Posts Tagged ‘setting goals’

Vivian Kirkfield has asked me to participate in her “Goal-Busters” blog series by sharing some of my goals for 2014 along with how I plan to achieve my goals and how I will reward myself. I believe the post will go live on Monday, February 3. In the process of answering her “Goal-Busters” questions, I mentioned SMART goals, and I thought it might be helpful if I explain via my blog what a SMART goal is.





Timely or Time-based


Specific – Setting a specific goal increases ones chance of achievement. General goals are too broad in scope. There is no clear vision to focus on. Specific goals pinpoint exactly what you are going after. To determine your specific goal answer the following questions:

Who:      Will I do this alone or will other people help me achieve my goal?

What:     Exactly what do I want to achieve?

Where:    Where will I work toward this goal? (home, work, gym, school, library)

When:     What time frame will I commit to?

Which:    Exactly what is required (skills, money, materials, etc.) to succeed, and what limitations or constraints need to be put in place?

Why:      Exactly why do I want to achieve this goal? What is the purpose? What does it mean to me? What are the benefits? What will I gain by achieving this goal?

EXAMPLE:  A general goal would be, “I will read more picture books.” A specific goal would be, “I will read 500 picture books and complete 24 mentor text studies in 2014. Every other week, I will borrow and read 21 picture books from the library, and each time, I will use at least one book as a mentor text to improve my pacing skills.

Measurable –Determine how you can measure your progress. It is not only important to measure your progress at the end of your goal. It is equally important to measure your progress as you work toward your goal. By doing this, you will know if you are on track to achieving what you set out to do, or if you need to adjust something to ensure your success.

Ask yourself: How much? How often? How many? How will I know when my goal has been reached?

EXAMPLE: In my ‘specific goal’ example above, I had a measurable end goal of 500 picture books read and 24 mentor text studies completed in 2014. I also had a smaller measurable goal of 21 picture books read and one mentor text study completed every other week. I could have also set it as a monthly measurable goal of 42 picture books read and two mentor text studies completed. I could of went smaller with – During my two week period, I will read two picture books a day, and complete my mentor text study during the remaining three days. Focusing on smaller goals will eventually add up to achieving the larger goal. The smaller goals seem more attainable, and with each success, the larger goal will seem more attainable as well.

Attainable – It is important to be sure that your goal is achievable. If the goal is too lofty, for example, read 500 picture books a week, it is most likely not an attainable goal. If you live in a rural area and the nearest public library is five hours away, going to the library twice a month, might be an unattainable goal.

When setting a SMART goal, you first need to believe that you can manage everything that you are setting out to do. If you set a goal that is unbelievable to you, you will most likely be unable to achieve that goal.

Your SMART goal also needs to be possible. If you set a goal to read 500 picture books and you have no affordable or obtainable access to picture books, no matter how much you would like to do it, your chances will be slim. Of course, you may find a way around it, so let’s try another example. If you set a goal to make 500 books magically appear by using your mind, you won’t achieve it no matter how hard you try. Okay, some people may believe that to be possible as well, but I think you get the picture by now.

My above examples of unbelievable goals are based on my belief system. When you consider whether your goal is possible or impossible, it is important to make your plans based on your own standards and understanding of your personal abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Do not let other people’s beliefs limit you or your own beliefs about what is achievable for you.

Realistic –  A realistic goal must be formed around an objective that you are willing and able to work toward. Setting a lofty goal can often be easier to achieve than a small/easily attainable goal because the challenge of a big goal can be a motivating force. But if the goal is so big that it is not realistic or it is unattainable, it might be time to rethink things.

Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe you can succeed. Another way to determine if you are setting a realistic goal is to ask yourself if you have ever achieved anything similar in the past. You might also go back to that “WHICH” question:  Exactly what is required to succeed, and what limitations or constraints need to be put in place? What conditions would have to exist for me to succeed? Are these requirements, constraints and conditions realistic?

It can sometimes be tempting to do something simply because it is easy, sounds like a good idea, or might be fun to try. This often results in finding that the action you have taken has no long-term importance to what you truly want to achieve. This is what I call distractions. Ask yourself: Is this goal important to, and in line with, my long-term vision/mission?

