I’m a huge fan of setting goals for myself and the companies I run. What I’m not a fan of are S.M.A.R.T. goals. As you may know, S.M.A.R.T. goals stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are rampant in organizations and also a methodology used by individuals all over the world. This is ironic because I don’t think setting a S.M.A.R.T. goal is smart at all. It’s the exact opposite.
The reason I dislike S.M.A.R.T. goals is because of the A. The word “achievable” scares me. Why make a goal that’s achievable? What’s the point of that? So you can check off a box and look good in front of your boss?
Who wants to create a goal that is realistically achievable? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the goal itself? I can create a S.M.A.R.T. goal, one that’s easily finished in one afternoon. I can check it off my to-do list and tell the world I met my goal. But I don’t think sandbagging is the right approach– and it’s not even fun.
The goal you set should be hard to achieve. It shouldn’t be easy to meet your aspirational goal.
For example, when I was marketing my book, Lead from the Core, I set a goal to be a New York Times Best Seller. I knew this was going to be a hard thing to do. Maybe near impossible. And you know what? I didn’t meet that goal. But it did become a Wall Street Journal Best Selling Book, coming in at No. 9. Words can’t describe how happy I was.
Did I meet my goal? No. Did I achieve something pretty darn good? Absolutely.
Here’s the kicker. If I had never set the goal of becoming a NYT best-selling author, I truly don’t believe I would have been able to become a WSJ best-selling author. The stretch goal made me want it more. It made me work harder. It made me come up with creative solutions. Setting a goal I knew was virtually impossible gave me all the energy I needed.
You can’t be afraid of losing. You just can’t.
If you’re afraid of losing, set a S.M.A.R.T. goal for yourself. The word on the street is that it makes you feel good but doesn’t actually get you anywhere closer to your real goals. You might get a participation trophy at the end, too.
If you want to go far in life, set goals that aren’t achievable. That’s the baseline. So when making your new year’s resolutions this time, set some goals you knowingly and proudly won’t keep.