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SMART Goals Are for Dummies

by Don Current on February 28, 2011

For Dummies

photo courtesy East Branch of the Dayton Metro Library

You’ve heard of SMART goals, haven’t you? Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely are the words that make up the acronym. When you develop goals, you are supposed to keep these factors in mind. I think you’re wasting your time if you do.

Before the lynch mobs arrive, let me explain myself. I do agree that goals need to be specific and measurable if you expect them to accomplish anything. Too many people create these fluffy goals that are too easy to just claim you’ve achieved them. There needs to be a specific purpose and a measurable result so that you know for sure if you have or have not reached the goal.

Goals also need to have a time limit set. If you don’t set a specific time, it’s easy to let the activity drag on and on without ever reaching a conclusion. Set a date, and then push yourself to achieve it.

It’s the achievable and realistic portion that I disagree with. There are two reasons I disagree with this.

First of all, I believe we need to stretch ourselves. You don’t want to set a goal that is too easily reached. We need to push ourselves and not set an easy goal just so we can put  a check mark in the box. We are better off to establish a lofty goal and then miss it by a little, then to achieve an easy goal that is well within reach.

The other factor I believe realistic goals miss is the “God factor”. I believe we will reach far greater  heights if we set goals that we cannot achieve on our own and leave room for God to work.

So set Specific, Measurable, and Timely goals, and then stretch yourself and your faith so that you can reach new heights.

Any other factors you can think of that we should include when goal setting?

  • Matt Wegner

    Don, you make some compelling points about setting stretch goals. There is some value, however, in setting goals within your reach. The emotional value of hitting your goals vs. never quite getting there can be pretty powerful. It’s kind of like the debt snowball – making progress feels good and keeps you motivated.

    Having said that, it’s not good to continuously set easy goals. Routinely setting the bar too low can be detrimental too.

    Good post!

    • Don Current

      Yes, definitely a good point Matt. Everyone needs some of those quick “wins” to keep the motivation going. It would be a good idea in those stretch goals to build in some smaller stepping stones that get a little bigger with each step to help keep that motivation going.
      Thanks for the excellent comment!