Why SMART goals don’t work for me anymore

Reading my children’s college newsletter last night, I was thrilled to see that there were resources for goal setting to help senior school students make the most of their academic year.

On looking closely at the information, I realized that they were advocating SMART goals. There was the usual breakdown of what each letter stood for, and a quarterly chart to help students track how they were progressing in each of their goals.

Excellent stuff … except SMART goals don’t work for me.

I’m an emotional kind of person. I need to be moved – inspired – galvanized into action.

That doesn’t usually happen when I’m offered someone’s success blueprint or formula and told to follow it.

My logical side will say “That sounds good!” and make an attempt to follow through.

But after some time, my emotional side will say “This isn’t fun” or “This is too much work”, and then it starts to go downhill.

What I’ve found more helpful is to recognize when I’m sabotaging my own progress, what coaches call “getting in my own way”.

This is a good time to ask some hard but valuable questions:

  • What is it about this goal that’s bringing up the resistance? (Is there something else I want more? Will working on this goal cause me to lose other opportunities that are just as attractive?)
  • What will achieving this goal enable me to do? (This has to be something emotionally powerful: maybe a feeling of pride, being validated by others, or the look of joy and gratitude on my child’s face when I give her the thing she’s been asking for and that I kept putting off because it wasn’t in the family budget.)
  • What will achieving this goal prevent me from doing or deprive me of? (A big one, because freedom is one of my top values, so if I perceive that doing activity X will take away my freedom, even if only temporarily, it will still cause me to drag my feet because part of me doesn’t want to lose that freedom.)

So to help myself move forward, I’ve decided that what I need are SMARTER goals.

The extra E is for Excitement.

What will make this goal fun to work on? Maybe I could reward myself every time I complete a task related to it, by doing something I love and that is meaningful to me, or giving myself a special treat.

Activated almonds coated with cinnamon, anyone?

The extra R is for Risk.

There has to be an element of playing all out and possibly losing. It must require extra courage from me, and bring out my hidden competitiveness.

To up the Risk factor, I could design my goal setting to include Accountability to others.

For instance, I might announce to my mastermind group that I will do ABC. The thought of having to report back that I didn’t manage to do ABC will be so mortifying (and result in a loss of face) that it keeps me focused and disciplined so I actually complete ABC.

P.S. Do you find it a constant struggle to achieve your goals, even after all the mindset work and daily affirmations?

Does goal setting feel like hard work and a waste of time?

It may be worthwhile uncovering the hidden resistance factors that are keeping you stuck.

Book a mini taster session to experience how quickly you can resolve this struggle and start achieving goals with ease.