The Rules Are Not The Goal

Staying on target with SMART goals

Posted on August 31, 2023 · 5 mins read
I made it a goal for myself when I first started this blog to post at least once a month. This condition was imposed with good intentions, to ensure that I would write consistently. This was to improve my writing, which was the main goal for starting the blog in the first place. But while it was well-intentioned, I don't believe it was the right move. It has been detrimental in two ways: first, it has increased unnecessary stress, and second, it has slowed down my writing pace.

The obligation to post 'every month' is what causes the stress. By setting a time requirement, I have inadvertently set myself a deadline to post by the end of every month. Posting a day later (on the 1st) would still count as a failure in reaching my goal. This arbitrary deadline has made the approach of the end of the month something I dread, and to avoid feeling like I've failed in my goal I'll write something/anything to avoid that. This means the topics are chosen based on how quick and easy they would be to rush out, rather than what I am most interested in at the time.

The second way that it impacted me is that whenever I thought of another topic I would like to write about, instead of starting on it right away I would only add them to my backlog. This provided me with a wide range of options at the end of the month (even if I would only select the 'easy' ones). As a result, I didn't write anything until the end of the month, which made me less consistent in my writing than I would have been.

So what's the plan? The monthly restriction was in place for positive reasons, and despite slowing down my writing and raising my stress levels, it has also made sure that I update frequently.

At this point the negatives outweigh the positives, so it's time to change. For more effective goal setting, a few things need to change. Let's start by using the SMART goal framework. This can be used to check that the goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Specific: For a goal to be specific, it needs to be able to answer questions such as "Who is responsible?" and "What needs to happen?". In this case, 'writing' needs to happen, by me specifically.

Measurable: When a goal is quantifiable, we can measure the progress and also know that the goal has been achieved. Last time we tried measuring the number of posts completed in a month and it didn't work, so let's do a different time-based this time. Instead of measuring the number of posts, we will track the amount of time spent writing.

Achievable: As tempting as it would be to declare that I should write every waking hour, that's not realistic. Considering the other obligations I have in my day-to-day life, an achievable amount of time I can set aside is 30 minutes minimum, ideally every day but in actuality at least 4 days a week. Of course, this may change if I need to, determining what is realistic may take some trial and error.

Relevant: This is where we ask "Why?". If the overarching goal is to improve writing, then setting a goal to go horse riding won't help. But making it writing-related will - and for my scenario it doesn't have to be blog-specific writing, as my writing goals are wider than that.

Time-Bound: This relates to making the goal measurable. All goals must end eventually, and having a time when even 'repeating' tasks are done means that they are much more likely to be completed. The time frame for this goal is the next three months, chosen thanks to this article: Why you should divide your life into semesters, even when you’re not in school.

Put it all together, and my new goal is:

"For the next three months, I will write for at least 30 minutes a day, at least 4 days a week."

I'll report back in three months with how it went. Wish me luck!

← Previous Post Next Post

See new posts directly in your inbox

(Powered by Substack)