If you google goal setting you’ll find thousands of results about S.M.A.R.T. goals. This is a widely used and great method, often used also in corporate environment. However, it is misses a couple of aspects of goal setting. Here are my problems with SMART goals.

Before jumping into the topic, let’s see quickly what is this abbreviation and what are the advantages of it.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

The abbreviation S.M.A.R.T. refers to the following:

It can help you to express your goals in a way that it will be easier to follow them up. Often we don’t specify enough what we really want and that’s why it is hard to reach. If you can create SMART goals for yourself, it will have many advantages such as your goals will be clear to you, you can measure easily your progress etc.

It is so much clearer to say “I would like to go to the near gym 3 times in a week by next April” instead of saying “I want to be more sporty.” As you can see, I am not against S.M.A.R.T. goals, this is a very effective methods. If you ask your team members to set up smart goals for themselves, it will be easier for you to follow them up.

The Missing Ingredients

There are many cases in life when S.M.A.R.T. goals are not good enough. What I miss from it is what makes us human. Where are your values and emotions in S.M.A.R.T. goals? Okay, they should be relevant to you. But do you make sure to align your goals with your values and what really matter to you? Do you dig into deeper when you don’t have a positive attitude towards reaching your goals? Do you make sure to consider your emotions about your smartly chosen goals?

Well, if you just follow the abbreviation you may skip these important steps.

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Finding the Right Goals for You

It is not always an easy task to find the right goals for ourselves. Sometimes it requires as hard work as actually reaching them. Self-awareness is definitely a key factor of it. We need to make sure to choose a path what we really care about instead of choosing the preferences of our families, friends, colleagues or society.

Like my friend, whose family wanted her to get married and start a family in her 20s, but she hasn’t find the right partner for it. It put a lot of pressure into her relationships and she struggled to make her family understand her point of view. It was also difficult for her to accept that she didn’t reach her (?) goal when she became 30.

For many people these things are easy things to do, other struggle with them or never be able to do them. Just think on your friends. Do they all follow their passions or do they follow what is important to their families? And what about you?

Next time you do goal setting, make sure to think about the following questions.

1 What do you feel when you think on your goals? What does your gut feeling tell?

We try to rationalize our decisions often, but considering our emotions when we choose our goals is a really valid point. It does not necessary mean that you always need to follow your heart, but acknowledging your emotions can help you to understand yourself better and make better decisions. When I chose my goals based on external expectations, I always had the feeling “I should do this or that”. I felt worried and pressured. When I chose my goals based on my own expectations towards myself, I felt excitement, energy and sometimes also worried, because I didn’t know how to start.

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2 What are your values, beliefs and desires? Are your goal aligned to them?

The first step of answering this question is get to know yourself better and to make sure and your values, beliefs and desires are clear to you. It could last for weeks, months or even years for some people to clarify these questions. It might help you to ask for professional help if you struggle with this question. Once you know them well, it won’t be so difficult to see if your goals are aligned to them.

3 If anything would be possible, what goal would you choose?

Just try to imagine that you are in a fairy tale. The Blue Fairy comes to you and asks you what you want. What would you answer? Is it related at all to the goal you chose? It is not a problem, if not. Personally I would definitely like to talk again to my grandparents. It does not have a direct connection to my professional goals. However, my answer reflects on my values, relationships are important to me.

There aren’t any right or wrong answers to these questions. Just simply implement these into your goal setting sessions and see where they lead you. If you don’t have the answers yet, don’t worry. I don’t believe pushing goal setting is effective. Sometimes we don’t know what we want and that is totally find. If you want to implement your goals into your daily/weekly agenda, read my article about How to plan your agenda in 4 steps. Or contact me for further support.  

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