How to Make Your Writing Goals SMART


Last year one of my goals was to open a Twitter account.  IMG_4050

On December 31, 2011 I posted my first tweet. I don’t think I would have done that if I had only thought or even said to myself that I should start tweeting. I knew it was something that would help my writing career; social networking builds platform, right? But without a clear, specific, measurable goal, I would have gone on thinking about something I should do, but probably wouldn’t have done it or at least not for a long time.

This week I met another goal!

I submitted my first proposal to an agency. Again, while I knew it was the next step, and headed in that direction, it took a specific, measurable goal to accomplish it. My writer friend encouraged me to submit it within a few days of us talking or wait until after the holidays. That specific deadline challenged me in the best way to take care of something on my writing list in a timely matter. Without a measurable goal, you know the story…I’d probably be sitting here working in short bursts of “shoulds”. Instead, I have a proposal sitting in an agent’s office. (Thank you Sherry!)

But how do I make my goals S.M.A.R.T?

Most of us self-motivators have heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals, introduced by Paul J. Meyer in Attitude is Everything.  These goals are: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.  Let’s see how we can convert some “shoulds” into SMART goals.

Instead try: By the end of this year, I will open a Twitter account and post my first tweet.

This is a specific, measurable and time-bound goal because I listed a particular action to be accomplished within a set time period.  At first, a Twitter account didn’t seem attainable because I’m not very accomplished with technology, but as it didn’t require a degree or special class, I could attain it by simply checking into it. The goal became more relevant as I blogged and wrote more to build a platform.

  • I should learn my craft.

Instead try: I will attend at least one writing conference this year and practice writing by turning out 1,000 words per day. Or I will subscribe to Writer’s Digest and read each issue to learn my craft; and I will practice by writing 500 words per day.

You can see that naming an action like attending a course or subscribing to and reading a magazine and actually writing a specified number of words each day is specific, measurable, relevant and time-bound. Attainable may depend on your finances or time so adjust as your resources allow. If you need to work an extra three hours per month to save money for a conference, that can be an additional goal.

  • I should work on my novel.

Instead try: On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I will spend two hours writing my novel. Or, I will edit my novel from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. every morning until its finished.

  • I should look for an agent.

Instead try: By (fill in date), I will choose five agents from the list on Michael Hyatt’s website.

  • I should submit a proposal to said agent.

Instead try: By Friday of this week I will submit my proposal to the first agent of five on my list. After three weeks, if I have not heard anything, I will submit to the next agent. (Make sure these agents accept simultaneous submissions.)

 

I think you get the idea. Make it specific, doable and with a deadline.

Happy writing!

What ways have you made goal setting work for you? Has this post been helpful? I’d love to hear from you!