Goals · Personal Development

Should goals be HARD not SMART?

For years I’ve been taught (in highschool, university and in the workplace) that setting SMART goals is the best way – goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. While I agree that yes, goals should be Specific, Measurable and Timely…are the Achievable and Realistic actually parts holding us back???

I recently read a study done by the Leadership IQ Consultancy where they examined 4,128 workers from 397 organizations and found that SMART goals don’t actually correlate with success. In fact, we and organizations should be doing the opposite! What did they mean by that? Well if you think about it, if your going to set goals that are Achievable (with your current resources and knowledge) then you won’t be forced to learn new skills to achieve them – if this doesnt’ scream ‘plateau in personal/professional development’ I’m not sure what does. So, instead we should be setting goals that are unachievable with our current toolbox so that we are forced to grow in order to achieve them, makes sense to me!

Secondly, why would we set goals that are Realistic if we are striving for greatness?!  We need to set goals that are totally unrealistic, goals that are bigger than ourselves and part of a greater purpose. Will Smith said it best when he said, “being realistic is the most commonly travelled road to mediocrity. Why would you ever be realistic? Walking into a room and flicking a swtich and then having the room be eluminated, now that’s unrealistic, thankfully Edison didn’t think so.” …Amen! 

While SMART goals may serve their purpose in providing guidance and structure to help a mass audience set goals, times are changing and I think this process needs to be re-examined. Frankly, I think one of the first places change needs to happen in schools – at a young age. We need to teach kids to dream bigger, to strive for greatness, to do and be whatever their little hearts desire – a pilot, a rockstar, a teacher, whatever it is lets capture and nourish it!  This is a HUGE passion of mine so stay tuned for more blog posts on it.

The study also revealed 8 key predictors of whether somebody’s goals were going to help them achieve greatness. Based on these 8 characteristics the Leadership IQ suggested that a new goal-setting process called HARD goals should be put into place as people felt that setting goals that were tailored to the HARD (as opposed to SMART) acronym would help them achieve greatness.  HARD goals are:

Heartfelt – Goals that enrich the life of someone else.

Animated – Goals where you can vividly picture how good it will feel once you’ve achieve them.

Required –  Goals that are absolutely nessecary to help you  (and/or your company) get to where you want to be.

Difficult – Goals that will force you to learn new skills and leave your comfort zone to achieve them.

So what do you think? SMART goals? HARD goals? Other goal setting processes?

2 thoughts on “Should goals be HARD not SMART?

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