We Hate Making SMART Goals. Here’s Why…

We were at a workshop recently and we were asked to make SMART goals. In was in this moment we realised something… we hate making SMART goals.

If you don’t know what a SMART goal is Google it (or attend any workshop, 90% of them will cover them). There’s a ton of content about them out there so we aren’t going to cover it in detail here, but basically SMART Goals say your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Bound, so rather than saying something like “I want to make lots more money next year”, you would say something like “I want to increase my turnover by £20,000 by the end of 2016.”

We have lost count now of the amount of times we have been asked to make these types of goals, and although the principle behind them is sound, here’s our big deal with them… we are passionate, enthusiastic, excitable, go-getters… and being SMART basically kills our buzz.

Back to this workshop we recently attended, we made our SMART Goal, the instructor comes around and he says to us:

“That’s a good goal, is it realistic?”
“Yes” we reply, pretty confidently,
“OK, I think that should be do-able” he says unenthusiastically
We looked at our goal again, and realised ‘OK it is SMART, but it is bloody boring’

Do you think the people who achieved anything noteworthy achieved anything by being SMART? Or do you think they achieved it by being fearless? Stephen Hawking was told he wouldn’t live past his 20’s, do you think he would have thought back then it would be realistic for him to achieve all he has achieved? Do you think in 1966 when Richard Branson failed to sell Christmas Trees and budgerigars it would have been thought ‘achievable’ to set up a multinational, highly successful, highly profitable company?

See the issues here? SMART goals are pessimistic and automatically make you think conservatively about what you can achieve. As small business owners we are already susceptible to our own self-limiting beliefs when at work. Goals are no place for these self-limiting beliefs too.

So let’s shake it up then! What should goals really do? 

So instead we want you to create goals for your business and your marketing that excite you, that are emotionally charged, that motivate you, and that even may scare you a little. Our goals should get us out of the bed in the morning, our goals should put a smile on our face, our goals should get us through tough times, and our goals should push us past our limiting beliefs.

So, forget SMART, we want you to set your goals FREE:

Emotionally Charged

Fun – Goals should really come from a place of enjoyment. Are we working towards increasing our turnover, or are we really working towards the things that we believe will be available to us once we have done that?

Ridiculous – Simply think big. We can achieve big things if we put our mind to it. Here’s a story, earlier this year we set a goal of going to Social Media Marketing World in San Diego even though the event was in one months time. Tickets were approximately $1000, flights and accommodation even more. We hadn’t budgeted for it in advance, we hadn’t really prepared. It would have been SMART for us to write it off until next year, but we thought FREE. It one was of the best business decisions we have ever made.

Exciting – Business is tough and reaching goals can be hard work, so the prospect of achieving our goals must not only excite us, but the path to achieving them must excite us too.

Emotionally Charged – We’ve talked a lot about the Why in marketing, and the same can be said for goal setting. Whatever it is you do, knowing why you are doing it, and having that emotional connection to your goal takes the chance of it being achieved through the roof.

ACTION: Set yourself now a FREE Goal. Seriously, we want you to go wild. Set a goal for yourself that is so ridiculous, so fun, so exciting and so emotionally charged that you smile, laugh or cry just thinking about it.

ACTION: Once you have this goal in your head. Write it down somewhere (on a piece of paper, not typed up).

Now make all your decisions based on this goal with a simple question:

“Does doing this take me closer to my FREE goal?”

If you answer YES, do it. If you answer NO, don’t. It’s that simple.

We would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this. Let us know in the comments what you think about goal setting now. We really believe in this concept and would love to hear some of your thoughts on breaking through the barriers of traditional goal setting.

Talk soon!

Andrew and Pete


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