Saturday, December 17, 2016

Writing S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals

Success takes planning. And planning means that to achieve success in your writing you need to set down some goals. And right now—the end of the year—is the best time to do that.

For an easy and efficient way to write down your goals, use the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. acronym. Each letter directs you to one of the seven elements of writing goals in a way that makes sure that you cover all of them and get to your end result. So what does each letter stand for?

“S” Stands for “Specific”

Note your intention and describe precisely what you want to do. The more detailed you are, the better. By writing down specific details, you’ll find it much easier to plan the progress of your writing career. If you can’t visualize what you’ve written, then it’s not specific enough for a goal.

“M” Stands for “Measurable”
Decide how you’ll know you’ve completed a goal. Tracking your progress motivates you to take appropriate actions so that you continue to progress. The more successful your progress, the more motivated you’ll be to do the next step, and so on. Creating  clear milestones will allow you to benefit from recognizing and celebrating your work.

“A” Stands for “Attainable”
Stretch the comfort zone of your abilities, but be careful not to overdo it. Goals you set beyond your true abilities slow down your progress. You end up going on a guilt trip for not achieving them even though they were unrealistic for your abilities or the current level of your career.

Before you set down any goal, be sure to assess your capacity to achieve it. Make sure you possess the skills and the resources required to take the next step. If not, what do you have to do, learn, or add to make this happen?

Setting goals that are too difficult will definitely discourage you to move on. Setting them too low tells you that you aren’t capable. So set the bar high enough for a feeling of achievement when you do succeed.

“R” Stands for “Realistic”
Make sure you have the determination, habits and willpower to do what it takes to reach your goal from where you are at the moment. What will you realistically do regularly so that you move from where you are now to closer to where you want to be? Do you have the drive to write, the discipline to do it in a business-like manner, and the consistent work habit required to succeed as a writer? If not, what do have to do to change your attitude or expectations?

“T” Stands for “Timed”

When setting down goals, timing is all important. Give yourself a deadline so you can schedule actions and milestones. Putting an end point to your goal gives you a clear point on the horizon to which you can work. Set a time frame to take these actions and review your results as you go. If you don’t set a timeline, your commitment will be too vague. The goal doesn’t happen because you feel you can start at any time. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now. There’s no driving need to take specific actions at specific times.

When will you take these actions, and at what intervals will you review your results? If you’ve done the task before, you’ll have an idea if your time estimate is accurate. If you don’t sufficient experience with a task or action, you should triple your time estimate. Do you need to complete the actions in a particular sequence? Do any of the actions depend on the actions of other people? Will their schedules fit yours? How can you build in some extra time to make sure your timing isn’t too tight?

“E” Stands for “Energy”

Decide to concentrate your energy to work on your goals. Use your energy in a way that feeds your motivation to keep going towards the end results you desire. You may want to get an article or short story published, but doing everything but getting down to writing either of them and it will be too late, especially if the article or story is timely.

“R” Stands for “Rewards for Results”
Give yourself a reward for persevering and achieving your results and acknowledge what it took to get them. To keep yourself motivated, jot down what you’ll do when you achieve your goal. Something as simple as calling a friend to share your satisfaction or taking yourself out for an extra special treat are examples.

Having a series of milestones creates a situation where progress seems to “pull you forward.” One success builds on another. This not only gives you a solid feeling but the  confidence to set even higher goals. Your confidence builds your competence as you build your success. And remember, at the end of the quarter or the year, review your accomplishments. You may just surprise yourself.

No comments: