Achievement: Smart Goals Lead to Success (Class 21)

Straight-A Guide Job Training Program

Lesson #21: Achievement

SMART Goals Lead to Success

Materials Required:

  • Classroom space
  • Sufficient number of chairs with writing surface
  • Blank sheets of paper for each participant

Introduce Lesson #21 (5 minutes):

  • Everyone who proceeds through the community-based, job-training program that Straight-A Guide Staffing Solutions offers has at least one thing in common. We’ve all been processed through the criminal justice system. Our initial sponsor is the Michael G. Santos Foundation, a nonprofit that had its birth from inside of a federal prison. The organization advanced because the leaders behind it adhered to a disciplined, deliberate strategy. Their values-based, goal-oriented decisions led to the team’s being able to collaborate with others and create something out of nothing. Each step of the way, the team celebrated incremental achievements. In this lesson we will share long-term strategy for growth and show participants how to do the same with their life.

First steps (10 minutes):

  • Take roll of participants.
  • Facilitator distributes the handout titled “Writing SMART goals.” He then goes over each of the objectives on the handout and explains how he uses the SMART approach to work toward an objective in his life at the present time. Facilitator may use the approach from any aspect of his life that aligns with the values by which he professes to live.

Goals and Objectives (5 minutes):

  • Facilitator aspires to teach participants how to use the concept of writing SMART goals, and using this strategy to achieve a higher potential in every area of their life.

Expected Learning Outcomes (5 minutes):

  • Facilitator expects participants to grasp the concept of using the SMART technique to advance their career prospects. To the extent that they write SMART goals, they will have a new tool to help them sustain energy through challenges ahead and to celebrate incremental achievements.

Preliminary introduction (5 minutes):

  • Facilitator says that he will use the Michael G. Santos Foundation as a case study for setting SMART goals. The organization had its start when Justin Paperny was confined in the same federal prison as Michael Santos. Michael Santos had been incarcerated for longer than 22 years at the time and he expected to serve another six years before release from the Bureau of Prisons. During the decades that Michael had served, he followed a disciplined, deliberate path to overcome the challenges associated with a long prison term. Justin admired the disciplined approach to problem solving because it transformed his life during the time he served and because he witnessed many other prisoners using that same approach to become more than the bad decisions of their past. He and Michael set a goal of building an organization that would allow them to teach the principled way of life to others.

Direct Instruction (10 minutes):

  • Facilitator uses blackboard to describe the SMART approach that Justin and Michael would pursue.
    • Specific:
      • They had a specific vision of creating an organization that would help more people with criminal backgrounds return to society as fully functioning law-abiding citizens. In order to build such an organization, they would need financial resources. Without financial resources, they would not be able to devote themselves full time toward the effort. They set an immediate goal of raising resources that would allow them to earn a living while simultaneously creating products that would help them teach and spread the message.
  • Measurable:
    • Justin had specific responsibilities in the organization. He would have to coordinate with others to file the appropriate paperwork to persuade the Internal Revenue Service to grant his organization status as a public charity. He also would have to locate groups that might consider funding the initiative.
    • Likewise, Michael had specific responsibilities. He would have to write all of the content that Justin would rely upon to show others the vision. That content began with writing corporate vision statements, then to grant applications, then to literature and lesson plans that would help the two teach others.
  • Achievable:
    • Both Justin and Michael moved forward with an absolute commitment to build the organization. They envisioned the creation of an organization that would be bigger than them. The organization would persuade more offenders to embrace the values-based, goal-oriented approach to living that would result in higher levels of success.
  • Realistic:
    • Justin and Michael understood that if they took incremental action steps, they could persuade others to support the organization. Rather than focusing on what they did not have, they focused on the resources available to them. By deploying those resources shrewdly, they could leverage their way higher, making incremental achievements along the way.
  • Timely:
    • Justin and Michael had to work within clear timelines. They had to establish the nonprofit corporation and obtain approval from the Internal Revenue Service. They had to write grant requests and persuade charitable organizations, individuals, and businesses to sponsor them with financial resources. They had to write and publish a series of books and workbooks that would help them teach their principles to others. They had to establish a staffing company that would meet employer requirements when those employers were reluctant to hire people with felony backgrounds. They had to design and write the curriculum for a training program that the employers would buy into and that the participants would understand. They had to coordinate a team of facilitators who would teach the program and authenticate participants as being 100 percent committed to living a law-abiding life, contributing life.

Guided Practice (20 minutes):

  • Facilitator asks each participant to write out a SMART goal for one area of his life.
  • Facilitator breaks class into small groups and asks the small groups to discuss the goals identified.
  • Facilitator calls upon one group spokesperson to reveal a SMART goal that the group decided was most impressive.

Lesson #21 SMART Goals Lead to Success

When establishing a goal, follow the SMART acronym:


  • Be specific about what you intend to achieve.


  • Make sure that you can quantify success. Issue as many criteria for success as possible. Use timelines, costs, percentages, or any metric that will help you gauge your progress.


  • Set goals that are within your power to achieve. You should have both long-term and short-term goals. Each of those goals should advance your prospects for success.


  • Make sure that you have the capacity to achieve the goals that you aspire to achieve. For example, it may not be a good idea to set a goal of growing two feet because no one has the capacity to influence such growth. On the other hand, a determined man can set the goal of achieving an educational credential, or a specific level of fitness.


  • Set clear timelines that will define success. If you do not meet the timeline, then readjust. Remember that SMART goals are tools that people use to achieve a higher potential.