When I started learning about electronics, I never cared about goal setting…
I had no clue about what it was. As soon as I had an idea, I brought out my soldering iron and started to put things together. Even though that was fun, it wasn’t very efficient. And a lot of the times I never finished what I started…
It wasn’t until several years later that I stumbled upon a technique called SMART goal setting. And it was really a game changer.
SMART goal setting is super useful when you want to build electronic projects. It helps you clarify what you are trying to do. And it makes it much easier to estimate project costs, tasks that need to be completed and time needed to finish the project.
It is very easy to overlook the job that needs to be done after you have made a functional circuit. This is something I have overlooked many times. My strength is in getting things to work, but my weakness is making a project look well and mechanically stable.
A SMART goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Let’s say you have already found your idea. You decided you want to create an amplifier circuit. How can you use SMART goal setting?
Your goal needs to be specific so that it’s clear what you are trying to do. Here are two methods to make it clearer what you want to create:
- Draw/sketch your finished project. Make a simple drawing of the finished project. Is it in a box? Is it connected to anything? Is it just a circuit board? Is it connected to batteries or a bench power supply?
- Visualize the finished product in use. Sit in a comfortable chair and relax. Close your eyes and visualize yourself in the future when the project is completed. Imagine trying to use the finished project. Notice any details that come up.
If you do these exercises, maybe you realize that you want to create a fully functional amplifier for your desktop computer.
An important part of SMART goal setting is making the goal measurable. This means that it should be easy to measure if your goal is completed or not. Can you measure if you have created a fully functional amplifier for your computer? Maybe, but even better if you add some clarification.
So you clarify and find that your goal is to create a fully functional amplifier circuit for your computer with casing, power supply, volume knob, on/off button, AUX input and contacts for speaker output.
Is your goal an achievable goal? If your goal involves soldering many Ball Grid Array (BGA) components by hand with your $10 soldering iron, then maybe you should reconsider your goal.
Just ask yourself if you really believe that it’s possible to achieve your goal.
Is the goal relevant for you? Are you motivated to go through with this? Is this the right time?
How much time will you give yourself to accomplish your goal?
This part of SMART goal setting is easy to skip, I know I have on many occasions. But setting a time frame helps you focus your efforts to complete the project within the given duration and usually helps you reach your goal much faster than without a time limit.
SMART amplifier goal
Here is an example of how state the desire to build an amplifier as a SMART goal:
“Within three months, I have completed a fully functional amplifier circuit for my computer with casing, power supply, volume knob, on/off button, AUX input and contacts for speaker output”
Do you use goals when building a project? Post your comments below.