Are Creatives S.M.A.R.T.?

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:

  1. Is this goal specific?

  2. Can I measure it?

  3. Given my resources and timeframe, is it attainable?

  4. Is it relevant to my growth?

  5. 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.

  1. Is this goal specific? Not really. (‘Better’ compared to what? And in whose opinion? Mine or someone else’s?)

  2. Can I measure it? Not quite. See number #1.

  3. Is it attainable? I don’t know.

  4. Is it relevant to my growth? Yes.

  5. 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."

  1. 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.

  2. Can I measure it? Yes. (30 blog articles).

  3. Is it attainable? That depends on my ability (and the requisite procrastination).

  4. Is it relevant to my growth? Yes. Writing (as opposed to taking a polka class) makes me a better writer (in theory at least).

  5. 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).

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