Why SMART goals are not smart enough
When it comes to goal setting, SMART is seen as the way forward. The Acronym SMART stands for:
- Achievable or Agreed upon (originally Assignable),
- Realistic and
In my view however, SMART goals are not smart enough, especially for entrepreneurs and business owners. In this blog let’s talk about why SMART goals fail to deliver and what’s missing from the SMART principles of goalsetting.
Specific and Measurable
Specific and Measurable means that your goal needs to be well-defined and crystal clear. That often translates into a number – 3 new clients, 50K in new revenue before a certain date etcetera so we know whether we have achieved the goal or not.
Now, clarity is great, but it is not enough to just express this in numbers. When you pick a number, why? Is it because this is a step closer towards your vision, your dream? What emotion is behind it? How do you imagine you will feel when you reached your goal? Getting your feelings and emotions into alignment is a key factor in successfully achieving your goal.
If you set the number because you think you should or because others do the same, you could be setting yourself up to fail. Instead set your goals to allow you to achieve them on your own terms.
There are basically two ways you can feel about your goal, that will determine whether you achieve or not.
Expand or contract.
If your goal feels expansive and it makes you want to stretch yourself, you’ll be more likely to achieve. You may even want to stretch yourself a little bit further. You’ve got nothing to lose.
When you do get that number right, you can measure, track and know that you will achieve.
If your goal feels like you want to hide under the table or run away screaming, fear will probably get in your way unless you really work on your mindset and your emotions.
Achievable and Realistic
Entrepreneurs and business owners often start their business with an idea, with a vision or a dream. It requires some out-of-the-box thinking that by others would be perceived as completely unrealistic and not very achievable.
Entrepreneurs often don’t really know yet how things are going to happen, they just have this passionate belief that it will. And they decide that the ‘impossible’ is possible and go after it, achieving it no matter what. They are prepared to invest time, energy and money and do what it takes. They also know when they need to delegate and be smart with their time.
Is there enough time to achieve the goal you’ve set? We know that time tends to expand into the space that you allow, if you allow too much time it will take that time. If you allow too little time, you set yourself up for failure. That’s when a time span is very useful.
With some goals though, having a time limit is not useful at all. When we innovate, when we are exploring new ways, the achievement of the goal will come in perfect timing. Achieving that goal depends on passion, unshakeable belief that it is possible, persistence, being consistent, thinking outside the box, creativity.
Are SMART goals really smart?
What SMART goals don’t help you to do is to determine whether the goals you set are right for where you are in your business and whether they are right for you. Are the goals you set moving your business forward or not? If you need your first customers, then don’t focus on implementing systems to scale your business or complicated marketing strategies. Be smart with your time, it really is a limited resource. Assess regularly what works and what doesn’t. Take some time to work on your business, rather than in it.
You also need a plan that you can implement, knowing what practices and habits that you need to adopt to achieve your goals. How do you stay as productive as possible, how do you keep accountable? What do you do when you notice resistance in taking certain actions? How about self-care? This may seem obvious, but not having a plan is what is standing between you and the goals you want to achieve.
At the end of the day, it’s not about setting goals, it’s about achieving them. How that makes you feel. Sometimes achieving your goals goes against all common sense, against what everyone else says, but you still go for it. It’s about doing what you can to make a difference for your clients, your customers or even society as a whole and living your own life to the fullest. Moving towards that vision, making your dream reality no matter what.