The Mediocrity of SMART Goals

“I’ve got to give my boss some SMART goals for my team this year. I figure I’ll do something similar to last year’s goals and since my goal attainment is tied to my boss’s annual performance report, I’ll make sure that all of my goals are achievable.” – Overheard at a high-level safety conference

SMART goals. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound)

It’s the “A” that bothers me the most. “Attainable”

It’s the lie that annual goals foist on the organization.  It takes the wind out of sails and makes others pull down their sails “just in case.” It limits vectors and reinforces comfort zones. Attainability is average, status quo, and simply mediocre.

Turning away from SMART, authors like Jim Collins introduced the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). In the more genteel companies, “hairy” is removed, reducing the acronym to BAG.

Whatever the acronym…how do we break from attainable? How do we begin to think a bit (or a lot) bigger than “I’ll do something similar to last year”?

Here are a few resources that help me. Two books (short but with big ideas) and a podcast.

The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure – Grant Cardone writes about replacing the idea of 10% increases with multiplying everything by 10.

The Compound Effect – A short book that took me two weeks to get through because of all the questions it asks the reader to answer. You’ll learn a ton about yourself and eschew “average” forever.

Testing the Impossible: 17 Questions that Changed My Life (Tim Ferris Podcast) – I listen to this episode at least every 3 months and it always inspires new ideas.

Like SMART goals? Then make the “A” stand for something else, like Awesome, Audacious, Atomic, or even Astonishing!

Do you use SMART goals and why?

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