A Short Rant on Goals

Goal-setting is a popular topic on social media, in books, and around the virtual and physical watercoolers of the world. It’s akin to Monday morning quarterbacking and critiquing the latest film and how you would make it better than the seasoned professional. In other words, it’s easy to talk about, much more challenging to do for yourself and your team.

Most people evangelize the gospel of S.M.A.R.T. goals. If you haven’t heard of them, S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic (or Relevant), and Timely. Sounds great; a perfect and memorable framework for goal-setting.

I’ve also heard of S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals. I can’t remember what the last two letters are—maybe energy and risk—but all I know is that the E and the R will undoubtedly make your goals “smarter.”

Snarky, I know.

Is there a way to rethink S.M.A.R.T. goals? Perhaps there is. Welcome to my new goal-setting framework. Building upon S.M.A.R.T., I’m adding three additional elements.

First, Awe-inspiring. If a goal isn’t awe-inspiring, why are you doing it? How many goals have you honestly set out of context with what you want to accomplish? By connecting what you want to do to something bigger than yourself, something humbling, something awe-inspiring, you can assess whether the goal is worth the time.

Second, Soul-driven. Intrinsic motivations drive many people—the satisfaction of a job well done, growth, learning—and others find momentum in external validators such as success and money. What if the expression of the deepest parts of yourself drives your goals instead? However, it doesn’t stop at your soul because it could also be the soul of your organization, community, and collective.

Third, and finally, sufficient. Sufficiency is my favorite because it implies a limit to the goal. Humility? Perhaps, but it’s a sense that I am enough and the goal is enough for this moment. With sufficiency as the final element of the framework, we can make sure that what we pursue does not overtake us. That we can rest and we can live.

Welcome to the S.M.A.R.T.A.S.S. framework of goal-setting.