Smart? 150 150 Ben Coker


I’m constantly meeting people who are very ‘mixed up’ about what they’re supposed to be doing.

From their point of view, to achieve the things that they want.

You see, they have a few things ‘mixed up’.

They’re motivated but not inspired.

They have too many goals, some of which are in conflict with each other, or their mindset.

None of it seems to ‘add up’.

In other words, although they ‘carry on regardless’ doing the things they think they need to do, they never ‘get anywhere’.

They never seem to achieve what they want to achieve, and when they do it always seems that it’s happened ‘by default’.

In one of my earlier insights I talked about goals, targets and plans, and I said that your goals are elements that make up your higher vision or ‘dream’.

You can of course have more than one dream or vision but none of these can be achieved without fist reaching at least one goal, usually a set of goals.

What are the things you need to have in place before your vision can be achieved?

(And you can look at this in a personal or business sense.)

These ‘steps on the way’ are your goals.

The thing is . . .

They don’t have to be, and indeed they should not be, ‘smart’

Unless of course, your vison is ‘specific, measurable, achievable, reasonable and timely’ – but if it were then it wouldn’t be a dream or vision!

Because dreams and visions are not ‘reasonable’, not ‘achievable’ in the sense that you know how to achieve them, and not necessarily measurable in terms of time or money, and far from rigid in terms of timeliness or specificity.

To whoever thought up this idea of setting smart goals it probably seemed like a good idea at the time, a good ‘discipline’ or ‘tool’ to get people, particularly in a business environment, setting goals.

But in my extensive experience these so-called ‘smart’ goals are very rarely achieved.

Sometime people miss the goal and go further, do better, or get there quicker, sometimes the opposite.

The best use for ‘smart goals’ if you must set them is really as guidelines, although there may be one or perhaps two items within the measurability that have a fixed target date or budget – but quite often what you gain on one you lose on the other.

How do you and I set goals then?

Start with the end result – what is it that we want, what is the dream, the vision?

Does it matter when it happens? Does it matter how much it costs? Does it matter how it is achieved?

Oh, and by the way, here’s something to consider: If we knew exactly how to achieve our vision, and we had the resources, then, if we haven’t achieved it already it isn’t a dream or vision – we’re not committed to it and we’ll never do it.

Next, to achieve the vision, think about the steps on the way, what has to be achieved first before it can all come about?

You may have come across this idea before – basic project planning!

But this time again consider again if the timescale or the finances actually matter in the overall scheme of things leading up to achieving your dream.

Don’t restrict the goals you set by making them too ‘smart’! You can be too smart for your own good!

These goals need testing:

Are they consistent with one another, are they ‘in order’ and importantly, do they fit your mindset?

Are you ‘comfortable with each goal? If not, you may need to adjust the way you think about it or break the goal down further.

One quick point – a goal doesn’t have a set budget or timescale; these elements are targets.

Having a certain amount of money is not a goal, it’s the money that facilitates the goal.

Getting to a certain level in an organisation is not a goal, just a means to an end.

Winning an Olympic medal or World Championship is not a goal – it’s a vision or dream.

Now, most of the time, you and I are ‘motivated’ people, but sometimes, sometimes, we lack inspiration.

We know what we want to do, be, have and give – we’re ‘motivated’ to achieve our dreams. But we do have ‘off days’, when the inspiration drops and we ‘don’t feel like doing much’.

There are many ways of minimizing this but the key thing that you and I need to remember is that motivation comes from the inside and inspiration from the outside.

There’s no such thing as a ‘motivational speaker’ – no-one can ‘motivate’ anyone else, but they can inspire them.

But we don’t have to listen to a speaker or go to an ‘event’ to top up our inspiration, it can come from anywhere; being in the country or by the sea, looking at great art or architecture, listening to music, watching plays, movies or even (sometimes) TV!

You and I can boost our inspiration in many ways and it’s vital that we do so.

Inspiration is the fuel that allows us to take the actions to achieve the targets to achieve our goals and fulfil our vision.

Are you inspired? You know what to do.