Setting SMART goals
The exercises that follow are meant to help you define your vision then create SMART goals to help you achieve that vision.
You may want to use these exercises if:
- You learned a new skill and you want to make sure you keep using it, and continuing to apply it over time
- You see potential for change in your team’s work and you want to hold yourselves accountable toward that growth
- You want to make a cultural shift in your organization and you need some tangible milestones to help get the ball rolling
SMART goals is a framework often used to help folks gain clarity in their vision, then make an actionable plan to help them get on their way toward realizing that vision.
The S stands for specific. This means you want to be specific in naming your goal and what you want to achieve. An example could be: “I want to save more of my paycheck to build up a rainy day fund.”
The M stands for measurable. This means you will identify your key metrics to help you understand whether or not you have been successful. An example could be: “I want to save enough of my paycheck to build up a rainy day fund that would cover my rent, utilities, and living expenses for six months.”
The A stands for achievable. This means you are being realistic about the current conditions under which you exist and will continue to exist while working toward your goal. An example of this could be: “Given my monthly budget, I believe I can set aside an additional 4% of my paycheck each month toward the goal of building up a six-months rainy day fund.”
The R stands for relevant. This means that you clearly understand how your goals support your overall vision. An example could be: “Because I work in journalism, where employment conditions are volatile, if I build up my six-months rainy day fund, then I won’t have to worry as much about money if I lose my job.”
Finally, the T stands for timebound. This means that you are setting a deadline for yourself by using this model. An example of this could be: “If I follow the plan of setting aside 4% of my paycheck for 12 months, I will have saved enough to cover six months of my rent, utilities, and living expenses.”
Visioning and Goal Setting
What big, blue sky goals do you have? Write down several ideas and circle the one that speaks most clearly to you. (Don’t worry about those other goals — you can always repeat this exercise again later to build out a SMART goals plan for those too).
Describe your starting point with respect to your goal. List as much information as possible, so you know where you are starting from. Ask yourself questions like:
- What resources are available to me?
- What constraints and challenges do I face?
- How will I know if I have been successful?
- Who can help support me?
- What is your vision of success? Describe what the future would be like if you were successful with your goal. Be as specific as possible. Ask yourself questions like:
- What is different on success day compared to today?
- How will I celebrate?
- How will I feel?
- What challenges that you currently face will have been defeated?
What obstacles do you anticipate in trying to reach this goal? List all potential blockers. (These could include your own fears, perceptions)
What SMART goal(s) can you set to achieve that vision?
S - Specific, M - Measurable, A - Achievable, R - Relevant, T - Timebound
What milestones do you need to reach in order to achieve your SMART goal? And how will you hold yourself accountable as you reach those targets?
Make a list of 100 actions you can take to make progress toward your goal. Yes, you read that correctly: 100 steps you can take. For example:
- Items 1-5 could be “research 5 financial advisors on LinkedIn”
- Items 6-10 could be “email those 5 financial advisors and ask for their rates.”
- It also helps if you assign a timebox to each task: 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 1 hour, etc. If your list is organized by timed tasks, you will always be able to find something to do to make progress toward your goal, no matter how little time you have.
This resource is part of the OpenNews After Party toolkit, developed by Emma Carew Grovum. It’s meant to help you get the most out of SRCCON—or any journalism event—and share what you learn with your own organization. The toolkit is licensed CC BY-SA 4.0, and we’d love to see you use or adapt it for your own event—all we need is a link back here.
We’d also be thrilled to hear how you put what you learn into practice, so please tweet us at #OpenNewsAfterParty, or if you have any questions, let us know!