Productivity: Goal Mindset

I’m a very goal-oriented person and I like having things to work toward. I used to make bad goals, and no surprise, I often failed, until I came across SMART.

Have you ever heard of SMART goals?

I’m not talking about intelligent goals, ones that are actually achievable. I’m talking about the acronym, SMART. I keep seeing memes and posts around the socials talking about New Years Resolutions and how most of them are broken. You’ve seen them, too, I’m sure.

While I get that they’re supposed to be funny, I’ve been reading so much about leadership and goals lately that I can’t help but think “the reason they failed is because they probably violated one of the SMART steps”.

So what are SMART goals and how do we set them? How will that help with our overall writing goals?

Specific

First, the goal needs to be SPECIFIC.

Write More is a bad goal. It’s super vague. Also, you’d need to know how much you’re already writing (and really, if ‘write more’ is the goal, current level of writing is probably something like ‘not much’, right?)

Write a new article
Edit one chapter
Write a new poem

These are REALLY specific and helpful in pushing you toward your goals, but they’re not enough yet.

Measurable

In order to know whether you’re moving toward your goal, the progress needs to be measurable. You have to be able to track it somehow.

Write a new article PER WEEK.
Edit on chapter PER MONTH
Write a new poem EVERY DAY.

These are measurable – one article, one week. One chapter, one month. One poem, one day. This can be spreadsheeted (my favorite, personally) or just checked off in a journal or log.

Achievable

Next, the goals needs to actually be achievable, that means something you can finish.

Write More isn’t achievable because there’s no end point you’re moving toward.

But, one article per week is. Or editing one chapter per month. Or writing a new poem every day.

If your goal isn’t something that you can achieve, it’s a bad goal.

Realistic

To be honest, I think this is where MOST people fall into trouble. If you’re anything like me, you have a tendency to overestimate what you’re capable of accomplishing in a given time.

Write 3 articles a day and submit 5 per week (maybe if this all you do, totally achievable)
Edit one chapter a day
Write 5 poems a day

While these may not seem like astronomical numbers, sustained over a period of days, they quickly become impossible to maintain. If it’s the ONLY thing you need to accomplish in a day, then these are probably completely do-able, but if you’re like most of the world, you may need to eat or sleep or run errands or care for kids/pets/family, and all the OTHER things that come with being alive. Heck, even just getting a cold (like I have right now) is enough to throw EVERYTHING off track.

So when you set your goals, be VERY conscious of how much you’re trying to accomplish in a given time frame. If you *think* it’s doable, double the time frame to begin and go from there.

Time-bound

Lastly, good goals need an end point.

Write More has no time frame involved.

Write a new article PER WEEK.
Edit on chapter PER MONTH
Write a new poem EVERY DAY.

These time frames give you a chance to start fresh every cycle.

For example, if you want to finish editing your novel this year, you can break that down into smaller chunks to give yourself smaller wins until you hit the BIG WIN of having edited your manuscript (again). Maybe you break it into word count (edit 5000 words a week) or pages or chapters – choose what works best for you.

To round up here, goals are a really good thing and I’m sure writers (and nonwriters alike) have plenty of them. With the plethora of broken resolution jokes, I know people need just a touch of help in achieving them. Your chances of succeeding will skyrocket if you can take 30 seconds to SMARTen up your goals. I know mine did.

What do you think? Have you heard of this? Do you use it?