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When SMART Goals Are Not Always Wise

Many of us have been taught about setting goals through the use of the SMART acronym.  The theory is that in order to be successful in our pursuits, our goals must be:






However, for most people, this goal setting template is rigid and uninspiring.  It puts the concept of planning and achievement in a linear framework that appeals only to the rational side of our brains.  Goals become a list of “shoulds” that require you to be disciplined and methodical in order to reach your objectives. 

As an alternative, substitute words for the SMART acronym that speak to you on an emotional level.  Using a more inspiring framework will engage and motivate, and result in a goal setting process that is more successful and satisfying.  Here is an example:






SignificantGoals that resonate with what is most important to you will keep you motivated and bring joy to your journey as you make progress in reaching your objectives. 

MeaningfulOftentimes individuals set goals based on what others—parents, employers, teachers, society—view as important.  However, to be truly inspiring and satisfying, your goals must align with your own values and priorities.  Only then will your goals be “full of meaning” on a personal level.

AttractingOnly when your goals are both significant and personally meaningful, will they create a positive image that engages and inspires action.  You won’t have to rely on pure grit and determination to achieve your goals, but rather a clear vision of what you want will focus your intention and guide your decisions on a day to day basis. 

RewardingSometimes people don’t make progress because, consciously or subconsciously, they are still weighing the costs and benefits of making a commitment to reaching their goals.  An honest appraisal and conversation about this inner conflict can bring clarity, and resolve incompatible feelings.  In a nutshell, you are more likely to move toward goals that bring you a clear sense of reward along the journey as well as in reaching the destination. 

TimelyDo you actually have the time required to commit to a specific goal?  Before embarking on this journey, encourage yourself to consider if the timing is right? Likewise, it is important to realize that some goals should have specific target dates and others should not. 

By imposing deadlines prematurely, you can create stress that stifles your ability to overcome obstacles in creative ways.  In addition, deadlines tend to cause individuals to set goals that are within their current reality.  More open-ended goals will encourage you to “dream big”—to stretch your imaginations and indulge in possibility thinking. 

- By: Carol Anderson, Money Quotient