This week: SMART Goals Edited by: Jeff
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"You never know what you can do until you try,
and very few try unless they have to."
-- C.S. Lewis
About The Editor: Greetings! My name is Jeff and I'm one of your regular editors for the Noticing Newbies Official Newsletter! I've been a member of Writing.com since 2003, and have edited more than 350 newsletters across the site during that time. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me via email or the handy feedback field at the bottom of this newsletter!
In the November 1981 issue of Management Review, George T. Doran published the first-known reference to what he described as "S.M.A.R.T. goals" or goals that are Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-related. While he was writing from a corporate management perspective, the mnemonic acronym stuck and has become a very popular guide to general goal setting. The words associated with each letter of the acronym have changed over the years and there are multiple interpretations, but the most popular version (which has a more personal goal-setting angle) has ended up as follows:
This kind of intentional planning can be a great way to accomplish goals and set habits. For example, if you want to write more in 2023, maybe you say, "I want to write at least 250 words a day." That provides a specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound task that is easy to track whether or not you succeed. It's also a small enough goal that it probably qualifies as an "atomic habit" for most people, and if you're interested in habit breaking/formation, Atomic Habits by James Clear is one of my favorite books on the topic. But this kind of goal, because of its particulars, becomes something defined and therefore presumably easier to accomplish because you're not dealing with some kind of nebulous, unmeasurable goal like "write more this year" which can be interpreted a number of different ways.
If SMART goals aren't your thing there are a variety of other acronyms you can choose from. Inc. Magazine published an article in 2015 that suggested creating CLEAR goals (Collaborative, Limited, Emotional, Appreciable, Refinable), and since 2012 there have also been PURE goals (Positively-stated, Understood, Relevant, Ethical). The ABCs (Achievable, Believable, Committed) of goal-setting are also popular among motivational speakers and the like.
There is some debate about the effectiveness of this kind of goal setting for specific tasks. For example, there is quite a bit of evidence to support the idea that nonspecific, open-ended goals like, "see how far I can ride a bike in 30 minutes" or "how fast can I run a mile" are beneficial for increasing physical activity. But I'd argue that even those goals are SMART in nature because they it's a specific goal that is measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
The key with all of these goal-setting mechanisms is that they require you to be intentional and specific about what you're trying to accomplish. Setting generic goals like, "I want to lose weight/get in shape," or "I want to write more," or "I want to get out of debt" are unlikely to be successful long term because their lack of definition allows us to either (1) get frustrated and give up because we aren't seeing instant results, or (2) declare the goal has been met at the first sign of success when developing a long-term habit is the ultimate objective.
If you're working on your entry for "Dear Me: Official WDC Contest" this month or otherwise thinking through what you want to accomplish in 2023, I'd highly recommend you consider thinking it through in terms of the SMART Goal framework, where you're assigning yourself specific and measurable goals in a way that allows you to track your progress and develop a regular habit.
Until next time,
If you're interested in checking out my work:
"New & Noteworthy Things" | "Blogocentric Formulations"
This month's official Writing.com writing contest is:
I also encourage you to check out the following items:
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