end of 2015 gives a year to lose the weight vs. 1 month or by vacation.

SMART Listening, Speech, and Language Goal Examples

The following listening, speech, and language goals provide guidance into SMART vs. Not SMART goals.  Time is not included in the below goals as the annual review is implied.  If goals are not for an IFSP or IEP, time must be included.

Example #1
Not SMART Goal
Child will increase vocabulary repertoire of nouns.

Child will increase expressive vocabulary repertoire by demonstrating the ability to label 50 objects or pictures above baseline.

Example #2
Not SMART Goal
Child will increase length of utterance to 3 words.

Using a language sample collected during a 30 minute, structured therapy session, Child will produce utterances that average 3 words in length, across 3 consecutive opportunities.

Example #3
Not SMART Goal
Child will use past tense -ed.

During a story retell, in small group instruction, Child will accurately use past tense -ed 80% of the time, across 3 consecutive opportunities.

Example #4
Not SMART Goal
Child will identify sounds in the environment

Within the preschool classroom, Child will identify the “clean up” song by stopping what he is doing and beginning his classroom job in a time frame commensurate with his peers, 80% of the time.    

Example #5
Not SMART Goal
Child will use the sound /s/ in her speech.

During the collection of a 5 minute spontaneous speech sample, Child will produce /s/ accurately in initial word position, 80% of the time, across 3 consecutive samples.

Now is as Good a Time as Any….Start The Year Off SMART

Work with your listening, speech and language therapists to reexamine goals and objectives and make sure they are SMART!


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