By March 22, 2021

5 Examples of SMART Goals That Will Make You a Better Programmer

smart goals better programmerWhen you have some new goals you want to achieve, it’s always best to follow the SMART goal setting formula and write them down. By writing down your goals, you have a 42% better chance of achieving them.

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. A SMART goal is a really specific way of writing down your goal, a key component of improving your chances of achieving any goal.

To illustrate the point, it’s useful to look at two similar goals to identify which one is a SMART goal:

  1. I want to work out more.
  2. I will go to the gym three times per week for the next six months.

Hopefully, it’s pretty clear which one of the above is a SMART goal. However, to confirm, it’s the second one. This goal gives a very clear breakdown of what you will do, how you will do it, and over what time period.

Just saying you want to work out more doesn’t give you any idea about how you intend to do it. And most importantly it doesn’t hold you accountable.

You could work out for five minutes, one day of the week, and if that’s more than what you are currently doing, it’s technically achieving your goal.

However, it’s probably not going to get you the desired outcome of why you want to work out more.

Now that we have identified what a SMART goal is, we are now going to look at five SMART goals you can set to become a better programmer this year. The five SMART goals highlighted in this post are not an exhaustive list; however, they can all help you on your quest to be a better, more-rounded programmer if you are employed or work on your own.

Spend Three Nights per Week Creating Your Own Website if You Want To Make a Career Change

If you are currently employed but looking to branch out on your own and build your own programming business, it’s extremely useful to have your own website showcasing your skills.

Having your own space on the internet showcasing your work is a great way to show off your skills to potential employers or clients.

You will need to dedicate some time after work to specifically work on the site and commit to a time-frame where you will have it done.

S—The goal is to build a website
M—Three nights per week
A—A challenge, but easily doable
R—Relevant if you want to start your own business
T—Three months

Take an Online Course for a Specific Programming Language Twice per Year

If you are an extremely competent Java programmer, you could look to broaden out your skillset by learning a new programming language.

A great way to do this is to commit to doing some online courses to improve your knowledge. Online courses are something that we think about doing but never really commit to.

Set a goal to do two per year. And a top tip is to find one that you need to pay for, as you are much more likely to commit to it.

You can decide on any programming language where you think you need to improve your skillset.

S—The goal is to learn a new programming language
M—Two courses that I pay for
A—Challenging but attainable
R—Relevant if you to build your programming skills
T—One year

Spend Five Hours a Week Learning How To Develop a New App Over the Next Six Months

Building a new app takes time, and if it’s not your full-time job, it can be really hard to find the time needed to work on it. However, taking the time to learn how to build a new app broadens your programming skillset and will make you more valuable to employers and clients.

Set yourself a goal that over the next six months you will spend five hours every week working on your new app.

This is a SMART goal where you can adjust parts to make them more relevant to you. For example, if you know you can easily work for five hours a week, increase it to 10. Or if you think it will only take you three months to develop, shorten the time frame.

S—The goal is to develop an app
M—Five hours per week
A—Hard but doable
R—Relevant if you want to build a new app
T—Six months

Dedicate Two One-Hour Blocks of Time To Increase Productivity Every Day for Three Months

Programming requires intense concentration. If there are lots of distractions going on, properly focusing on the work you need to do can be really hard, and productivity can drop.

In Cal Newport’s bestseller, Deep Work, he suggests one of the best ways to concentrate on your work is to block out times to do specific intense work. This is a time where you just work on a specific task you have set yourself. For example, if you need to write code for a specific part of a website you’re developing, you do that, and only that, for the one-hour time block.

Turn your phone off, close your emails down, and avoid the internet if you can. Schedule an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon for periods of intense focus. The reason for choosing an hour is it’s long enough to really focus and get plenty done, but short enough to not be intimidating from the start.

Again, this part of the SMART goal can be reframed to suit you better. If you know you concentrate better for shorter periods of time, reduce the time period. Twenty-five minutes can be a good place to start; that’s the time frame used in the Pomodoro productivity technique.

You will be surprised about how much you get done.

S—The goal is to do intense work
M—Two one-hour blocks every day
A—Challenging but doable
R—Relevant if wanting to increase your productivity
T—Three months

Spend One Hour at the End of the Month To Plan Your Time for the Following Month

smart goals better programmerAs the saying goes: “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” Planning out your month can have a dramatic effect on the amount you get done every month.

All of the most successful people in the world will meticulously plan out their months ahead so they know exactly what they need to do to be successful.

Give yourself an hour at the end of each month to plan what you intend to do for the upcoming month. This can involve looking at what key tasks you need to complete, blocking out time to get them done, and making a to-do list of the less urgent tasks.

Also, use this time to refer back to your goals to make sure you are making progress toward them every month.

S—The goal is to plan for the month ahead
M—Once a month
A—Easily attainable
R—Relevant if wanting to be more organized
T—One month

SMART Goals Will Make You a Better Programmer

Becoming a better programmer doesn’t happen overnight. It requires dedication, commitment, drive, and consistency to continually improve.

Whether it’s your goal to progress up the career or ladder or go out in business on your own, the SMART goals in this post will help you to become a more rounded programmer.

However, the SMART goals in this post can always be adapted to suit your specific skillset. If there is a specific skill set you think you’re weak at, build a SMART goal that holds you accountable for improvement in that area.

About the author

Adam Jones

Adam Jones writes for The Growth Reactor which is a blog that will help you upgrade your life at start-up speed. The Growth Reactor provides all the latest actionable insights and tips on the most popular self-development trends to help you build the right habits to achieve all of your biggest goals in life.