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Setting the Tone for 2024

by Elena Pastore

As we prep for the new year, officer planning is a pivotal moment in the life of a fraternity or sorority. As outgoing leaders pass the torch to their successors, the focus turns to setting the stage for a successful and impactful term ahead.

One effective way to ensure that incoming officers hit the ground running is by implementing SMART goals. What we are going to focus on today is not the typical SMART goal you may have learned about in the past. This is a cool type of SMART goal.

Let’s explore how SMART goals can be utilized for successful officer transitions or simply planning for a new semester.

The SMART framework you’ve seen before probably looks like this:

S: Specific

M: Measurable

A: Achievable

R: Realistic

T: Timed

Instead, let’s shift our definition of SMART to this:

S: Simple

M: Meaningful to you

A: As if now/All areas of life

R: Responsible/Ecological

T: Toward what you want

Simple – Straightforward and Clear Objectives

Simplicity is a fundamental principle that emphasizes the power of clarity and straightforwardness. When setting SMART goals for officer transitions, keep them simple and easy to understand. For example, if an outgoing president has identified communication as an area for improvement, a simple goal for the incoming president could be to send a weekly email update to the chapter. This simplicity ensures that the goal is easily comprehensible and executable.

Meaningful – Chapter/Organizational Relevance

Each goal should be meaningful to the incoming officer. Goals become meaningful by connecting them to the chapter’s purpose and overall growth and development goals. For instance, if the outgoing treasurer aims to improve budget management, the incoming treasurer can frame the goal as a way to enhance their financial management skills and ensure the organization’s financial stability.

As If Now/All Other Areas – Embracing the Present and Wider Impact

SMART goals should be set in the present tense, as if they have already been accomplished. For example, the incoming president can set a goal to lead and foster accountability and stronger sisterhood/brotherhood/siblinghood within the chapter. You also want to make sure that the other officers and other areas of the chapter will support this goal. If a goal is in conflict or cannot co-exist with another area (finance, philanthropy, social, growth, etc) then the goal’s chances of success become slimmer.

Responsible/Ecological – Balancing Goals with Consequences

SMART goals should consider the broader consequences of their pursuit. The idea of a goal being “ecological” means that it is good for self, good for others (the members) and good for the greater community and campus. Incoming officers must be responsible in their goal-setting, ensuring that their objectives contribute positively to the organization and its members. A responsible goal might be for the incoming social chair to organize enjoyable yet safe events that increase member engagement while managing risk.

Towards What You Want – Aim for Desired Outcomes

The SMART goals should always be directed in the positive frame, towards what you want to achieve. For instance, the incoming recruitment chair could set a goal to increase the number of new members by 15% during their term. Rather than stating what you don’t want to do, like “I don’t want to keep the number of neos or new members the same”, you need to state what you do want, which is “growing the number of neos or new members by 15%.”

Here is an example of what a SMART goal may look like. It should be in paragraph form containing the elements above. Note how the tone is speaking about the future in present tense, as if you have already achieved the goal:

“By the end of my term as Vice President of Membership in December 2024, I streamlined the new member recruitment process, successfully attracting quality candidates and fostering a strong sense of community. This approach was aligned with all other chapter areas, ensuring balanced and sustainable growth. As a result, our chapter’s new member count increased by 18%, creating a vibrant and engaged community while contributing positively to the well-being of both chapter members and the campus community.”


Once you’ve written your goal, review it a few times before finalizing it. Have other officers and/or your advisor read it to get some other input to ensure it is SMART. Revise it a few times as needed, and once it’s done be sure to put it in a place that is visible. Read it everyday or once a week to keep it top of mind and prime your braid for success!

Finally, celebrate at 90%. Attaining 100% of our goal doesn’t always happen, so we should celebrate when we achieve the goal at 90%.

Implementing this new SMART goal framework can provide more clarity and focus, greater motivation, and empowerment. Setting goals for the new year is an opportunity for growth and positive change, especially when it comes to building off of the momentum from the previous year/officer.