New goal setting, going beyond S.M.A.R.T.

SMART objectives have been around the block for some decades now, they are in all business manuals, project management trainings, any training for that matter where you need to accomplish something. Pretty much since 1981 everything started with SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based goals).

They were catchy, simple to understand, remember and use and they just seemed … smart and became the ABC of planning.

  • Specific (Goals must be clear and unambiguous)
  • Measurable (Results must be able to be measured in some way, for example, the number of products sold each week, or the percent completion)
  • Attainable (Goals must be realistic and attainable by the average employee)
  • Relevant (Goals must relate to your organization’s vision and mission)
  • Time-bound (Goals must have definite starting and ending points, and a fixed duration)

The first step beyond SMART goals was for, of course, SMARTER goals. The last E and R stand for evaluate and review.

This was indeed a great add on, as the world started to understand that, for learning to happen, we need to evaluate and draw conclusions and that objectives are dynamic, not fixed, static, and thus objectives need evaluation and review, when necessary.

Later, SMARTEST goals came in:

  • Educational (What will you learn working toward this goal?)
  • Significant (Why do you care about this goal?)
  • Toward (Does the goal describe something you want? Don’t make goals about something you want to avoid!)

Although they are still used at large scale around the world, new acronyms started appearing – HARD, CLEAR … I wonder if the trend is to invent your own acronym? I’m kidding right now, because although I do appreciate the new insights, I believe that a common language is useful.

This being said, here are other goal setting strategies:

CLEAR Goals by Adam Kreek

  • Collaborative (Goals should encourage employees to work together collaboratively and in teams)
  • Limited (Goals should be limited in both scope and duration)
  • Emotional (Goals should make an emotional connection to employees, tapping into their energy and passion)
  • Appreciable (Large goals should be broken down into smaller goals so they can be accomplished more quickly and easily for long-term gain)
  • Refinable (Set goals with a headstrong and steadfast objective, but as new situations or information arise, give yourself permission to refine and modify your goals)

HARD Goals

  • HEARTFELT Looking at why you care about your goal allows team members to build an emotional attachment to it. This step helps identify what motivates you and your team and then to explain your goal in those terms.
  • ANIMATED This step involves visualizing what it will look like if you achieve your goal. Team members use imagination to help create a picture of the desired results. Teams are encouraged to incorporate size, color, shape, setting, background, lighting, emotion, and movement in their vision.
  • REQUIRED Defining why your goal is necessary now is an important step in process, helping to create a sense of urgency through a clearly stated case.
  • DIFFICULT The goal should require you and your team to use all talents and then some. The goal should push team members to learn something new. Goals should be challenging but not impossible.

What they all have in common is the daring, the audacity, the push to think unreasonable, the emotional involvement and the accent on what moves you.

The problem with SMART goals is one of human nature: “it is so satisfying to complete goals that people will write down trivial goals that are easily accomplished.” People become obsessed with achievable but inconsequential goals, and focus on unimportant short-term objectives rather than more ambitious plans. Moreover, SMART goals are limited by our current state and situation and don’t support vision, ideals, ambition, aspiration.

My new way is the HARD way, because I believe in going outside my comfort zone and I believe that if I don’t do something that makes me get out of bed in the morning, it is not worth while.

How do you set your goals nowadays?