Some people who teach about SMART goals use the word relevant for the R word. They say that a goal must be relevant to what you want to achieve in the short term and the long term. Using Relavant as the R word encourages goal-setters to understand their personal vision, mission and purpose – see the whole picture – when setting a SMART goal, or any goal for that matter.

Timely or Time Based – A goal with no established time frame is far less motivating than a goal that is grounded within a time frame. Time frames provide a sense of urgency. If you simply stated that you want to read 500 picture books. You could still be working on (or thinking about) that goal in the year 2034, if you are still living. By knowing 21 books need to be checked out of the library this week and read within the next two weeks, your unconscious mind is set into motion, planning to begin working on that goal.

Considering a time frame overlaps with the SMART goal step “Specific.” It is emphasized as an individual step to drive home the importance of including this strong motivator in your goal plans. Having a deadline prevents procrastination. It has been said that a goal is a dream with a time frame. Dreaming it is not doing it. Doing it is meeting that deadline with a specific plan.

Some people who teach about SMART goals use Tangible for the T word. To me, tangible ties in with the question “WHY” because if the goal feels substantially real/material, the benefits are much easier to identify. A goal is tangible if it can be precisely identified or realized by the mind; if it can be appraised at an actual or approximate value; or when it can be perceived or experienced through one of the senses: taste, touch, smell, sight or hearing.

Tangible goals make it easier to make the goal measurable, and in the end, attainable.

If you are struggling to set a SMART goal, it could be because your future plans (mission/vision) are not clear enough. It would be a good idea to work at getting a clear vision of what you truly want and then go back to setting your SMART goals.

Taking time to identify goals that are most important to you will help you figure out ways to manifest your vision. Focusing on the steps of setting SMART goals can heighten your awareness of exactly what is required to realize your goals.

When you plan specific steps to your goal and establish a time frame for executing those steps, you can attain most any goal you set. It is my hope that taking the steps I have outlined above will expand your ability to reach goals that you may have thought previously unattainable. Stating goals clearly with specific steps will increase your confidence. You will realize that you are capable of achieving your dreams, you are worthy of that success, and you have what it takes to live your vision.

With every decision you make throughout your day, stop and ask yourself:

Does the action I am about to take move me closer to my goal, or further from my goal? If the answer is “closer to,” you are heading in the right direction. If the answer is “further from,” you have another decision to make.

How is your goal specific? What makes it specific? What makes it measurable? How will you measure your progress? Is it attainable? Why? Is it realistic? Why? Is it relevant? Why? Have you committed to a time frame? What is it? Is your goal tangible? How?

Once you have answered the above questions for your goals, write a vision statement for each goal. Read your vision statement daily, and track your progress through measurement.

EXAMPLE VISION STATEMENT: “I will read 500 picture books and complete 24 mentor text studies in 2014. Every other week, I will borrow and read 21 picture books from the library, and each time, I will use at least one book as a mentor text to improve my pacing skills.

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It is that time of year again. I have decided to modify my post from last year and repost it.

And here it is. . . .

A common question in life coaching is, “What’s the difference between a life coach and a therapist?” The answer goes something like this: Imagine you are driving a car through life with a psychotherapist as your driving instructor. The psychotherapist will spend a lot of time instructing you to look through your rearview mirror at where you have been. A “life coach” driving instructor will encourage you to look out your windshield at where you are going.


Today, I am going to swim against the life coaching current and ask you to look back at where you have been. New Year’s resolutions often have roots in the past. We look back, with a certain amount of regret, at what we failed to accomplish in the outgoing year. Focusing on our shortcomings, we resolve to make up for them in the New Year; usually with bigger and better plans than before. Although setting these goals can leave you feeling hopeful, looking back with self-judgment can sap your confidence and drain your spirit.


Instead of looking back at your shortcomings with regret, look back at your successes with confidence and gratitude. Looking back and acknowledging your accomplishments will give you the opportunity to celebrate your successes and energize your spirit as you look forward to your new year.


