It’s a new year and with it brings endless possibilities and opportunities. It’s a logical point in time to reflect on the year that has been and the year to come. It’s a time to consider what we hope to achieve in the next twelve months. For many of us, we set ourselves goals, challenges and resolutions.
So, it’s 2017. What do you hope to achieve? Whether you’re a writer, a reader, both or neither… If you plan to set yourself goals this year, don’t set yourself up to fail with vague, general ideas. You’ll only set yourself up to fail.
Using the principles of SMART goal- setting, you can translate the aspirations floating around in your mind, to something that’s tangible and achievable.
What is a SMART Goal?
This is what the acronym stands for:
The method of SMART goals is commonly used by psychologists, life coaches and personal trainers to help people develop clear goals and provide a pathway to achieve them.
Okay, let’s start with these two goals:
I want to write a novel.
Or, I want to read lots of books.
Great. You want to write a novel and read a lot of books. But how do you get started? Just the idea of ‘writing a novel’ or ‘reading a lot’ makes me feel nervous. They are such vague statements and need to be broken down.
Let’s start with a longer-term, general goal for the year:
I want to write a 60,000-word novel in six months.
I want to read 24 books in twelve months.
Next, we apply the SMART goal approach.
A 60,000-word novel can be further broken down into smaller goals over six months:
Write 10,000 words per month.
Write 2,500 words per week.
Write 500 words per day, five days a week.
Let’s break it down further using the SMART principles:
Specific: Write 2500 words each week
Measurable: At the end of the week word count will total 2500 words.
Achievable: Yes, I will set aside thirty minutes every morning to write 500 words.
Realistic: Yes. I will start writing at six o’clock in the morning before my children are awake.
Time-based: In six months, I can review my progress. I will have a first draft of 60,000 words.
The same principles can be applied to the ‘reading’ goal I used in the example above.
The yearly goal: Read 24 books in twelve months.
Specific: Read 2 books each calendar month.
Measurable: At the end of the year I will have read 24 books.
Achievable: Yes, I will read one book every two weeks. I will set aside thirty minutes every night to read before bed.
Realistic: Yes. I can read approximately 30 pages in 30 minutes. (An average book is about 400 pages)
Time-based: At the end of each month I can review my progress and adjust my goal if needed. By the end of December I will have read 24 books.
I’ve applied the SMART principles for the development of my own goals this year. I have a busy twelve months ahead and the best way to achieve my goals is to ensure they are specific and trackable. I have clear goals for my fiction writing, my blog and also my Etsy store. I start with general goals and deconstruct them until I have small, weekly (and daily) tasks that I can accomplish. There’s nothing more satisfying than checking off completed tasks at the end of each day!
The SMART method can be applied to absolutely anything. Whether it’s writing a novel, losing weight or saving for an overseas trip, it can help you form a clear path to achieving your goal.
What are your goals for the new year? What method are you using to keep track of what you hope to achieve in 2017?