Per corporate lore, in the 1980s, General Electric boosted productivity by developing "S.M.A.R.T." goals: the acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based.
As a “goals geek,” I love S.M.A.R.T. goals (and whoever came up with S.M.A.R.T. is BRILL).
Putting any goal through this filter means asking yourself:
Is this goal specific?
Can I measure it?
Given my resources and timeframe, is it attainable?
Is it relevant to my growth?
Is it time-bound?
If you can answer these questions with clear responses, then yes, you have a S.M.A.R.T goal.
Even though S.M.A.R.T. came out of corporate, one has to wonder: can this apply to creatives?
My answer? Absolutely.
Say, my goal was to “become a better blogger.”
Does it pass the S.M.A.R.T. test? Let's see.
Is this goal specific? Not really. (‘Better’ compared to what? And in whose opinion? Mine or someone else’s?)
Can I measure it? Not quite. See number #1.
Is it attainable? I don’t know.
Is it relevant to my growth? Yes.
Is it timebound? Nope.
Now, let’s say my goal was “to become a better blogger by writing 30 blog articles in the next 30 days."
Is this goal specific? We’re getting there. Here, we’re going to assume that becoming a writer is a going to be a byproduct of massive literary action.
Can I measure it? Yes. (30 blog articles).
Is it attainable? That depends on my ability (and the requisite procrastination).
Is it relevant to my growth? Yes. Writing (as opposed to taking a polka class) makes me a better writer (in theory at least).
Is it timebound? Yup.
As long as “becoming a better blogger” is the natural byproduct of the activity (as opposed to being the main goal), then yes, this is a S.M.A.R.T. goal.
A good bellwether for any goal is - is there a number involved? Assigning any goal a number (be it number of pages, time spent, or deadline) is the first step to make your dreams a reality.
The cool thing about a S.M.A.R.T. goal is that its objectivity counterbalances the subjectivity inherent in creation. Think of them as the lines or parameters for you to color in (or out of).