Friday, January 18, 2019

Smart Goal Setting by Elizabeth Alsobrooks

Being a former teacher, I love the use of this mnemonic device to help people remember how to be not only a goal setter, but an achiever.  Teachers use these sorts of tools to help grade school kids all the time, but I found them almost more effective with my college kids, who needed to remember to simplify.  (There's a pun in there somewhere.) As great as this is, though, I would like to add PLAN to that Goal Setting technique. I think you need to have a SMART PLAN. Find out why. 

You can't hit a target you can't see. Work smarter, not harder.  These are all great adages that can be applied to goals. But how?

Specific is perhaps the most ignored portion of goal setting. People frequently set goals like, I want to lose weight, or I want to quit smoking, or I want to write a novel, but they don't bother to break those gargantuan goals into more specific, smaller, and thus achievable goals. How much weight? By when? How much do you want to try to lose each week, each month, etc.? How are you planning to achieve that goal? Diet? Exercise? Both? What kind? How often? If you first set the specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound goal, in order to achieve it, you need a PLAN.  Here's what I want, and this is how I'm going to get it.

Remember to be realistic too. For example, lots of folks, including me, have written a novel during National Novel Writing Month (November).  Their goal, if they are part of the growing community of writers who participate in this activity nation-wide, is to write at least 50,000 words. That's actually a novella to most publishers, but it's still book length, and a darn good start for someone who wants to keep going. That's a specific goal to help them get it down on paper, so to speak.

What follows, however, is the more complex and time consuming revision and editing process, and that's why there are so many local chapters that continue on, encouraging each other and sharing progress, trying to then reach the goal of getting the book published. For folks who procrastinate, who never finish the book because they are so busy editing and revising each little section, that is a fabulous activity. For those who feel they regurgitated a pile of crap when they write that fast, not so much.  They might do better setting smaller, more manageable goals, like writing so many words a week, then spending a day revising and editing, wash, rinse, repeat. That's the relevant part. The goal and the plan have to be relevant to you as an individual. Is it something you think you can do, or that you would even want to do? If there's no what's in it for me, it's not a very good goal for you in the first place.

But we all do have goals, things we want, or even things we need to accomplish. The best way to do this within a reasonable amount of time is goal setting using the SMART formula and creating a PLAN to achieve that goal.

Have a great new year!


Diane Burton said...

I like the meme at the end of your post. So true! Every time we emphasize SMART goals/plans, we help our readers "get it." Good post.

Nancy Gideon said...

Awesome PLAN, Elizabeth. Setting goals without focus and intention are just words on paper that frustrate and ultimately defeat you. The goal and the plan have to work together toward a result or you end up spinning your wheels and giving up. Happy New Year!

Maureen said...

I also love that meme- so true! Great tips on goal setting and so appropriate for this time of year.