SMART goals and starting the semester

The past few weeks have been busy with packing, a move, and now unpacking and getting adjusted to my new home in Muncie, Indiana. I am mostly unpacked, books are out, and it’s time to get back to my projects. Today is my first day “back” at work, although both today and tomorrow I’m starting out with low expectations. This is key: knowing that when you come back to work after some kind of change—whether moving, having, adopting, or fostering a new child, being on sabbatical, marriage/divorce, even coming back to teaching after the summer—that it will take a little time to adjust. Be generous with yourself. Recognize that you will not be able to work at full-steam the first few days, and, as always, set S.M.A.R.T goals:

  • S: specific
  • M: measurable
  • A: attainable
  • R: relevant
  • T: time-bound

In other words, your goals should not look like this:

  • Finish writing and submit my article on patriarchy in 2 Samuel

But should instead be S.M.A.R.T.:

  • Today I will: Read through my article and make a list of all the things I need to do work on
  • For the 5 work days I will: tackle 1-2 items on my list each day for the article (as I adjust to the fall semester teaching schedule)

As you can see from these examples, these sample goals are S.M.A.R.T:

  1. They are Specific: I know what I need to do today and what I need to do during the following 5 work days.
  2. They are Measurable: Did I accomplish them in the time frame I set out? If no, why not? Was I too ambitious? If so, could I have accomplished more?
  3. They are Attainable: These goals are not overly ambitious, such as “finish article,” but are specific tasks that I can work to attain each day.
  4. They are Relevant: If my ultimate goal is to finish and submit my article, then these specific goals are relevant in order to reach that ultimate goal.
  5. They are Time-Bound: I am only setting goals for the next week or so, and therefore I set smaller goals: make the list, do 1-2 things on the list per day. These kinds of goals keeps in mind that I have other responsibilities (and in this particular case, that I need to be generous with myself as I adjust to a new schedule!).

Ultimately, being generous with yourself and your time, and setting S.M.A.R.T. goals go hand-in-hand. Both will lead to greater productivity in your writing, your research, your teaching, or whatever other endeavor you are currently working on.

Wishing you a Happy Beginning to the New Semester!