Smart Goals

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely…

Most of us know about SMART goals, right?  I even had the “luck” to get to watch a little 10 minute “How to Write SMART Goals” video a year or two ago.  It was part of professional development because, of course, we had to write SMART goals for ourselves.  And I hate to admit it, but I like SMART goals.  They make sense.  I used to always say, “I need to write” or “I need to submit some work” or “I need to get published” or something else equally vague and unachievable.  And it never happened because it was never a real goal.  It was more like a wish.

So I watched that video, and made my professional development goals, and then I totally forgot about SMART goals.  Meh.  They were from work, right?  And what does work have to do with the real world?

Well, I went back to a BAWL meeting, and Jessica Trapp was speaking there.  She actually said a whole lot in a very short time period, and while I didn’t agree with all of the thoughts she shared, she brought SMART goals up, and it kind of clicked in my mind.  Why hadn’t I been doing this all along?

I came home, thought about it, and started writing out my SMART goals for the year.  Then I broke them down to monthly and weekly goals.  (I considered daily goals, but I know myself too well – there are very few things I manage to do every day…)

And do you want to know the crazy thing?  They’ve worked!

Okay, not entirely.

But the SMART goals I wrote for myself about writing, submitting and job searching have!  The exercise and house cleaning ones have fallen by the wayside, although I suppose that isn’t very surprising.

Now, I know that it’s only been a few weeks.  But isn’t there something out there that says that once you’ve done something 20+ times, it becomes a habit?  If that’s the case, then following my SMART goals is totally a habit.  I check in with them, and I printed them out so that I can check them off as I do them.  At this point, I’m on track with achieving all – except the cleaning and exercise – for the month by the 31st.  And that’s with everything else going on around me.  Having that check-in list and knowing firm goals is definitely right for me.



In one of the many, many, many listervs I belong to, I found a new vocabulary word: kaizen.  It’s all about the process of continuous improvement.  Kind of the good old fashioned “every day in every way…”  Instead of making huge, far-reaching, wide-sweeping changes, change occurs through small daily steps, sort of like the baby steps in “What About Bob?”  (I know, how horrible to compare anything to that movie, but there were definitely some good scenes!)

The thing is, the concept of kaizen and the concept of college seem awful similar to me.

When you go to school – good old-fashioned K through 12, that is – you wind up learning lots of stuff all at once.  There is no focus.  It’s all general information, and you’re busy trying to make huge changes to yourself and process all that information and take it in.

Then you go to college.

Suddenly, it’s all about picking one topic and studying it until you feel like you can’t study it anymore.  You focus.  You take only a few classes at a time, and normally they’re all on the subject you’ve chosen to focus on: history, English, education, whatever.  You leave behind the generalist ideas and focus on improving your knowledge and skills in small and specific doses.  You learn about one topic, and then the next, and then the next, and each one builds on the other.  You are in the process of continual improvement.  You are in college. You are in kaizen.


Teaching Gigs

When thinking about – and applying for – part-time teaching positions (adjunct positions, for those of you who haven’t heard that term before), I realized that I tend to call them “gigs.”  So I had to wonder why I called them that.  Yes, I know that I over-think just about everything in my life.  Blame it on my urge to deconstruct literature and rhetoric.  But this is really something I think is fairly significant.

It’s a gig for two reasons.

First, there’s a creative basis to it.  Just like every writer, musician, or artist, every teacher has a style.  There’s a definite “art” to teaching.

The second, and probably more important aspect, is that it’s all about public performance.  It’s entertainment.  And I don’t mean to denigrate it by saying that.  I’m not saying it in a negative way.  It’s just that – and I admit this is often more true for composition classes – students don’t want to be there.  Really, they don’t.  They’re there because they have to be there.  It’s a requirement.  And maybe, in their past, they’ve been taught that English is hard.  Or that they’re no good at it.  Whatever the reason, it makes teaching comp classes a double whammy – lots of information to get through and resistant students.

I don’t just teach.  I entertain.  I try to convince my students that they do want to be there.  That they <gasp> *like* English.  And it doesn’t always work.  But sometimes…well, most of the time…it does.

So, for anyone who was interested enough to follow this, while I still haven’t heard about any full-time jobs, I do have a few adjunct gigs lined up that will keep me busy and rolling in the dough (ha!  Well, ha! to the money…but I’m definitely going to be busy).


Tubal Cain

I know that in the grand scheme of things, I haven’t been unemployed that long, and I have lots of Spring adjuncting set up, but the lack of a full-time job is bringing me down.  And I have an interview on Monday for a gig I’d love to get, but my nerves are definitely getting to me.  I hate the uncertainty.  Will I get the gig?  Will I get a different gig?  Will I be an adjunct for at least one semester?  More than one semester?

I don’t know.

Which leads me to tubal cain.

Many years ago (but who’s counting?), there was an awesome sitcom called News Radio.  And in one episode, the station owner, Jimmy James, buys what amounts to a bit box of garbage.  It’s supposed to be film memorabilia, but it’s all totally bogus and very obviously so to everyone except, of course, Jimmy James.  So Jimmy James decides to sue the guy who sold it to him who had so horribly defrauded him.  Joe, the station handyman, tells Jimmy James that there’s one guaranteed way to win – just say “tubal cain” to the judge, and the judge is forced to rule in his favor.  Jimmy James thinks he’ll win anyway, and so he fights the case fairly.  But as the case progresses, it’s clear that Jimmy James is on the losing side.  So mere moments before the judge declares in favor of the salesman, Jimmy James says “tubal cain,” and the judge reverses his decision and Jimmy James wins.

The moral of the story?
Knowing the magic words turns the day into a win.

The point?
I really need to see if “tubal cain” gets me a job.