Episode 083: Don’t Set SMART Goals; Set These Instead

You’ve probably heard it so many times: to reach your goals you have to make them SMART.  Well, what if that’s not always true?  What if sometimes SMART goals aren’t so smart after all?  Listen to this episode to hear what is smarter than SMART.

(c) Thinkstock

(c) Thinkstock

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On This Episode

Rhythm of Life – My Not-so-One-Word for 2018
Random Riffs – TV Has Gotten WAY Too Complicated
Feature Segment – Don’t Set SMART Goals; Set These Instead

Today’s Quote

Goals help you channel your energy into action.  –Les Brown

Rhythm of Life – My Not-So-One-Word For 2018

Do you find yourself frustrated with New Year’s Resolutions?  You’ve heard the stats on how few people actually follow through. According to this HuffPost article, only 8% of people keep their resolutions.

If you’ve heard me for a while, you know I’m not a big fan of resolutions.  Who would be with a 92% failure rate?  What works instead?

What has helped me – One Word.  Instead of coming up with several resolutions, I have one theme for the year.

This year my One Word isn’t going to be one word.  It’s a phrase from Brene Brown’s latest book, Braving the Wilderness.   STRONG BACK.  SOFT FRONT.  WILD HEART.

Listen to hear what this phrase means to me and how I’ll use it.

Want to get off the Resolution train?  Want to stop beating yourself up?  Have a theme instead.  One Word.  It’s not too late.  Do it today.

Random Riffs – Television Has Gotten WAY Too Complicated

I saw an article written by Ryan Nakashima for the Associated Press in my local paper.   What was the headline?  Understanding the New Televisions.

Woah!  I guess times have changed.  Television has gone high-tech.  Unfortunately, all too often high-tech means complicated.

The article says there are 7 different types/features of TV now.  Each requires translation.

  1. HD/4K/8K
  2. OLED – Organic light-emitting diodes.  (Calling this organic is like saying fruit roll-ups are made from fruit.
  1. MicroLED
  2. LCD

There were several others I'm not going to go into.  Including one he called  Quantum Dots, QLED, QDEF, and Q-whatever.

Keep this in mind if you’re designing something: it’s easy to make it more complicated.  The hard thing is to make something simple.  Elegant.

Feature Segment – Don’t Set SMART Goals; Set These Instead

You’ve probably been inundated with people telling you how to achieve your goals.  After all, it’s the beginning of the year.  Goals are a hot topic.

Many people advertise systems that contain some version of SMART goals.  SMART is an acronym by Peter Drucker.  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound.

Who am I to argue with Peter Drucker?  It sounds great, doesn’t it?  But here’s the thing.  Sometimes SMART isn’t all that smart.  Today in our eighth episode in our Life 2.x mini-series, we’ll explore what’s not necessarily smart about SMART goals.

Prior Life 2.x episodes:

Episode 076 – Why Start With Joy
Episode 077 – How to Live With Joy
Episode 078 – How to Measure Your Life
Episode 079 – What Steals Joy
Episode 080 – The Birth of Hope
Episode 081 – 3 Road-signs to Follow Instead of Passion
Episode 082 – What to Do When Tested

I talked about this before on Episode 025  about project management.  Things always happen.  We can’t predict what they will be.  We try using FMEA and other tools, but something unexpected is bound to happen.

My crackerjack technology team has been estimating, planning, and executing projects for more than 20 years. Yet, pretty routinely something doesn’t go according to plan.  It will take longer.  Can’t be done as expected.  Or something.  So if people with +20 years’ experience can’t get this exactly right, what makes you think you should have to?  That’s problem I have with SMART goals.  They’re a bit too precise.  Under the wrong circumstances.

What’s wrong with SMART in all circumstances?

  1. They only work for goals with a timeframe shorter than 90 days.
  2. They don’t get into the emotional aspect of goals. Relevant isn’t enough when the going gets tough.

So what are we supposed to do instead?  –Don’t make everything a goal.  Make it a vision, strategy, project plan, or a roadmap.

Listen to the episode to hear how each is defined and how you can use them.  Not only that, but how you can create a plan for yourself that actually works!

In the end, goals are meant to serve us, not other way around.  They’re meant to further the vision you have for yourself, your family, team, or organization.

If your goals aren't moving as well as you'd like, reach out to me.  I’ve got a few coaching spots open.  One or two sessions might be just what you need to get you moving again.  Click the link, and we can talk about how you can have that Life 2.x you’ve been dreaming of.

Yes! Let's Talk Coaching

In the meantime, be smarter than SMART.  Don’t use SMART goals to the exclusion of everything else.  Have a combination of vision, goals, story and tasks.  Throw in a great strategy and a heavy dose of commitment, and you’ve got a winning combination – your 2.x life.

Question:  What do you think about SMART goals?  Have you found times when they did or did not work?  Leave a comment.



Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Debra Healey

    Hi Kathleen, I agree, I’ve not been a fan of SMART goals unless it is for a short term specific project. I did use SMART goals to finish my exit and succession plan in 2017 and in that situation it was a fit. Now that I’m in a new phase of life, I’m much more a fan of “just being” , having vision, strategy and using a road map. The interesting thing is that I can vision the road map and then when detours arise, just go with it!

    • I absolutely LOVE the “just go with it” approach, Deb. Especially, as you say, when detours arise, as they always do. And what have you seen differently when you go with it? What new opportunities or possibilities arose?

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