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Why SMART Goals Aren’t Smart Enough

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SMART GoalsAre SMART Goals Holding You Back?

Have you ever heard of SMART goals?  I’m not the hugest fan of SMART goals.  I don’t feel like they do enough to challenge you and many people fall back on them as an acceptable way of measuring your goals.   There are different variations of what SMART stands for but basically it goes like this with some variation depending on the source.



A-Agreed Upon


T-Time Based

How SMART Goals Work

An example of a smart goal would be that you want to pay off your debt of $5000 in 12 months by putting $416.67 per month (+interest) until your balance is zero.  This covers of S,M, A and T however the R depends on your circumstances.  Do you have an extra $400+ a month that you can put towards your debt every month?  If so, then it is realistic and you are covered.  If not, then you will not meet the criteria of a SMART goal.

To meet the criteria and make it a SMART goal then they would say to you, “just change the timeline to 18 months and then it is less money per month and your goal is realistic”.  18 months would bring the payment down to $277.78 per month (+interest).  Maybe $275+ is easier to get each month vs $420+.  Then with this realistic goal in hand you can get moving to achieve your goals with all of the success in the world.


Maybe not.    

The opportunity in focusing only on SMART goals is that you might not be giving yourself a challenge.  I don’t want you to burn yourself out.  But if we only did what we know we can do we leave the knowledge on the table of what we are capable of.  Maybe you can pay off your debt in 12 months if you cut back some other expenses, found extra money or found another way.

I want to be clear that this is a “pull your bootstraps up” type of concept.  If you really can’t do it, then you can’t do it.  Don’t try to make bogus math work to feel better about something that you cannot do.   There is no shame working on what you can.  But don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.  Maybe 12 months is too much but you could do 14 months.  Try to push yourself a little harder each time you accomplish something. When you look back at what you accomplished you likely won’t recognize where you started because it’s just your way of life now.

We’ll Figure It Out

The motto in our house is “we’ll figure it out.”  This is true with the baby, the money, how to grow a garden, how to sell something in to our customers or clients in our jobs, how to run a business etc.  The list goes on.  We are natural problem solvers and to us this works.  Sometimes it pisses people off that we say we will figure it out.  It sounds like we don’t have a plan.  Often times in the beginning we don’t have a plan.  But we research, learn and understand what we need to do and then we do it.

You don’t have to be as ridiculous as us; in fact I would not encourage it.  The next time you have a goal that you want to accomplish and you want to make it a SMART goal, do it.  But stretch yourself a little bit beyond what you know you are capable of.  This way you will have a new understanding of what you are capable of and then you will always continue to develop and grow.

Do you follow a SMART goal format? When was the last time you pushed yourself to do more?


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