Original post: September 18, 2010

I relate the following to teacher-speak but really anyone can benefit from this activity of SMART goal-setting.  It appears this concept did not exist originally for teachers, check out http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/smart-goals.html to find out more about SMART goal-setting’s history and background.

SMART is an acronym that stands for, and I quote this directly from the above site (so don’t give me credit, give projectsmart the credit!):

S – specific, significant, stretching

M – measurable, meaningful, motivational

A – agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented

R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

T – time-based, timely, tangible, trackable

You already know your goal, its that dream, secret or not, of what you want for yourself (professionally, spiritually, personally, etc.). Now go through this list and consider how to create tasks that will help you achieve your dream!  The easiest way to reach those goals is to create a measurable task and consider it within the SMART framework (What does the M stand for again?).

What is a measurable task?

GOAL: “I want to lose 15 pounds.”

Typical task idea: I will exercise more. How exactly can you reward yourself for something so generic and open-ended?  At the end of a month if you exercised twice and had never exercised before you could say, “Yippee! Good Job Carrie, you did it!”  Okay, so I would have exercised more, but did it get me any closer to my real goal of losing 15 pounds?

Better, measurable tasks:

I will hire a trainer in the next two weeks and commit to 3 sessions a week in the first month.

I will skip rope 15 minutes a day (I actually do skip rope and if you want a quick, seriously cardiovascular activity I highly recommend it.  If you have proper form, it actually has lower impact than running!)

I will run 3 times per week.

Now, in a months time can you check in with these tasks and see if you are moving towards your goal?  Yes.  You can also see if the strategy is helping or if you need to change the system.  You may realize you have less time to exercise than you realized so jumping rope is ideal.  Or maybe you realized you would lose more weight working with a trainer and you should sign up for more sessions at the gym.  Whatever it is, a monthly check-in combined with measurable tasks will lead to success!  And on top of that, you will feel good about accomplishing the little tasks because you do know its helping you do something bigger and better for yourself.

art lesson | art advice | art education | unleash your inner artistWhat is my goal you might wonder?  Well, I will share one with you that I am currently executing.  I want to be a self-sustaining artist.  Since that is not a measurable goal in itself, I decided to create a goal and tasks that would help me reach towards that more lofty dream.  As of January of 2010, I committed to creating one artwork per week.  For THE ENTIRE YEAR.  To create accountability for myself I created a website: www.carriebrummer.com, which includes a weekly blog posting of my artwork.  When I began the project just my own excitement and determination helped me through.  Now I know people are looking forward to my posts (yes, they have actually TOLD me this 🙂 ) and it helps reinforce my own desire to achieve this task.  When all is said and done, I plan to create some amazing reward to reinforce this kind of goal setting.  (A month of weekly massages?  A weekend away? Oh, the choices:) )

My goal of 52 Paintings in 52 Weeks is helping me reach my larger dream of being a self-sustaining artist.  If I want to improve my skill, advertise my efforts, etc. I need to practice, practice, practice, and I need to share my work with others.  This blog does all of those things for me.

How do I know SMART choices will help you?

You are not a professional being told you must set a goal for work that is more about the company than it is about you.  You are here, reading this because there is something in your life reminding you of larger life goals you hold for yourself.  I ask my students to goal set and I read through and help them better define their tasks.  The reason I know it will work for most of them is that art is an elective course where students choose to be there.  They want to be better artists!  They want to express themselves visually and learn.  If you want to make a change for yourself, and you can tailor your tasks to be specific, the reward of smaller steps toward this bigger, more overwhelming goal can help encourage you forward.  You can naysay all you want, but how will you know unless you really give it a try?  (And think about that naysaying… is it fear of success and perhaps the potential rejection of not reaching your goal?  Dropkick those thoughts into the next timezone.  You will always wonder if you don’t try, and if you are going to give your goal some effort, it might as well be 110 percent!)

Artwork by Carrie Brummer, Copyright 2010

“Understanding SMART goals for creatives.” (Click to Tweet)

BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Create measurable tasks to meet your goal. Check in on your goal-setting monthly to see if you are holding to your commitment. Share it with others who will help hold you to your goals.  Consider an online venue or close family or friends.  Consider co-workers!  For me, my students are a great group to share my goals about art with because I feel beholden to them. I want to be a good example for them. And when you finish these tasks or reach smaller goals give yourself a reward. It is additional reinforcement that you are doing something special and deserving of your attention and time.

What are you doing still sitting here and reading this?!  Go!  Only you can take action to achieve your goals and dreams.