Most people that have spent any time in a Corporate or Government environment are familiar with ‘SMART Goals’. SMART stands for:
At my job, all employees are required to come up with three SMART Goals at their annual evaluation. It is recommended that we provide one long-term goal (over one year) and two short-term goals (less than one year).
I recently attended a training on Goal Setting and it has gotten me thinking. Perhaps the reason I have not met some of my personal goals outside of work is because 1) I have not been specific enough about my goals and 2) I have not written them down. Having my goals written out helps to motivate me to accomplish them and provides a tool with which to measure my progress and evaluate my successes. It’s a strange thing, however, even though I absolutely agree and support this philosophy, I have a very difficult time doing it. At work, it’s a bit easier, since setting SMART Goals is simply another part of my job, which is to say, it’s not personal. Formally writing and formating ideas for others to review is my job. Plus, I have a clear understanding about where I want to go in my career and how to get there. I have trouble being formal or specific in my personal life, partly because I have a wide variety of interests, but mostly because I am lazy. I have never really had a much of an idea about what I want from life, I just sort of go with the flow.
Which brings me to my writing ‘career’. Right now, writing is simply a hobby. Nobody is paying me for it, so I don’t take it seriously. This is a problem, of course, because if I don’t treat writing like a job, it will never become one. So, I am going to stretch myself and set some SMART Goals. Let’s see how well I do.
Specific – I will write a complete novel by the end of the year.
Measurable – I estimate that the novel will be about 100,000 words.
Achievable – If I average only 500 words a day, I can complete the novel by Thanksgiving. I’ve already hit nearly 400 words in this post at this point and I’ve been typing and editing as I go for about forty five minutes, without an outline, so at least 500 words a day seems doable.
Realistic/Relevant – Well, if I want to be an author, I need to write at least one story. The ultimate goal of becoming a successful writer would not be realistic if I didn’t complete the novel. This goal’s relevance is obvious.
Timely/Time-Based – To be perfectly honest, this is way past due. If I had completed this goal timely, I would have written this book several years ago. Alas, this is all part of my journey. It is timely now because I am choosing to start again now. Time-based is, again, obvious (deadline 12/31/2008).
Now, my manager suggested using ‘i + 1‘ when setting goals, where i represents a quantifiable goal and 1 represents stretching. For instance, if the goal is to lose 10 pounds, try to lose 11. In this case, it would not be realistic for me to write two novels this year, so I will modify my goal to complete one novel by the end of the year and begin work on a second one.
I plan to set a least 7 to 10 goals (not all of them related to writing) over the next couple of weeks, which is in itself a SMART Goal, so be on the look-out.
(By the way, this entire post is 643 words long and took about one hour and fifteen minutes to write.)