Why SMART Goals Don't Work For Free Spirits 

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.

Keep Your Goals Secret

Words Create Your World

Law Of Attraction

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:

Specific – Exact, detailed, precise, definite. 

Being precise about how the outcome should look, which can only be based on what you currently know.

Measurable – Planning all the steps beforehand and having specific outcomes along the way so you can measure whether you’ve achieved your goal or not.

This doesn't allow for spontaneous and inspired action, which often bubbles up when moving into new territory, which achieving new goals requires.  It also says 'the journey should look like THIS.  If it doesn't, I'm failing'.

Attainable - Deciding beforehand whether you have the resources to achieve it. 

This is coming from such a limited perspective – you’re not leaving any room for the magic of creation to bring you solutions and ideas you hadn’t thought of or that you're not currently aware of, but that will appear as you take the next step.

Realistic – Being level-headed and reasonable in your expectations. 

In other words - only aiming for what you think you are capable of achieving in your current and often limited viewpoint - what happened to shooting for the moon?

Timely – setting a time frame within which they must be achieved.

Forcing a result within a specific period. My experience is that goals will manifest in the perfect time – often far quicker than you can possibly believe.  But if they take longer, it’s often because there are things you need to put in place along the way... not because you failed!

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.

Going Against The Grain...

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...

What To Do Instead...

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 Have Their Place...

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:

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