Do S.M.A.R.T. Goals Work? This Is Better

Photo by Khamkhor on Unsplash

It might have worked in the 1980s but today, the books are wrong. They tell you that you must have specific goals with a measurable time line. You have to achieve them in a S.M.A.R.T. way. There may be some truth to that for some goals, but it is not the only way. And certainly not the best way. Here why …

Most often, S.M.A.R.T. goals will hold you back.

According to a Forbes article, “People who set S.M.A.R.T. goals are less likely to love their job by 11 percentage points as compared to people who set goals out of their reach.

S.M.A.R.T. goals can be effective for tasks and ordinary goals, like a project that needs to get done. They can work well if you are already a list maker, logical thinker, or if you are achieving a predetermined corporate goal set by the manager.

In my experience, most people don’t know how to set goals or achieve them. That’s because nobody taught us how to set goals. In this sense, any goal framework is going to help you get focused and achieve more.

But there is a big problem with S.M.A.R.T. goals.
You won’t achieve anything remarkable.

S.M.A.R.T. goals are the wrong methodology for achieving big, bold goals, living a life with passion, or living your life’s purpose.

What is S.M.A.R.T.?
As a reminder because you probably already have heard this before, S.M.A.R.T is a mnemonic acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound. This is generally attributed to Peter Drucker, but originally published by George T. Doran in 1981, according to Wikipedia.

Back then, this was a ground-breaking idea that has served corporate leaders very well. It was an easy way to set up guardrails to keep employees working together towards a specific outcome. It is also a way to hold employees accountable to be praised or reprimanded.

But not everybody works in the corporate world. Not everyone flourishes at achieving in a systematic robotic way. Entrepreneurs and creative people’s minds do not work well with the structure of S.M.A.R.T. goals because it is rigid, boring and uninspiring. This kills the productivity and creativity.

This is why so many people struggle with goal setting and achieving.

This is why S.M.A.R.T. goals fail.
It feels like, and it often is, an artificial structure for an arbitrary goal. This means that there is little internal motivation to achieve it significantly increasing the odds of failure.

There is no significant incentive for success, other than to keep your job. Woo-hoo, let’s do it to make the boss happy as we are overworked by a person who doesn’t know how to set goals himself. If you are in this predicament of just keeping your job, then you’re in the wrong job. You should never stay in a job that sucks your soul dry, doing things that have no meaning to you.

You need to start looking for a job that you actually enjoy and read this article,

The S.M.A.R.T. method fails miserably for entrepreneurs, consultants, and creatives because this method of goal setting is not aligned with how our minds work. It also fails because there is no meaning and purpose, built into the goals. This is something we desperately need to perform at a high level.

It doesn’t matter which method of goal setting you use. If your goals and dreams are missing the magic, the goal setting method will fail you every time. Or it will be achieved with no sense of pleasure or fulfillment.

What is the magic?
No, it is not a different acronym. The last thing we need are more awkward acronyms. The magic is the thing that brings you alive. The thing that gives you passion for a goal. The thing that wakes you up excited to start the day and makes it hard for you to fall asleep because you are filled with enthusiasm. The magic is what makes you lose track of time while you are working.

Many people go through life and never find the magic in their work. Many go to work in a job they do not like only to do the minimum necessary to keep their job and pay the bills.

This isn’t a life worth living. This is like sitting in the waiting room frustrated by how long it is taking and hoping that someone will call their name to walk though the door to a better life. But their name is never called, even after they wasted their whole life waiting.

Life isn’t always fun. Achieving isn’t always rewarding. Plus some things are outright boring or laborious. But that should not be day-to-day norm. But merely a necessary step towards something amazing.

If your life is not filled with a sense of purpose and accomplishment, you are doing something wrong and it is probably time to make some changes.

If not S.M.A.R.T goals, then what works?
Big, Bold, Audacious Goals that light you up. Something that when you work on it, you lose track of time because you were so focused. Something that makes you forget about the mind numbing, time wasting busy-work activities like checking email, and seeing how many likes you got on social media, that are used to distract us from the drone of horrible work.

Some may say something like, “You have to be realistic.” Being realistic is the fast path to a mediocre life, an underpaid job, and low job satisfaction.

Why it is realistic, to be unrealistic.
Bold and unrealistic goals are inspiring and motivating. They are challenging and that can make them fun, or at least rewarding. They give your work and activities meaning and direction because the goal itself is part of the magic. Bold goals will change your life. And maybe others’ lives too.

For example. Which goal would you rather work on?

1 — Increase sales revenue by 10% this quarter
2 — Double my personal income in 3 months.

Increasing sales by 10% … yawn!

But double my income in 3 months. That’s probably exciting and inspiring.

The naysayers will shout, “I can’t double my income in 3 months.” They are right, THEY cannot, but anyone with a big enough reason and some hustle to do it … absolutely can.

What is going to inspire you more?

Get a $1 per hour raise
Start a side hustle that you love and makes you an extra $50k a year?

Society, parents and Uncle Charlie have seduced you into thinking small and reasonable because it’s safe. Because it is the information you hear from schools and people who were afraid to follow their dreams. When in reality, it is a plague on personal happiness and living a life of meaning.

How To Achieve Big Bold Goals
Aim high, choose a target, and then massive take action.
That’s it.

Don’t overthink it.
Over action it!

That means take big bold action towards your dreams and goals.

Martin Luther King blessed us with this sage advice, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

When you do that, everything else will fall into place as if by magic. When you focus and hustle towards a goal, even if you don’t have a freaking clue how you are going to get there.

Somehow, some way, you will figure it out.

Everything unimportant will fall to the wayside. This is the part of the magic, the things that normally distract you and waste your time, no longer distract you.

You don’t have to know all the details. Sometimes that is to your advantage if you don’t. You just need to take massive action in one forward direction towards a big, bold goal that gives your life meaning and purpose.

If you don’t go boldly towards your dreams, then you will be working for someone to make their big, bold dream a reality. And frankly, that freaking pathetic.

Do I plan at all?
Of course you plan, but the most of your time and effort goes into focused action taking in the direction of your goals. Not over planning and analyzing. Take action, adjust course, then take more massive action, and repeat.

Most people get stuck in thinking and over-analyzing but don’t take nearly enough action. Often they don’t take any action because they are worried about getting it wrong. Let me let you in on a little secret. You will get it wrong. Over and over. Like you have with everything in your life. This is how life works. Those who succeed take action, stumbling and failing along the way, until they get the result they want.

Many don’t take action because they worry about what other people will think or say. Well, when you don’t take action, then you fail by default. That is the worst way to fail.

I worked for an electrician for a year, but I knew nothing about electrical work when I started. He would see that I was over thinking it and not doing anything. He would always say to me, “Do something … even if it is wrong.”

It took me a while to truly understand what he meant because I wanted to get it right. If you don’t take action, you fail by default. If you take action, and even if what you do is wrong, you still failed forward. The worse case is that you learned how not to do it. That means that you made progress. Then you correct course and you keep moving forward.

Until when?
Until you have the success you are looking for.

The reality … there is no one perfect formula to setting and achieving goals. But there is one thing that will make all the difference in your success?

Take bold action to create your life with meaning.

Speaking of action, click the link below to get a free gift from me.




Making money while I sleep w automated income because 9–5 is a miserable way to live. Expat living travel lifestyle. 28 countries. 2 world records. TEDx speaker

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Croix Sather

Croix Sather

Making money while I sleep w automated income because 9–5 is a miserable way to live. Expat living travel lifestyle. 28 countries. 2 world records. TEDx speaker

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