Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

by Lisa Jordan

I don’t make resolutions. Since 2009, I’ve chosen one word as a way of focusing on my prayers, lists, calendar, and commitments. I’ve found making resolutions causes too much pressure and guilt when I’m unable to achieve them. However, I do set goals that help me to plan ahead.


Fitzhugh Dodson said, “Without goals, and plans to read them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.”

With that in mind, I’ve learned about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

Specific—your goal needs to be specific. Think about what you want to accomplish. Why does your goal matter? What’s at stake? Who is involved in helping you achieve this goal? Where do you need to be for the goal to be achieved? What’s holding you back?


In 2017, I’d like to write a novella collection in addition to my Love Inspired novels. It matters because the additional income helps to meet our household and my writing budgets. If I don’t write, then I have less income for writers conferences, etc. My writing team is involved in the process. And in order to meet this goal, my fingers need to be on the keyboard. So to make my goal more specific, I could say my goal is to write 1500 words a day, six days a week.
So how will I measure my goal?

Measurable—your specific goal needs to be measurable, meaning you need a way to track your progress. If you’re setting a writing goal, you can track word count progress on a spreadsheet, even going as far as showing the number of words written against the number of words still needed for the rough draft. If you achieve your daily word count, you know you’re on track to meeting your goal.


Attainable—your goal needs to be attainable, meaning it needs to fit within your abilities and lifestyle. When setting goals, it’s great to stretch yourself, but know your limits. With my demanding day job and other obligations, I couldn’t commit to writing more than 2 Love Inspired novels a year if I want to write novellas as well. If your overall goal feels intimidating, set mini goals for yourself. If having a completed manuscript by the end of 2017 feels overwhelming, consider something more attainable like two chapters a month.
Realistic—your goal needs to be realistic. Writing a book a month isn’t realistic to me, even though I can dream about having the skills to make it happen. Writing one book in three months is more realistic and manageable for me. As I continue to hone my craft and improve as a writer, I’ll be able to produce stronger fast drafts, which will enable me to complete novels sooner rather than later. Writing 1500 words a day is a realistic goal and doesn’t feel overwhelming for me to achieve. Keep your expectations in check so you’re not setting yourself up for failure.

Timely—your goals need to be timely. Without a commitment to meet your goal, then you could lose focus and motivation. Plus, learning to write with deadlines prepares you for the publishing world. Set a timetable with a start date and an ending date. You can even break your timetable into smaller increments to help you succeed rather than stress.

Life happens. Be flexible. Take stock of your goals periodically throughout the year and see if you need to adjust your goals…and your attitude. Keep expectations in check. Be willing to ask for help and to accept help from others. Delegate tasks in order to give yourself more time to work toward meeting your goals. By maintaining S.M.A.R.T. goals, you can reward yourself when you reach them by your deadline.  

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S.M.A.R.T. goals—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely~ Lisa Jordan (Click to Tweet)

You can reward yourself when you reach them by your deadline~ Lisa Jordan (Click to Tweet)

Heart, home and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. She is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. Represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Management, Lisa also serves on the My Book Therapy leadership team. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, crafting with friends and binging on Netflix. Learn more about her at lisajordanbooks.com.