“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”

– Pablo Picasso

Daniel’s squishy goal of “finish my novel,” had just been reenergized by connecting with his “why.” As discussed in our last post, not only was he working on a book that he personally wanted to read, but he had people waiting in eager anticipation to test read his first draft. He saw that he needed a better strategy and made a SMART goal.

SMART is an acronym used to help develop measurable (non-squishy) goals.

Daniel’s original goal of “finish my novel” was specific and a great starting place – his problem was that he stopped there! He also needed specificity in how he was going to carry that out.

To get those specifics, he compared his project to a book of similar length. The first Harry Potter novel had 76,944 words in it. That number divided by 365 days equals roughly 210 words per day – now that’s something he can measure.

This reminds Daniel to connect with his why. By connecting his goal to the big purpose – sharing the end result with people that are excited to read the content – this adds a layer of excitement and energy to the process. It keeps Daniel focused on the result, and motivated.

Note: Some lists will use the word Attainable. This works, but I prefer Aspiring as it provides the needed motivation.

For the Attainable scenario: Daniel knew that his personal average daily word count was around 400 to 600 words per day, so if he set his goal to at least a minimum of 300 – not only was it doable, but at that rate, he’d have a completed novel in less than a year.

How will he celebrate? What is the payoff for finishing this project? For Daniel, the payoff was two-fold. First, the satisfaction of actually completing this longstanding project. Second, the satisfaction of having it in the hands of eager readers.

Note: Some lists will use the word Realistic. I prefer Reward as it connects with our biology. Brain science has proven that when we “reward” ourselves for putting in the effort, it creates a positive feedback loop – we like it so much that we want to do it again. That Reward will not only keep us motivated for the current goal, but will encourage us to make other goals in order to get other rewards.

For the Realistic scenario: Is 300 words a day realistic? What about holidays, time out with friends, or any unexpected interruptions to daily life? What happens if he misses a day or two? Is 300 words too much to double up if he misses a day or two? Ultimately Daniel decided to keep it even if he fell a little behind. Setting the goal of 300 words per day was at least a line in the sand and something he could measure himself against.

Daniel’s goal now had a deadline and milestones. He knew his daily goal, and with that he could measure from month to month whether or not he was on track for the year.

How can you be SMART about your goal making? Don’t forget to connect it with your why, and motivate yourself with reward! What is your why? What is the reward for achieving your goal?

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”

– Proverbs 16:3 (ESV)