Saturday, January 21, 2023

S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Writers in 2023

by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA @DrMaryAnnDiorio

Have you noticed how many things are labeled “smart” these days? We have SMART phones, SMART watches, and even SMART washing machines! 

The word smart has become a household word in our culture. An Internet search for its definition resulted in this:

“The word ‘SMART’ refers to ‘self-monitoring, analysis, and reporting technology . . . that uses artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analysis to provide cognitive awareness to objects that were in the past considered inanimate.’” 
(Source cited:

So, what does smart mean when applied to goals? When we speak of smart goals, we are not referring to a system that does the monitoring, analysis, and setting of our goals for us. While we may use automated software for setting our goals, goal-setting is a task we must do ourselves.

To set S.M.A.R.T. goals is to make them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. 

Let’s take a brief look at each aspect of a S.M.A.R.T. goal:

Specific: A goal is specific when it is clearly defined. In other words, there is no doubt about what the goal is.

When your goal is specific, you have a greater chance of achieving it because your goal is clear. As we do when we write our stories, we should ask ourselves the five W questions to make a goal specific.
  • Who, besides me, is needed for me to achieve this goal?
  • What do I want to accomplish through this goal?
  • When do I want to accomplish this goal?
  • Where will I achieve this goal?
  • Why do I want to achieve this goal?

Measurable: A goal is measurable when you can measure your progress toward its accomplishment. 

Unless you can measure your progress as you work toward your goal, you won’t know how far you’ve come nor how far you still have to go toward achieving it.

When establishing measuring criteria for your goal, ask yourself these questions:
  • How much time do I need to devote toward reaching this goal? How many days? Weeks? Months? Years?
  • How will I know if I have reached my goal?
  • What method of measurement am I going to use to indicate my progress? A calendar? A log? A notebook? A computer software program? An app?

Achievable: A goal is achievable when it is not impossible to accomplish.

While a goal should be achievable, it should not necessarily be easy to achieve. Goals should make us stretch and become more than we were prior to achieving the goal.

To determine whether your goal is achievable, ask yourself these questions:
  • Do I have the ability, resources, and interest to achieve this goal? If I do not, can I acquire them?
  • Have other people before me been able to achieve this goal? While this does not have to be the case (consider Roger Bannister and the four-minute mile), it does help to know that others have achieved the same or a similar goal. 

Realistic: A goal is realistic when it moves you toward fulfilling your life purpose.

When determining if a goal is realistic for you, ask yourself these questions:
  • Is this goal within my reach?
  • Will this goal help me or hinder me in fulfilling my life purpose?
  • Am I willing and able at this point in my life to commit to this goal?

Timely: A goal is timely when it has a start date and a finish date. 

Do not confuse a dream with a goal. A dream has no deadline date. A goal is a dream with a date on it. A goal must have time limits for achieving it. If there are no start and end dates to your goals, there will be no sense of urgency, a motivating factor essential to achieving a goal. 

When setting a time limit for your goal, ask yourself these questions:
  • When will I start working toward my goal?
  • When do I plan to achieve my goal?

A study by the Statistic Brain Research Institute of people who make New Year resolutions revealed that only eight percent of people who set New Year goals achieve them and 92% do not. (Source cited:

As we begin a new year, don’t become a victim of “New Year Syndrome.” Don’t set goals only to fail to achieve them. Use the S.M.A.R.T goal-setting method, and you will find that when 2024 approaches, you will be happy that you accomplished what you set out to accomplish at the beginning of 2023.

This coming new year, don’t work hard. Work S.M.A.R.T. Set goals using the five steps above, and you will accomplish much more than you would have otherwise.

Now, it’s your turn? Do you have a goal-setting method that works for you? If so, please share it in the comment box.

Happy Goal-Setting!


MaryAnn Diorio writes women's fiction from a quaint Victorian town in southern New Jersey where the neighbors still stop to chat while walking their dogs, the houses still sport wide, wrap-around porches, and the charming downtown still finds kids licking lollipops and old married couples holding hands.

A Jersey girl at heart, MaryAnn is a big fan of Jersey diners, Jersey tomatoes, and the Jersey shore. You can learn more about her at

Featured Image: Photo by Sereja Ris on Unsplash


  1. What perfect blog to follow yesterday's blog! I love how specific and practical this is. Thank you for sharing.

    1. You are quite welcome, Crystal. Yes, it fits well with your wonderful post from yesterday! Blessings to you!

  2. Thank you for this specific goal-setting plan. Very helpful. : )

    1. You are most welcome, Grace. I am glad you find it helpful. :)

  3. What a great acrostic!! LOVE this way to remember the best kind of goals!!

    1. Thank you for commenting, Julie. So glad you found the acrostic helpful. It does not originate with me but has been widely used in both the business and academic worlds for a while. Many blessings to you!

  4. Thank you, MaryAnn, Diorio. Very helpful.

  5. Wonderful acronym, MaryAnn. I find some people don't like to set goals, but I think it may be because the goals aren't SMART.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Kay. The acronym S.M.A.R.T. has actually been used for a while in both the academic and business communities. So I do not take credit for it. You are right that it certainly makes goal-setting easier. Blessings to you!