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  • Writer's pictureVendela Ahlström

S.M.A.R.T. goals

If you haven’t caught on yet, I guess now would be a time to tell you that I’m really into setting goals. I love goal setting and finding new startegies to become as productive and make as much process on my goals as possible. Being this productive has it’s downfalls as well, but I’ll save that for another post.

I use several different techniques to set goals. I’ve used MuchelleB’s goal setting system and this year I’ve tried the Power Sheets Goal Planner from Cultivate What Matters. I have a whole range of blog posts on that. I even made it a feature in a newsletter last year. Today I thought we’d talk about S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Most people have heard of them. They’re the most common ones and are mentioned often as a sort of starting point for goals. They’re great to get started. We’ll go through the main five points and then I’ll tell you about my thoughts on it.

S.M.A.R.T. - Specific

Be specific. We all know that setting goals that are too big make them hard to achieve. Big goals are on the verge of becoming dreams if you don’t have a plan, and it can be hard to create plans for goals that are too big. Break it down instead and be very specific. What does the result look like? What, exactly, do you want to achieve?

S.M.A.R.T. - Measurable

Make it measurable. If we take writing a book as an example and we’ve been specific about finishing a first draft, then we need to be able to measure it. Do we measure it in terms of time? Time doesn’t guarantee a finished product in this case. A word count could be easier to measure as it gives you hard data. Writing a 100k draft might be an idea. Or you measure it through the hero’s journey plot points or the Save the Cat! Writes a Novel beats. When you make it measurable you can see how far you’ve gotten, even if you don’t finish. And it makes it easier to break it down into tasks that you can complete in a sitting. It makes it more manageable.

S.M.A.R.T. - Attainable

I suppose it could stand for achievable as well. The idea is that the goal is genuinely achievable. Can you make it happen. Becoming famous is not attainable because you don’t actually decide whether people know you or not. But, writing and publishing books is attainable. And you might become a famous writer with time, hard work and luck. You can strive towards dreams, but goals need to be within your power to complete.

S.M.A.R.T. - Relevant

R stands for relevant, but I honestly think it should stand for reason. Basically, if a goal is relevant, it aligns with your long-term objectives and your personal values. Sure, but I think it’s more about why you’re trying to achieve this goal. What is the reason? This is important, and you’ll see this a lot, because if you don’t have a reason, you don’t have a motivation to keep going.

S.M.A.R.T. - Time-based

The reason I always get uni assignments done is because I have external deadlines that I need to keep to. When it comes you writing, especially your first book, you don’t tend to have a deadline. So you have to create one. I think this is why NaNoWriMo works for some people. Unfortunately it’s easy to neglect self-imposed deadlines because no one is affected but yourself and we tend to prioritise everyone and everything else. Get some accountability partners, share your deadlines on social media or in some other way that makes it official. I write my goal setting blog posts every month, even though no one really reads them, because it makes it more official to me.

Smart goals are a great start, but they do lack some things that I think are useful to take into account when you set goals. I will go deeper into this in another blog post, but here are some extra things you can think about in addition to the S.M.A.R.T. points.


You can write your book in the notes app on your phone. You don’t necessarily need Scrivener, or even Word. But if there is something you do need it’s a good idea to make a note of it. I, for example, really need my world building sheets, my Scrivener and my Save the Cat book. I also usually need some books in order to do research because I write a lot of historical fantasy. Time can be a resource. How are you going to take time to write? Waking up earlier or booking in a writing meet up every week? Resources don’t have to cost money either. It can be a blog with good writing prompts or a YouTube channel with lessons. World building can be done for free on World Anvil if you’re into that.


Technically the finished product is a reward in itself, but it can be hard to think of it that way. So tempt yourself with a carrot. What do you get if you finish? I tend to allow myself to get a resource (usually a book) for my next goal/project. This motivates me to keep working towards my goal.


This can also be seen as a resource. Writing can be lonely, but doing it with others, even if you’re sitting quietly tapping away makes it more social. You’re all in the same boat so you’re more likely to do it. I have my VBTC (Virtual Butt to Chair) every morning over Zoom where we write for an hour. It helps if you have something or someone else to show up for.

Hope this helped! Let me know how you guys set goals and if you want to know anything else about my goal setting!

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