How SMART goals are killing your dreams, and what to do about it
It’s scary to me how we’ve gotten so wrapped up in setting SMART goals. SMART goals are those goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Somehow, SMART goals have become the staple for setting achievable goals. If you’ve ever had a goal that was important to you, chances are you turned it into a SMART goal.
A lot of people think that goal-setting and SMART goals are synonymous. However, that is not necessarily the case. As a matter of fact, it’s a pretty poor way of going about setting goals.
Is your goal specific? Can you realistically achieve the goal? If your answer isn’t a resounding “yes”, then you’re told not to go for it.
And that’s precisely what’s wrong with SMART goals. Has any goal that’s worthwhile been reasonably attainable?
Let that question sit for a moment.
- Think of the greatest achievements mankind has ever experienced:
Traveling to the moon
- Personal computers
- The 4-minute mile run
- Civil Rights Movement
- Women’s Rights Movement
- LGBT Social Movements
- Air travels and fighter jets
- The Discovery of America
None of these were reasonable. They weren’t realistic or time-bound.
Think about the journey to the moon. Was that reasonable? No. It really wasn’t. Was it time-bound? President Kennedy said, “within a decade”, so the time frame was ambiguous at best.
Where are the big dreams?
The problem we have in today’s world is that we’re all dominated by having realistic goals.
What happened to all the “walking on the moon” dreams? Where’s the “Let’s create an empire and take over the world” dreams?
They’ve been replaced with tasks that need to get done today. They’ve been replaced with smaller, more realistic SMART goals.
But it wasn’t a SMART goal for Columbus to travel west across the ocean to get to India. And in the process, finding America.
It wasn’t a SMART goal for Martin Luther King, Jr. to say, “Let’s march on Washington”.
It wasn’t a SMART goal for us to put people into a metal container and launch them into space.
These were not SMART goals.
They were seemingly impossible dreams. And they changed our world forever.
Yes, eventually we need to take a goal and break it out into measurable steps, but that’s where most people start; they start small.
Because we tend to smart small, our greatest achievements are limited to checking off items on a list or filling in a graphic organizer. But do these lists add more joy and vibrancy to our lives? They just become replaced with more things to do.
I want you to start thinking bigger for your life. Get over your failures, and get back on the path that matters to you and stop managing to-do lists.
When your life becomes managing lists of things to do, you end up losing the fire of inspiration and have a difficult time finding joy in your life.
When you opened up about your dreams to someone, they may have told you, “That goal sounds realistic. Go for it.” Because of that, there’s nothing exciting to work toward.
I want to challenge you to become inspired.
Instead of always defaulting to SMART goals, I want you to take the opposite approach.
I want you to try creating DUMB goals.
I learned about DUMB goals through my mentor, Brendon Burchard. DUMB stands for Dream-focused, Uplifting, Method-based, Behavior-triggered.
- Dream-Focused: Is what you’re seeking to achieve really your dream? If you were to achieve it, would it bring more vibrancy and meaning in your life?
- Uplifting: Is this goal uplifting? Will achieving it build you up, give you more purpose and happiness? What would you gain by achieving this goal?
- Method-Based: Does this goal have a blueprint for success? Following a proven method will increase your chances for success. For example, if you want to change your finances, follow a method proven to be successful.
- Behavior-Triggered. We have to establish a behavior trigger to help remind us of our goal. Otherwise, we’ll forget all about it. Ever try to diet only to forget that you were on a diet? Try to think of something that will frequently remind you that you are striving towards an important goal.
I love DUMB goals because they broaden our perspective.
They focus on setting goals that are important to us: buying that first home, setting up an annual vacation savings plan, or discovering our purpose.
DUMB goals push us to work towards creating a future we once only imagined was possible. Download this worksheet to help you structure your DUMB goal.
SMART goals aren’t relatable to your real dreams. They’re just something you check off and maybe give yourself a high five for completing.
I want you to move onto a whole other level. A new stratosphere of your work and contributions.
What goal could you have that would feel magical? What goal ignites a fire in you?The world needs that special gift that only you have to offer.
As soon as you figure out what that is, you can dream up something huge. When you look within yourself and figure out what you really want, you’ll have no choice but to ask yourself, “How do I do that?”
That’s what happened to me. That question changed my life.
I became a financial advisor to work with people just like me; young professionals in their thirties and forties. I wanted to help people just starting out in life with good jobs, but also a mountain of student debt.
My challenge was that I worked for a large Wall Street firm. These firms have substantial revenue goals for their advisors which traditionally can only be met through working with retirees.
If I made young professionals my niche, I’d be fired.
I really wanted to make this work. In my eyes, it was genius. 99 percent of financial advisors only work with retirees. I would be competing against less than 1 percent of the industry. Even though it wasn’t what Wall Street wanted me to do, it was an industry that was mine for the taking.
Naturally that lead me to the question, “How do I do that?”
I had no idea how to register as a Registered Investment Advisor. I didn’t know anything about student loans or planning for college. I just knew those were the skills required to serve the needs of growing families.
First, look deep inside yourself to figure out what it is you really want to do. If you could accomplish any goal, what would make you happy? When you get to the point where you’ve zeroed in on your goal, use this worksheet to it into a Dream-focused, Uplifting, Method-based, Behavior-triggered goal.
“How do I do that?” is a life changing question, and I’d like to help you find the answer.
Now I want to hear from you.
What kind of questions do you have for me? If they’re good enough, I’ll answer them on my next episode of #AskTommy.