Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Are Your SMART Goals Smart Enough?

It’s that time of year. New Year’s Goals - affectionately known as resolutions - are everywhere. For many, these annual resolutions often serve as a set-up for failure. The evidence is all around us: diets started January 1st that soon fall apart; crowded gyms that empty out by the end of February; ambitious work and relationship goals that quickly dissipate, etc. Why does this phenomenon consistently occur each year? We all know about goals – specifically the need to ensure that they embody the SMART goal structure: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound. So, assuming that the SMART goal method is an optimal system for setting and realizing goals, why does this technique consistently fail? In other words, what’s the missing link?

I propose that the missing link is around motivation and passion – essential elements in the goal realization arena. When goals, however SMART they might be, are primarily externally motivated, it becomes increasingly challenging to sustain the requisite motivation and energy to sustain our forward momentum. Think about it. Who are you setting your goals for and why? Goals that we are passionate about – ones that are personally meaningful and internally generated – activate the mental, physical and creative energy to move us through the inevitable challenges that arise as we move toward our goals. What sustains us through the times when nothing appears to be happening is our passion for and internal connection to our goal. Externally generated goals – those that you are not excited about, don’t feel connected to and are primarily taking on for someone else, fail to generate and sustain energy needed for the long haul.

As someone who is always taking on new goals and challenges, I find myself regularly asking when the going gets rough: “What do I really want? Who am I doing this for? Am I still committed to this outcome?” It’s amazing how the answers to these seemingly simple questions serve to keep me on track, even when the answers may result in changing my direction or taking on a different goal. I invite you to try out these questions when your SMART goals are not smart enough and notice what happens.


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