Set SMART goals.

You may have heard someone use the SMART goal acronym before. There are a bunch of different variations on the theme, but here is my preferred version:

SPECIFIC

MEASURABLE

ACTIONABLE

REALISTIC

TIME-BOUND

Not-so-SMART goal:

  • Book a Broadway show.

The only one of the 5 criteria that this one meets is Measurable. You will certainly know if you have booked a Broadway show. But that’s it. The other 4 criteria are not met. Not even close.

Let’s try again.

  • Book a Broadway show by the end of the year.

This one meets M and T. Better, but still not SMART.

  • Book Elphaba in Wicked by the end of the year.

This one meets S, M, and T. So close, but still so far away.

Let’s take a pause to discuss the two missing letters.

REALISTIC - This goal of booking Elphaba in Wicked by the end of the year is completely unrealistic. Why? Because it is out of your control! In order for a goal to be realistic, it must be within your control. Unless you are the producer, director, music director, casting director, and author, you simply do not control the outcome of this goal, thereby making it inherently unrealistic. Also, unless you are certain that the role will be available before the end of the year, your goal becomes even more unrealistic. To make a goal Realistic, make sure it is entirely within your control.

ACHIEVABLE - This is probably my favorite criterion in the group. Achievable means that you have the self-awareness to determine where you may have gaps in your knowledge, in your network, in your skill set, in your strategy, etc. And focusing on how to make your goal achievable means focusing on growth. Let’s take our Elphaba as an example. If she has not worked on the sides packet, this goal is not achievable. If she is unable to sing the end of the Defying Gravity 8 times a week, this goal is not achievable. If she has not created a strategy for getting her work in front of the people who need to see it, this goal is not achievable. To make a goal Achievable, self-awareness is required.

Many of us fool ourselves into thinking that we can get away with making our goals specific, measurable, and time-bound, and that will be enough. NOPE. Unless we focus in on what is realistic and what is achievable, we will continue to run on the hamster wheel and wonder why we aren’t getting anywhere.

So… what does this mean for our hypothetical Elphaba?

It means that she is hiding and keeping herself safe by maintaining the status quo. She is pretending she has goals, and then, when she doesn’t achieve them, she points her finger and blames everyone but herself. If she really wanted to know what she was made of, she would revise her goal and make it truly SMART.

  • To present a fully realized, impeccably prepared, world-class offering of the Elphaba material to those who are in a position to choose the cast of the show as soon as June 1 and no later than the end of 2019.

What I love about this is that the goal is clear but the path remains flexible. Now it is on the actor to carve her own path. She has taken control of that which is in her control, and released that which is out of her control.

Perhaps you’d word it differently. That’s fine! So long as you can point to all 5 letters, I’d call it SMART.