About 8 years ago as of writing this, I was introduced to SMART goals.
They were all the rage with those around me, and because I’d always struggled with the traditional idea of goal setting I thought maybe they would help me.
In actual fact, I was deeply disappointed. I found them even harder to work with than the traditional, ‘set a goal and then work like hell to achieve it’ method.
My biggest problem has always been choosing a precise outcome from the infinite possibilities available to us. I know what I want, but with so many choices, being a free spirit, I don't want to limit myself as to the specifics. And SMART goals didn't seem to take that into consideration...
After much trial and error I have found a method that works perfectly for me, and anyone like me, who rebels against being confined within a rigid format that doesn't allow for astonishing results.
First, just in case you aren't sure what SMART goals are - here's what S.M.A.R.T. stands for - and why I don't like them:
To me this method describes using force and effort to achieve a rigid and narrow vision of what you think you can have in your life. It’s a grey picture of what should be a technicolour vision.
SMART goals are also incredibly structured, restrictive and mind-based… there is no magic, no room for creativity, no room for the "impossible dream" - like inventing a way for humans to fly, or walk on the moon.
The whole process rests on striving for things that YOU THINK you are
able to achieve, operating only from your ‘thinking mind’ using the
limited perspective you currently have.
In other words, there is no room to create something that you don’t even know exists when you set the goal, something infinitely more beautiful, exciting, rewarding, fulfilling and abundant than you ever dreamed of.
I know that I don’t hold a popular view in what I’m saying here.. Most books and articles on the subject of goals say you need to plan step by step how to get there, but in my experience it’s having the vision that is the important part, the ‘how to’ will come as you connect with your vision and take the next step through inspired action.
This may seem strange for someone who is used to traditional goal setting, especially if you’ve spent any time in the corporate world setting targets. But something magical happens if you are clear enough about where you want to end up, whilst leaving the details to unfold.
Brendan Burchard has an interesting take on SMART goals...
To really connect with things that will light you up, you want to get clear on the essence of what you want.
Here's an example from my life.
While I was still doing my best to work with the SMART goal process, I was trying to picture the house I wanted to live in. I couldn’t decide - did I want a house with a view of the ocean or surrounded by trees near the forest, and in the area where I lived, I thought I couldn’t have both.
The truth is I’d have been happy in either environment, but having to choose one over the other felt too confining. And what if I chose the ocean and the perfect house was actually available up near the forest?
Needless to say, neither manifested.
Since then I’ve begun to understand why that was, and once I realised where I was going wrong it was such a relief!
I was focusing on the material outcome as opposed to how I wanted to feel (therefore limiting the possibilities), and I was assuming I couldn't have both the ocean and the forest, because I didn't think that existed where I lived.
So once I realised this, my vision became a house that has beautiful views of nature, lots of natural light and plenty of outdoor space, a big deck, fully fenced for my dog, an open plan interior, main bedroom with en-suite bathrooms and so on.
In essence I wanted the feeling of space and light and being close to nature, as well as the comfort of knowing my dog had what he needs to be happy too.
This way I have captured the details of the house that I am clear on, but I have caught the essence of the location and how I want to feel. Then my house can emerge in some area I hadn’t thought of… or maybe one I don’t even know about.
Once you've done this with your goal, you simply let go until you know what to do next, leaving yourself open to inspired action and the easiest, fastest and most fun way to realise your vision. This is not to say that you do nothing, but it's more fluid, more in the moment and usually a lot more intuitive.
Setting SMART goals has the energy of struggle and force, which means you are only focusing on how it should all come about, trying to control it all. You're unlikely to enjoy the journey much, and when you realise that most of your time is spent in the journey... it means you're not enjoying a large part of your life.
SMART goals do have their place. They work well for mundane goals that corporations may set around how to achieve growth year on year, perhaps.
Situations where there is a complex but quantifiable outcome required and a large team of people working towards achieving it. In such cases it serves the company to have a more structured plan, so that everyone knows what small part they have to play within the whole.
But when it comes to personal goals, SMART goals are too confining and take all the juice out of what should be an exciting, joyful part of life, an exploration into what’s possible in a limitless universe.
You can now download the first part of my brand new course The Free Spirit's Way absolutely free. It's all about reconnecting within and allowing the flow of the Universal energy to guide you to the life you were meant to live: