With a new year comes new energy, excitement, expectations, and goals. Maybe this is the year that you’re finally going to get that novel finished, or get your company’s blog up and running with regular posts. The start of another year can bring the fresh perspective that will propel you to success!
But not all New Year aspirations are created equal. How many of us have developed massive aspirational visions in January, only to abandon ship by the end of the month? I’ve been there, and my writing, not to mention other goals, has suffered from making New Year’s Resolutions I couldn’t meet. It’s not all bad news, though. Once I discovered SMART goals, I learned to develop writing and other personal goals that I met, time after time. Thanks to SMART goals, I wrote a book, consistently meet my writing deadlines, and regularly maintain my blog.
Here’s what SMART goals are, and how to use them to make business or personal writing goals this year that you’ll achieve!
According to Project SMART, SMART goals originated in the early 1980s in Washington State, US with management consultant George T. Doran. Doran created the system to help businesses make goals they knew they could achieve. The SMART system works equally well if you’re writing for a large corporation, your own small business, or for pleasure.
SMART is actually an acronym standing for the following words:
Let’s break down the five components of SMART goals, and how to make writing goals using each one.
To be effective, goals need to focus on an objective that’s easy to define. If goals aren’t distinctive and identifiable, they simply become wishes. Desiring that we’ll be happier or more productive or better writers is akin to the sliver of hope that a child feels when she wishes on a star. To turn a desire into an actual goal, it needs to be concrete.
Are you hoping to write more this year? Just saying you want to write more isn’t a goal that’s effectively specific. Instead, make a goal to complete that short story collection you’ve started, or to re-draft that employee manual your department desperately needs to update.
Now that your goal is specific and targeted to an aspect of your writing, it’s time to make it quantifiable! Goals are easier to attain when we can measure our progress. This is why writers get the most done when they create word or page count goals.
When I first started this blog, I made a goal to make monthly posts. Had I made an unmeasurable goal just to blog more, I would’ve had more difficulty getting inspired by ideas and sitting down to write. Since I’ve made that measurable commitment, I feel a personal sense of accomplishment when I see those consistent, monthly date stamps on my blog page.
Unless you’re starring in a Hollywood blockbuster, a magical fairy probably isn’t going to come down and do your writing for you. And if you don’t know who’s going to complete the goal, it’s likely no one’s going to get it done. This is particularly pertinent if you work with a team or at a business with multiple employees. Make sure you assign who’s going to write that new manual or website copy!
This aspect of SMART goals also can show you when you need to outsource work. Sometimes solo entrepreneurs will realize they don’t have time to get their blog updated, or they’ll discover no one on their staff is qualified to edit a writing project. If this is you, it’s a great opportunity to outsource and assign your goal to a content writer or editor.
This is the step of goal setting where you need to get really honest with yourself. You can make a SMART goal that’s otherwise perfect, but to achieve it the goal still needs to be something you have a good chance of attaining. Otherwise, you’re just setting yourself up for major disappointment.
For example, what if you want to write a novel, but you work 60 hours a week? Can you realistically finish a novel in your spare time? Only you know what’s realistic for our circumstances. I write my blog monthly, rather than weekly, because I know I have enough other projects on my plate that consistently writing a weekly blog isn’t realistic.
This step is also a good opportunity to make sure goals are in your control. Making a goal that your new website copy gets top marks from visitors, or obtaining a literary agent or short story publication, isn’t realistic because the benchmarks are at least somewhat out of your control. Instead, focus on goals that are fully in your hands.
Ever had a project that drags on endlessly? As the weeks, months, and even years pass by, you can start to lose motivation and perspective. This is why SMART goals are time-limited and usually relatively short (a year or less), or longer-term goals broken into smaller sub-goals.
This is where the all-important deadline comes into goals. Have a realistic goal for when you’ll finish your draft, or get that website completely relaunched. There’s nothing more satisfying than completing a goal on time – or even early!
SMART goals are the ultimate antidote for New Year’s Resolutions that up the frustration instead of the success. If your goals this year don’t seem SMART enough, there’s still time to redefine them. Let’s make this year filled with SMART writing achievements!
Contact Kacie for more information about how content writing services can help your business meet its goals this year.