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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Are you working SMART?

It's Sunday night and you know what that means. Time for some goal setting for Monday morning! After I write down my goals, I review them and consider whether they comply with the SMART model:

S: Specific
M: Measurable
A: Attainable
R: Realistic
T: Timely

Specific: Specificity helps us to focus what we are doing and clearly define what it is that we plan to do. I use "what," "why," and "how" to determine whether my goal passes the specificity test. I use present tense action words. I don't write down that I'm going to improve my spiccato. Instead I write down exactly what I plan to do to accomplish this step.

Example: I am practicing 2 minutes every day playing Perpetual Motion (or the D major scale, 3 octaves, with double 8th notes) with spiccato bows. I consider whether my up bows are as strong as my down bows.

Example: I am practicing 5 minutes of spiccato on one passage at various metronome speeds and listening for an evenness between down bows and up bows.

Measurable: How will you know that you have achieved your desired result? You need a way to measure your progress and your ultimate achievement. For example, if you plan to lose weight, how will you know when you have achieved it? We would know because hopefully we worded our goal so that we could measure the result, such as pounds lost. The best goals are those that have several possible measuring points along the road to success, which makes it easier to mark off progress. Measuring goal progress is a great way to stay on track and to encourage yourself to keep going.

Example: I am practicing 100 days in a row for a minimum of 10 minutes.

Example: I am practicing this specific passage using the metronome and increasing the tempo a little bit every day for 30 days.

Attainable: Make sure that your goal is something that you can really achieve. If your goal is something that is important to you, then you will start to think of how you might make your dreams come true. You will see opportunities to build your skills, change your attitude, rework your schedule, and put your finances in order. You will think of more ways to bring yourself closer to achieving your goals. If your goal is not attainable, then you really won't give your best to achieve it. You will know subconsciously that it's too much for you. It's OK for your goal to stretch you -- these are the best kind of goals.

Bad example: I am a concert pianist in 1 month.

Good example: I practice piano daily for a minimum of 20 minutes. I attend weekly private lessons. After 1 year, I play an instructor-assigned piece in a recital.

Bad example: I lose 60 pounds in 1 week.

Good example: I lose 1 pound a week by eating fruit instead of sugary sweets for dessert and by exercising 30 minutes at least 5 times a week.

Realistic: Is this goal something that you can actually do or will it break you in the trying? I expect a learning curve when embarking on a new goal pathway, but it's not a realistic goal if my learning curve rises before me vertically. Be careful though that you need to use some effort to attain your goal. A goal that's too hard to reach will set you up for failure, but a goal that demands too little from you sends you the message that you don't have much ability.

Timely: Set your goal within a time frame. Give it an end point so that you have a target before you. Time limits build urgency to take action now. The time must be measurable, attainable, and realistic as well as the goal.

Your focus assignment this Monday morning is to review your goals for the week (the month/year/decade) and see if they are SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

Leave me a comment and let me know what kinds of goals you might be working on this week.

1 comment:

  1. Great, Paula! I love your ability to break down stuff into easy to understand, practical information.