Setting and achieving goals tip #2: Set SMART goals

in writing •  9 months ago

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Courtesy of Storyblocks.com

Here is the second of ten tips to help you set the right goals and actually achieve them. Click here to read the first tip: Choose the right goal.

SMART goals are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely. There are different variations of this acronym, but this is the one I like best. Here's a break down of what each part means, and why it matters.

Specific -- Your goal needs to be clearly stated and defined. If your goal is too general or vague, you won't know you've achieved success. The more specific your goal is, the more clear your destination becomes. You'll be able to see how far you have to go and what steps you need to get there. Instead of setting a generic goal to "write more," give yourself a target of writing a specific number of words each day.

Measurable -- People often overlook the value of setting measurable targets when it comes to improving "soft skills" like writing and communication. But having the ability to measure your progress is essential. For one thing, it's extremely motivating to be able to see how much progress your making toward your goal. It also helps you to identify patterns, such as when you get the most output for your effort, and when a tactic you've chosen to try isn't working. Using the above example, if you measure the number of words you write, the amount of time you spend writing and the time of day, you can use this information to figure out your optimal writing schedule.

Actionable -- Once you have a specific goal in mind, you need to break it down into the key actions that will move you toward it. Breaking down a big goal, like writing a novel, into smaller steps makes the goal feel less overwhelming and more achievable. It's also a great way to measure your progress -- each action you check off your plan places one step closer to success!

Realistic -- There's nothing wrong with having big dreams, but if you want to succeed at the goals you set, you might need to give yourself a bit of a reality check first. For example, if your dream is to become a New York Times best selling novelist, but you've yet to write a complete paragraph, you might want to start with a smaller, more achievable goal. If you continue to do this, each success will help you gain the skills and experience you need to eventually reach your dream.

Timely -- Give yourself a deadline. A deadline for each action. A deadline for success. If you don't set deadlines, it's very easy for the things you want to accomplish someday to be pushed aside for the less important things you need to do now.

Follow @redhens to see the remaining 8 tips as they're posted, as well as other advice to help you improve your writing.

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The worst thing you can have on your to-do list is "write book" - not because writing a book is a bad idea, only because that is a job that needs to be broken up into pieces, and those pieces need to be named.

And your example is right on the money - the best thing you can do for your writing is set a daily word quota. That's a specific, measurable, actionable, and timely goal. Just make the number realistic and don't stop writing until you hit it.

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Absolutely! The other part of setting lofty goals that people need to really think about is what they hope to achieve from the goal. Because if the real goal is to be published, or to make a living as a writer, "writing a novel" may not be the best or more realistic way to get there.

I love that you say, "Those pieces need to be named." Each step toward the larger goals needs to be SMART too. Thanks for sharing!