Stop. Pause. Press Restart.

Two weeks ago I posted about my summer goals, but since then I’ve managed to make as little progress as could possibly be defined (a rather flowery way of saying I’ve done nothing). Part of me wants to kick back and say I don’t care, because hasn’t it been a stressful year and don’t I deserve a break? But the better part of me feels bored and knows, deep down, I do want to accomplish the things I’ve set out to do.

It’s just getting there that isn’t always easy.

So it’s time I stop for a second, hit the pause button, and take a moment to restart.

Saying I’ve done nothing is a bit unfair, since I have made progress toward a couple of my goals: I finished not one but two books, I started my GoFundMe campaign, and I’ve read and watched a lot about mathematics in my attempt to learn to love it again (a story I’m still finding the words to tell), prepare for the fall, and determine my master’s research project.

It actually for a moment sounds like I’ve done a lot when I say it like that.

Except, if you really analyze what I’ve done lately, it involves copious amounts of sleeping in late and just as much time spent playing video games long into the night.

(In my defense, finishing a few particular games in also on my summer to-do list.)

So while I’ve been somewhat productive lately, I haven’t been efficient, and if I sincerely want to achieve these goals (which I do), then I’ve got to reorganize myself. I’ve learned in the past that I’m most productive when I’ve got external accountability and extremely structured work schedules that are detailed and particular. When I wrote my last post, I over-generalized and built in little means of accountability to anybody.

In a few words, I should’ve reviewed the SMART goals system before getting started.

One of the nice things about blogging is that it allows me to build external accountability into my own personal motivations, which helps me to be more efficient and focused than if I tried to keep my plans to myself. Being able to write about my goals, and receive feedback on my progress (and lack thereof) helps me to better articulate the reasons why I’m pursuing them, which also helps me to stay on track to achieve them.

Honestly, it’s a practice I encourage more people to do–and I think it’d be awesome if there were a way people with similar goals could congregate to express themselves and help motivate each other. Sort of like a year-round, generalized NaNoWriMo community.

Anyways, here are the five factors of SMART goals:

  1. Specific – outcomes are particular, concrete, not too abstract or general
  2. Measurable – progress can be tracked, processes can be outlined
  3. Attainable – goals can be realistically achieved within a period of time
  4. Relevant – short-term outcomes contribute directly to long-term goals
  5. Time-bound – plans to achieve goals have a specified completion date

Looking back at my previous post, my goals were relevant and time-bound, and a few were measurable and marginally specific, but as a whole, they fell short of being each of these five things–and so, despite my minimal progress, I haven’t gone nearly as far in the last two weeks as I need to go in the next few to actually attain these goals.

Over the course of the summer I hope to periodically revisit these goals here (and I think I’ve got a few ideas in mind for how to do it), but for now this seems like a reasonably complete post–except for the part where I talk specifically about my goals. Since some readers may find it uninteresting or only want to skim through the main points, I’m going to add them in a second page for those interested in reading more to do so.

For now, for you, I hope–as I always do–that you’ll join me on this journey, and I welcome comments and conversations. What are your summer goals? Are they SMART? Do you share any of my goals, or have any advice for better ways to achieve them?

Click here to read my SMART summer goals.

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