Why SMART Goals Fail
Updated: Jan 16, 2019
The truth about SMART Goals
"SMART Goals! SMART goals! Make sure you establish SMART goals," is a well-worn business trope. It is akin to level 101 business advice, and it's been communicated ad-nauseam for the past thirty years.
S.M.A.R.T. is the cleverly catchy acronym that extols the virtues of goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. You may be familiar with subtle variations to the acronym; realistic, results-based, achievable, agreed upon, and timely are all popular variants. However, the sad reality is that no matter which version you agree is best, SMART goals (in and of themselves) will have very little impact on the success or failure of your business.
How can I say such a thing? It's simple...I observe reality.
No matter how SMART we make our goals, many of us fail to achieve them.
I'm here to tell you that SMART goals, however relevant, can be a meaningless waste of time. That's because they're only the first piece of the puzzle.
Too many organizations spend countless workshop hours creating SMART goals and neglect to create either a strategy or a plan to make their SMART goals a reality.
How to make SMART Goals work for you
1. The first step to making SMART goals work for you is to identify the BIG THING you want to accomplish and then to define "why" you think it's important. For example, you may say you want to sell 20% more of a particular product in the coming year. However, if you give no context to why that would be important, neither you nor your team will accomplish it.
If you sell 20% more product, will you give yourself another day of vacation? Will you be able to send your team to a training course in an "exotic" location? Make the "why" real enough to visualize and relevant to all parties.
2. Step two after defining your BIG THING is to develop a strategy and a plan to accomplish your goal. Don't just write the goal down on a post-it note: making the goal is not enough. Give your goal a functioning skeleton by creating 3-5 strategies that you believe will help you accomplish the goal.
3. Step 3, identify the first steps you will take and assign a due date to each one. The reason we don't accomplish all our goals is that in many instances...we never get started.
Our biggest obstacle to getting started is typically fear. A goal can seem too big...too overwhelming. Working toward an achievable first step will break the ice and create valuable momentum on the path to success. In our next blog, Have you already abandoned your 2019 goals?, you will discover why and how you should stay focused.