Setting SMART Goals and Objectives to Help Learn Web Development

Those who have been following this blog, and yes I know this blog is new so all 2 or 3 of you, know that I am coming from a social work background. My current position is working with teen boys in a foster care group home. Before this, I worked with Child Protective Services. I also worked for a few years as a case manager on a Crisis Stabilization Unit. All of these had some similarities, but for our purposes, the similarity that matters is the use of SMART goals and objectives. SMART goals and objectives are great for setting goals that you can ACHEIVE!

Let’s look at a goal most of us newbies to Web Development have:

“I want to get a job as a Web Developer.”

Great! Good for you, but this goal is missing many elements that can help you measure your progress or make it more achievable. First, let’s look at what a SMART goal is. SMART stands for the following:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Assignable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Let’s briefly look at each of these.

Specific means you need to avoid a broad topic and drill down to a specific area you need to improve. Look at the goal above. Web Development can mean SO much. Front end? Back end? Ruby? Python? Full stack? You need to focus! what counts as a job? Freelance? Contractor?

Measurable means you need to look at the goal and see what progress you have made. Again, the above is so open to interpretation. What is your timeline? Have you failed the goal if you have not reached it in one year? Ten years? 6 months? How do we know when the goal will be met?

Assignable means that the goal says who will do it. The goal above has that, and honestly this one is straightforward. You will be writing a personal goal. “I” works!

Realistic looks at whether the goal can be achieved. Many of these elements are dependent on others. The above goal may be realistic, but right now, it is too broad to tell. If you make the goal to be hired as a junior Web developer, then it may be realistic. If you set your goal to be that you want to go straight from self-study to being hired as a senior developer, maybe not so much.

Finally, timely means we need to specify a timetable for this goal. The above, as I mentioned, lacks this element. Measurable from above can mean a time table, but it also means that you need to know how much progress is being made toward the goal being timely.

Let’s look at what a SMART goal for this would look like:

“I will get a job as a junior Web developer, by studying Ruby on Rails at least 2 hours a night by February, 2016.”

In this, I have made the goal specific, I have placed a timetable, I have made it measurable, and hopefully realistic. Underneath this goal, I need SMART objectives that build toward it, such as:

“I will complete the Ruby on Rails tutorial by Michael Hartl by June 30, 2015 by studying it 2 times a night.”

and

“I will blog daily about my progress on studying Ruby on Rails, including details on what I studied that day until June 30, 2015.”

June 30, 2015 is when I will reassess the progress I am making. It is OK to readjust expectations. When I first set these goals and objectives, I may overreach or underreach. What if on June 15, 2015, I have completed the tutorial? I sit down and make new goals and objectives! If I need more time, on June 30 I will set goals to finish it, hopefully with better perspective.

I hope this helps. I am by no means an expert, and I am sure someone out there has done a better job setting goals or writing them. If so, let me know. I am always open to learn more!