Why I’m Ditching SMART Goals For START Goals – Part 1

By Robert Kennedy III

Here we are, a quarter of the way through the year and the din has died down.  No one is obsessing about goals and resolutions anymore and everyone has settled in.  Except, everyone hasn’t really.  The goals are still there, accomplished or not.  They haven’t moved out and occupied new space.  They’re there and in many cases, they are STARING us right in the face.  You may walk by the goal every day, or just sit on the couch and look at it.  But, they’re there.  So, then why haven’t we done anything about them?

I have definitely been known to be one of those who touted a bad strategy as the reason for non-achievement.  And, truth is, I really haven’t strayed from that a whole lot.  But, I began to have some misgivings about one of the strategies that I talked about.  That strategy was taking on SMART goals.  If you’re not clear on SMART goals, the acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely or Timebound.

I am fine with the goal being Specific.  The more specific and clear you can be, the easier it is to see what you are looking to accomplish and know exactly when you have accomplished it.  A goal of creating 2 million dollars is always going to be more clear than just simply setting a goal of becoming richer.

I am even fine with the goal being Measurable.  Breaking it up into chunks, possibly estimating how long it might take you to accomplish it or the frequency of execution is helpful.  I’ve even created several tools myself to help keep track of goals and transformations.  (Download one of them here)

Here is where it begins to get murky.  Why exactly does this goal have to be attainable?  I’m not sure, but it seems the inventor of SMART goals put this in there to temper expectations a bit.  For instance, you might not really be able to stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon and have the goal of jumping across to the other side.  I get that.  But, I began to ask the questions, like:

“If I THINK that it is attainable, where does the faith or the dreaming come in?”

“Shouldn’t there be a little bit of impossible in this or shouldn’t I at least have the right to attempt impossible?”

“Why do I have to make sure that I can attain it?  Isn’t part of the purpose of goal-setting to stretch me a bit?”

Then, after the Attainable, I got BOMBED with the word Realistic.  Of course, that brings back bad memories of people telling you to be realistic.  I’m almost POSITIVE that Einstein, Ford, Edison, Jobs, Gates and a host of other innovators heard that they were not being realistic.  But then, innovation is not based on realistic.  Dreams are not based on realistic.  Success is not based on realistic.  And in the midst of all of this, who gets to determine ‘realistic?’

So, now, where am I?  Are SMART goals for me or is that just a sneaky way to tell me to temper my expectations, play it safe?  I’ve already noted in previous posts that I’m a dreamer and I love dreams.  I’m creative and I love new ideas.  I get excited by innovation and barrier breaking.  That’s why SMART goals no longer work for me, mentally, emotionally, intellectually, personally.

I’m ditching SMART goals for START goals.  On its face, the START acronym simply refers to do it NOW, getting moving.  And in truth, that’s at the very heart of it.  But, I also want to reveal some goal setting ideas that more closely jive with who I am….ideas that will shift the intensity and magnitude of the goals that you choose.

Stay tuned for more on START goals in the next post.

How do you set goals?  What do you think about SMART goals? Leave your response in the comments.