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
  • Telecommunication
  • Electricity
  • 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.

How Smart Goals Are Killing Your Dreams And What to do about it


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.


D.U.M.B. goals

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.

5 Steps to Buying Your First Home

Buying your first home is a huge milestone in your life. For most people, it’s one of the biggest purchases they’ll ever make, which is why it’s very important to take this whole process very seriously. You don’t want to pay more for a home than you have to. And you don’t want to end up over your head with a mortgage payment you can’t afford.

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5 Life Lessons I’ve Learned In My 30s

I recently celebrated my 40th birthday. Because this is a new chapter in my life, a new decade, I wanted to find something valuable that I could share with you. Having reflected upon my thirties, I found a major theme and dominated the last ten years of my life.

I discovered that my thirties was dominated by pressure and responsibility. It’s important to understand your relationship with each because it can be easy to let the pressures of life weigh us down. We have bills to pay, traffic to deal with and people that are just rude. There’s also the demands of our husbands and wives, sons and daughters, bosses and clients. It’s a lot.

Learning to master the pressures of life will help you live your most expansive, expressive and meaningful life.  You will be able to initiate crucial conversations, make 5-second decisions, and work towards what’s most important to you.

I’m committed to sharing the best of what I’m living and learning, and to keep it real and honest. Here are 5 Life Lessons I’ve Learned In My Thirties. Enjoy.


1. Don’t be all work and stress

My thirties was a time dominated by my desire to keep moving forward. I had built two companies from the ground up. My wife and I brought two children into the world and raised them with our values.

If we’re not careful, we could end up with too much pressure and responsibility to enjoy life. If you’re all work and stress —if you’re dealing with pressure all the time — it’s going to weigh you down. It’s possible to be so busy raising your children that you don’t have the time to enjoy them. If you’re busy chasing after your children, changing their diapers, getting your kids to and from school -it’s all work and no play. You won’t be happy. You’ll be too busy.

Don’t get lost building whatever it is you’re working on: your family, your career, your hobbies. Find a healthy release to keep a light-hearted spirit. Don’t be so serious all the time.


2. Avoid bad relationships

If you don’t take the time to enjoy your life, you won’t have good relationships. Nobody wants to be around a grumpy, sour person. Similarly, it’s difficult to enjoy your life while letting bad relationships into your home or business.

We all experience that person that always seems to make wrong decisions in life. Maybe they’re childhood friends or a family member. Just being around these people is exhausting. And, the only time it seems they call is when they want to discuss their problems. Like the good friend you are, you listen. You offer your opinion. But they never seem to listen.

Getting rid of bad friends can do great things for your mental health. You also become receptive to forging new and better friends. And that’s awesome.

If you need help ending a bad relationship, check out this article from Dr Juliana Breines.


3. Find a reason to laugh every day

I love my wife. She always finds something to laugh about throughout the day. Even if it’s me that she’s laughing at.

We work from home. I could be in another part of the house and hear her laughing about something. Being a curious person, I have to see what’s going on -because I can hear her laughing so hard.

The funny thing is, it wasn’t even funny. It was just a video clip of a dog that someone posted on Facebook. Other people would have ignored it, or just give it a thumbs up and move on. Not my wife. She’s always looking for a reason to laugh. She loves to have fun. She keeps a joyful atmosphere in our home.

Finding a reason to laugh every day will help you relieve physical tension and stress. It leaves your muscles feeling relaxed for almost an hour. Laughter also boosts our immune systems and decreases stress hormones.  Clearly, laughter heals more than just the soul.

If you were to log into my Netflix account, you’d be amazed to see all my recommended videos are stand-up comics. Finding reasons to laugh, helps me deal with life’s pressures.


4. Keep respect and laughter in your relationship

This is the secret sauce to happiness in any relationship. Always respect your spouse -even when your girls or guys are bad-talking their spouse.

Love is the ability to forgive your spouse. It’s the ability to forgive them and then forget whatever it was they did. If you can’t do that, you’re not in love. Forgive and forget, then try to find the humour in it all. A family that laughs together stays together.

Couples that fall apart stop laughing. They stop having fun. They let the pressures of life take them over. There are bills to pay and children to raise. They’re busy dealing with problems and don’t see eye-to-eye on every situation. Having a high regard for your partner, respecting them and find joy together is what’s going to help you through the tough times. Laughing together and having fun, that’s going to help keep you together.

I was meeting with a potential new client. It was clear that she was annoyed with her husband. Everything he said just irritated her. She told me that she’s not sure if they’re going to be together in the future. In short, their laughter died. They let division into their home.

How long has it been since there’s been laughter in your home? Maybe you could take your relationship to a new level if you could bring joy and happiness into your home. Speak highly of your spouse. Avoid gossip. That’s going to bring tension, division and stress into your home. That will only drive you apart.

If you want help understanding your partner, check out this book: Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, by Dr John Gray.


5. Make your home a cheerful place

If you’ve ever held a job, you’ve felt the pressures of work-related stress. Even if you love what you do, your job can have stressful elements. We have unreasonable deadlines on projects and revenue quotas to meet. And there’s always that call from a customer that took over an hour to resolve.

Unfortunately, work-related stress doesn’t just disappear when you head home for the day. We often bring it home. We want to share it with our husband or wife. When stress persists, it can take a toll on your health and well-being.

Yes, we all need to deal with tension and stress. But you need to create a joyful atmosphere in your home. Don’t bring home pressure from work or stress from school. Leave it at the front door. Your home should be a retreat from the negative things that you have to deal with during the day. Your home should be a cheerful place.

If your stress levels are high try going to the gym. You’ll feel fabulous after a good workout.


In conclusion

I wasn’t looking forward to turning 40. In truth, I dreaded it. It almost felt like I was losing something. However, my wife threw me a Big 4-0 party with all my friends and I had a good time. I laughed a lot.

From there, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to grow into a grumpy old man. I’m not going to get more and more sour, the older I get and the more responsibility I have. I’m going to stay full of joy. I’m going to have fun in my forties.

As you live out your thirties, work hard. Make good progress toward your financial goals. Give yourself permission to enjoy your life. Don’t be all work and stress. Bring some cheer to people around you and put a smile on your face.


I want to hear from you

Do you have a pressing question. If so you can drop it in the comments below or ask me privately. If it’s good enough, I’ll answer it and mention you on my next Q&A Tuesday on TommyTV.


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