by Julie Anne Peters
Every rock star, chef, and motivational speaker is writing a book about dreaming big and following your heart to succeed at whatever you envision for your life. While it’s important to believe in yourself, and even to dream huge, dreams exist in the imagination. You must come to Earth and convert your dreams into concrete goals.
Maybe it’s my business background—I have an MBA—that set me on a path toward logical thinking. The day I decided to become a writer, I devised a long-term plan to attain that goal. From project management courses and past business experience, I knew that goal-setting required breaking down seemingly impossible tasks (let’s say publishing a novel) into smaller pieces. This is where I think the value of “writing” resolutions comes in.
(I’m not this boring in person. I promise.)
Those smaller pieces are objectives, and one of the best programs for writing and evaluating objectives is called SMART. Rather than waste energy regurgitating the essence of the program (see how I’m using my time management skills wisely?), I’m going to excerpt parts from Wikipedia and add writing-specific sections.
By the way, you’re going to see how full of shit I am when I share my writing resolutions from last year.
SMART is a mnemonic to guide people when they set objectives, often called Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), for example for project management, employee performance management and personal development. Add writing here. The letters broadly conform to the words Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
To avoid litigation and give credit where credit is due, the first known uses of the term occur in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran.[1 ]
Generally Accepted Terms Behind the Letters
S = Specific or Significant
M = Meaningful, Motivational, Manageable
A = Attainable, Achievable, Action-focused
R = Relevant, Results-oriented, Realistic
T = Timely, Time-oriented, Tangible
At the end of each year my critique group, The Wild Writers (thewildwriters.com), submits resolutions for the upcoming year. We also stick pins in voodoo dolls of people who’ve hindered us in our quest toward fame, and perform various acts of symbolic burning to cleanse the bad juju that’s accumulated over the past year. But that’s another blog.
I’m sure the Wildfolk will forgive me if I use their resolutions as “teaching moments.” Cough. Ouch. Who just stuck a pin in my voodoo oil?
Here’s a resolution from one member: Write solid draft of next book.
Let’s examine how SMART that resolution/objective is:
Is it Specific? I’d say not very. What does solid mean? What genre of book? When will you know you’re done? Is it realistic to write a draft of a book in a year? It may be for you, but if you’ve never done it before (and I haven’t), I’d say you’re more of a dreamer than a doer.
Here’s another resolution: Blog at least once a month.
SMART? Blog is somewhat open-ended. I think this person could make the resolution more specific, such as blog at least two paragraphs about (writing topics, personal topics, how-to topics), to be posted on the first Friday of each month. That would give this person a more achievable objective, and let readers know when the blogs will appear. The goal of blogs (IMO) is to attract readers to you and your books. Even if you’re not published yet, your journey is fantastic fodder for a blog.
One more resolution: Keep on keeping on.
Seriously? This might be a SMART resolution for James Patterson, but most of us haven’t earned the right to blow off goal setting. In all fairness, this member of the group had most likely put off writing resolutions because life got crazy busy. You’re allowed to delay your resolutions, but as soon as time permits, shift into writing gear.
Here are my resolutions for last year. Don’t laugh.
1. Revise new book based on critique group’s comments. (Got a time frame there, Julie?)
2. Promote PROM book. (Could that be any more ambiguous?)
3. Start a new YA novel. Or not. (Wow, such commitment.)
4. Blog for The Wild Writer’s Website. (At least I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget. We do have a schedule set up where we fill in topics ahead of time, and the blog is posted every Monday morning so readers will know to look for it. See www.thewildwriters.com.)
5. Work on keynote address coming up in October. (Sure, I put in a date, but I definitely could’ve expanded on this in a SMART way.)
Take time to write Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results- and Time-oriented resolutions. Feel free to revise them as the year progresses. Writing, including resolutions, is all about revising. Life intervenes. The speed at which you can chase your dreams varies with the wind. The best you can do is to keep moving ahead. Measure your growth by evaluating your resolutions at the end of the year, and if you’ve realized specific objectives, pat yourself on the back. Stretch a few feathers in your wings. One day you’ll need those wings to send you soaring into the sky.
1. ^ Doran, G. T. (1981). There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives. Management Review, Volume 70, Issue 11(AMA FORUM), pp. 35-36.
2. ^ Meyer, Paul J (2003). “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Creating S.M.A.R.T.
Goals”. Attitude Is Everything: If You Want to Succeed Above and Beyond. Meyer Resource Group, Incorporated, The. ISBN978-0-89811-304-4. http://books.google.com/books/about/Attitude_Is_Everything.html?id=C2V0OwAACAAJ.
Read the rest of the Wiki article to find out what each of the SMART terms means in more detail.