Over the next couple of weeks, take some time to reflect on 2013 and list 31 things that you accomplished throughout the year. I hope you will celebrate your successes by coming back and sharing some of your discoveries in the comments section of this post. The most important part of this challenge is recognizing the positive, energizing events of 2013. Even if you are unable to list 31 achievements, come back and celebrate with us by bragging a little about your year.


  • How did you grow personally, professionally or as a writer?
  • Did you have a positive impact on others?
  • What writing skills did you learn or strengthen?
  • Did you improve organizational skills?
  • Did you find the secret to time management?
  • Did you complete any writing challenges?
  • Did you join any groups?
  • What personal strengths did you gain?
  • What goals did you achieve?
  • What unplanned accomplishments did you achieve?
  • What character qualities did you strengthen?
  • Have you improved your communication skills?
  • Have you gotten better at saying no to others, to yourself, or to activities that drain you?
  • What acts of kindness did you share?
  • What special, memory building moment did you have with family, friends, writing groups, by yourself and so on?
  • Did you submit any of your writing? If you want to challenge yourself to submit more in 2014 click on the Sub Six tab to learn more about our Facebook submission support group.
  • Did any submissions get accepted for publication?
  • Did you get any rejections with encouraging notes?
  • Did you find a positive way to accept rejections?

I will post some of my 31 after my list is completed. In the meantime, six writers and I share some of our 2013 achievements on Marcie Flinchum Atkin’s blog in her “WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER” series.

For tips on celebrating your achievements see CELEBRATE YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS BIG AND SMALL. Be sure to scroll down to the section about the achievement jar, so you can celebrate all through 2014.

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In my post titled SETTING THE FOUNDATION TO BUILD YOUR LIFE UPON, I asked you to look deeper into your balance wheels by creating more categories and identifying obstacles to achieving your desired life in those areas. I also suggested that if you wanted to get ahead of the game, to brainstorm in your journal regarding what it might take to bring each wheel area up to a ten. If you haven’t done that, I recommend you spend some time doing so before you move on to the following steps.


By identifying obstacles, you were working backwards into identifying solutions. Once you know what your obstacles are, you can find solutions for overcoming the obstacles.

Next Steps

Go back, look at your wheels, and choose four areas total from the three wheels. For example, you might choose two areas from the wheel of life, one area from the health wheel, and one area from the writing wheel. Or maybe you want to choose all four areas from your writing wheel of balance. This is your life, you choose. However, because the goal is to create balance in your life, I recommend you start with the areas that you feel are creating the most imbalances. For most people, this tends to be the areas with the lowest satisfaction scores.

Once you have chosen your four areas, it is time to use your journal.

  1. For each area, ask yourself the following questions. What do I really want? What would have to happen for me to feel fulfilled in this area? DREAM BIG. What would a ten look like?
  2. Brainstorm about your dreams or vision for each area.
  3. Make a bullet pointed list of steps you could take to achieve these visions. Be specific. Your list should be written in present tense. You may write in paragraphs if that works better for you. Write as though you are already living a ten. Write as though that area of your life is working exactly the way you want it to. Remember this is your time for dreaming. You are not making any commitments to anyone. Please give yourself permission to dream without judgment, fear, or negativity. Enjoy this time.

The following examples are very basic. I hope you will make your bullet points or paragraphs as grandiose as you wish. Have fun. Dare to dream.


  • My husband and I have date night once a week. We also have alone time every night between 9:00 and 10:00. We are more in love today than we were twenty years ago.
  • I call my mother every Sunday and visit her twice a year, once in June and once in January.
  • I have a closer bond with Jason. We work together cleaning his room every Saturday, followed by lunch and a movie. I have learned more about him, his refusal to do homework and his anger. Jason is doing much better in school and speaks to me with love and respect.
  • My writing community is growing. I have made hundreds of writer friends and contacts online. I attend SCBWI events monthly. I meet with my local critique group monthly. I offer support and get support through these wonderful groups, and my writing has improved tremendously.

I will give you a couple of weeks before I post the next steps in this series. Come back next week to read about “The Chooser’s Remorse Clause: Reserving the right to change your mind.”

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