You are using an outdated browser. For a faster, safer browsing experience, upgrade for free today.


Stop Doing S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Smart Goals

Smart Goals

Click to Watch

Ditch S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Something Better

By John Grubbs

What are traditional SMART goals?  Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based are the most common translation of this acronym.  At first glance, these seem to make sense.  They are common for goal setting and a fixture in the contemporary business vernacular.  So what is the problem?

The issue I have with these type goals is mediocrity.  Specific, measurable, and time-based are not the problem.  We need specificity in our goals.  This provides needed focus.  Measurable is essential for tracking progress toward a goal.  Time-based avoids open-ended goals.

I have a problem with attainable and realistic.  To be honest, these words make me sick to my stomach.  They sound very average.  We are setting a goal to be average.  Who makes it a goal to be average?  Who makes it a goal to common?  Who makes is a goal to be ordinary?  Give me a break!

Attainable goals translate to an easy target.  Who wants easy targets for our lives?  Who desires an easy target for our businesses? Where did the preoccupation with easy come from?  Sadly, life makes us mediocre.  When we children, we had big goals.  We could be a professional football player, president, and an astronaut all at the same time.  We dreamed big until other people started making us think small. 

Parents and teachers started making us think small.  This was not intentional.  Most parents do not desire mediocrity for children.  However, life started telling us to think small when we started school.  Small is safe.  We won’t get hurt or disappointed if we set small goals.  These human “boat-anchors” wanted to protect us by making us think safe.

How do we know what we are capable of if we make goals we know we can attain?  What if we have the potential to reach higher?  We will never know unless we are willing to fail big.  We should be realistic in our goal setting.  We have been conditioned to accept realistic. Where is the potential in realistic goals?

This is the most significant problem in business today.  We make small, average, realistic goals and achieve them.  It is no wonder so many small businesses fail.  Mediocrity is a disease.  We aim small and hit the target.  Where are the dreamers?  Jeff Bezos borrowed $300, 000 to start Amazon during the era of dial-up.  What if he listened to the people around him?  He wanted to create the largest book store in the world.  That is a massive goal.  It was not realistic.  He is now the wealthiest man in the world with the most valuable company in the world.

This is the deal.  Nobody wants to be ordinary, average, or common.  However, we listen to a world full of ordinary people tell us to be just like them.  Stop listening to ordinary people.  Ignore them.  When they criticize or laugh at your big goals, tune them out.  Your big goals will stretch, challenge, and push you!  These goals will make you more than you imagined in life.  We are in goal-setting season.  Think big with goals that make you afraid.  Fear is magic.

Change the “A” in SMART goals to aspirational.  Close synonyms for aspirational are ambitious, passionate, and wishful.  These are much better goals.  Replace the “R” with radical goals.  Close synonyms for radical are profound, essential, and uncompromising.  Wow!  Be uncompromising about your goals.

Following are the new SMART goals:

  • Specific - $1,000,000 in sales
  • Measurable – sales is something that can be measured
  • Aspirational – You have only reached $100,000 in sales in the past
  • Radical – This is ten times the best year ever
  • Time-based – by the end of this year

The challenge is to eliminate the old smart goals.  Let them die with mediocrity.  Push yourself like never before.  What if you make a 10X goal to reach $1 million in sales and only hit $500 thousand?  That is five times the best you have ever done!  When you hear the old smart goals, challenge them as ordinary.  The world is full of small thinkers infected with mediocrity.  Common is a disease.  They want to infect your thinking.

Thinking big is your vaccination from the infection of average.  You were not made to be average.  You are not common.  Stop listening to the people in the cheap seats.  They are common.  They are average.  They are the real zombies.  The zombie apocalypse is the average, common, mediocre people in the world who call you average too.  Avoid them!  Set big goals and work harder than anyone you know.  You need not be the most talented.  You can always be the hardest worker in the room.  Make their criticism and judgment your fuel.  Wake up and stop dozing through life.  You have big inside you.