T for Timely, Time-based, Tangible and Trackable.
When you create a goal, there needs to be an end point to give a clear target for you to work towards. If you don't have a Target (hey, another T word), your goal is no longer SMART--it becomes vague. Why is this? Because without an ending, you can start any time. There is no built in urgency, so why start now?
When choosing a time frame, use many of the same aspects of a SMART goal. Your time must be measurable, attainable--and realistic. It would be great to start and finish a novel by the first day of spring, but how realistic is that for most of us? Is it attainable--oh, perhaps--if I don't go to my day job, interact with family and friends, or take showers. However, it is a reasonable, stretching goal for me to say I will write one chapter a week to take to critique.
One of the more difficult aspects of the T is striking a balance between having enough time to achieve and giving yourself too much time. Planning for too much time has the same result as not setting a time frame at all. Take my weekly chapter. Doable. I've done it before--just not consistently. But what if I change my goal to say I'll do one chapter a month for critique. How much you wanna bet I wouldn't even start that chapter until the last week of the month? There's no urgency until then. And, such a goal wouldn't stretch my abilities at any time--except that one week.
(I can't believe I didn't say anything about Tangible or Trackable. So, here's a few additional thoughts...
Tangible. That means your goal is concrete, touchable. Saying I'm going to write a short story and publish it is a dream. Dreams are great and can be an excellent starting point for a goal. To make your dreams tangible, follow the SMART goal letters and set a word count in a certain time period goal.
Trackable. That's an easy one. Those who know me understand that I push the use of a calendar or planner of some sort to keep track of words/pages written, edits, submissions, oh, just about everything writing related. Tracking your progress can also be as easy as noting the word count on your document every day. An important part of tracking the progress to the completion of your goal is accountability. Hey, maybe I should add accountability to my 'A' words. Of course you are accountable to yourself. Writing that chapter weekly for critique makes you accountable. Find an accountability partner or two. And make a daily or weekly goal to check in with them!
I've re-learned some important things in reposting these blogs about SMART goals. Let me know if you've found these helpful, or if they hit home on some point (that's me!) or if they were merely irritating. Hey, you never know...
Happy writing and even happier reading!)