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Key to Korean #6: Follow my example for setting and tracking SMART Goals


What gets measured gets done. – Peter Drucker

Previously, we’ve looked at the importance of planning and how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. Today, we’ll look at my specific goals for learning Korean, as well as the third critical step to getting things done: tracking (or measuring) your progress.

My S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Korean

S: Specific:
  • I will pass Level 2 on the TOPIK test this July (2013).
  • I will pass take the Intermediate TOPIK in July 2014 (and hopefully pass with level 4).
  • I will take the Advanced TOPIK by the end of 2016 (and hopefully pass with level 6).
  • I will do this so that I gain more opportunities. Speaking Korean fluently will not limit me to only forever being an English teacher.
M: Measurable:
  • I will measure my progress with the tests: TOPIK 초급, 중급, 고급
  • I will study one new book every half year. Next on the list: Korean Grammar in Use: Intermediate (2013 fall), Essential TOPIK 150 (2014 spring), “외국인 위한 문법 (어휘) 연습 (연세댜 출판)” possibly after that.
  • I will write out 10 sentences per grammar rule in each book.
  • I will learn 1,000 new vocabulary words (about 108 per week, or 12 per day) for each of the books I study.
  • I will reassess and create new S.M.A.R.T. goals when I reach this level.
A: Attainable:

The above goals are attainable, though challenging. I’ve been studying Korean quite a bit recently and have discovered that:

  • It is possible (though challenging) to go through about two books per year (effectively) – plus two TOPIK preparation books. After each “Learning” phase with a new book and new grammar rules, I can go into a “Mastering” phase where I try to use, apply, and solidify what I’ve learned.
  • It is possible to learn 10-15 new words per day.
  • It is possible to write 10 sentences per grammar rule (and about one rule per day).
  • It is possible (and helpful) to create a vocabulary (and grammar) list with each book (by highlighting words in my dictionary in different colors to not reuse too many of them on subsequent lists).

Some people make the mistake of thinking that something is going to be easier than it is. Some people also say things like, “I’ll pass one more classification of the TOPIK test (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced) each year” but then don’t write down specific and progressively measurable goals to effectively track their progress.

R: Relevant:

For me, this goal is incredibly relevant.

  • I have many skills that aren’t being put to good use as a conversational English teacher.
  • I want to use my expertise and degrees in my work.
  • I want to gain experience in a professional Korean company and take that back to America to continue working in the same field (not return to ESL in America).
  • I feel stuck in my opportunities in ESL.
  • I’m upset at my “stuck-ness” but, anger is a great way to fuel your passion for something.
T: Time-bound:

Measuring my progress in relation to time will come in three ways:

  1. By completing one new Korean book and one TOPIK book every half year.
  2. By memorizing 1,000 new words and 100+ grammar points per book (some will be review).
  3. By taking the TOPIK test every July (at least).

Additionally, my wife is currently measures my progress as we go through each book. She gives a weekly quiz based on the previous week’s vocabulary, and a midterm and final test. In this way, we are both able to watch and assess my progress as I go.

Tracking it

As you can see from the above, my goals are (1) very specific, (2) very measured, (3) very personal, and (4) very progressive. You need goals like this, with baby-steps as well as long-term plans, in order to effectively track your progress. Think too long-term, and you’ll get burned out when you look at the massive size of your dreams. Think only short-term, and you’ll have no guiding direction or motivation to push you beyond the short-term.

Now, tracking my goals is as simple as printing this out and keeping it in my notebook or at the side of my desk. I can daily refresh my passion and motivation by reviewing these S.M.A.R.T. goals, and I can check them off (progressively) as I complete them. And as I progressively check off my goals, I’ll receive a small jolt of adrenaline from the sense of satisfaction from completion (not to mention the nifty TOPIK “Pass” certificates).

Remember the quote from above? A more complete understanding of tracking goals would be as John E. Jones said:

As this series of posts continues, we’ll look at the importance of assessment, as well as the psychology of motivation.

Have you written out your specific, progressive goals with baby-steps to motivate you and long-term plans to guide you?

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2 thoughts

    1. Thanks, but you know this is just a plan, not a building. While buildings are set in stone, plans change. These are goals with hopefully enough milestones and motivation to get me through, but my progress might actually end up being slower than I hope. What are your goals?

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