Share Your Big Goals: How SMART Goals Set You Up for Success

One of the highlights of my summer is teaching the Art of Career Planning at the So Percussion Summer Institute, the wonderful program for budding percussionists founded by my buddies at So Percussion.  In our session, I help these aspiring musicians to gain greater clarity on their career goals. And this year, one of our students surprised everyone by sharing his big goal and then working through the SMART Goal process to come up with an action step that he could immediately implement!

What we discovered is that when you articulate your big dream and tell the world what it is, you may be closer to making that dream happen!

Let’s dissect the process.

The SMART-goal Process

SMART stands for:

Specific: What specifically do I want to accomplish?

Measurable: How will I know when I reach my goal?

Attainable: Is it possible for me to reach this goal?

Realistic: How realistic is this goal in the context of my life?

Time-bound: In what period of time will I accomplish the goal?

The point of SMART goals is to break down that big dream into a time period in which you can see success.  (T)

It leads you to be specific about your big goals (S and M):

It makes sure that you believe in your dream (A) (since you MUST answer yes to the question of “Is it attainable?”); and

It has a built-in reality check by asking how realistic the goal (R).

How SMART goals helped to clarify a Dream

At the session, our volunteer was an intern at So who had just finished his Masters degree in percussion performance.  His goal:

In 5 years, to be employed full-time in stage production.

When I coach people to create a SMART goal, I start with “T”ime-bound in order to create an action step within a period that the student can see success.

In this case, we broke the 5-year goal down as follows:

3 years:  Apprenticeships and freelancing in stage production

1 year:  network and fill in my skill gaps in lighting systems, live sound and the professional process for how to get things done

3 months:  Identify the people in the community who might be leads for apprenticeships

At this point, So member Adam Sliwinski piped up that this was the first time that he, Adam, had heard about his intern’s goal to enter the field of stage production! Adam mentioned that So works with all the best production people in New York and that he and the other 3 members of So could immediately introduce their intern to these folks.

In addition, So is going to tour with a big show this fall and the presenters on tour don’t have the money to bring the big production. That meant that Adam and his fellow So members were planning to do some of the work themselves.  However, Adam offered to bring his intern along so that he could work on the production side and immediately gain experience.

That was easy, wasn’t it?

In 5 minutes, our volunteer went from having a big, amorphous dream to a clear-cut set of actions that could immediately give him the experience that would put him in a position to make his 5-year goal.


If you have a dream and you really believe in it, tell people about it!  You never know what may happen.