I’m SOOOO excited to talk about goals with you today BECAUSE I usually avoid talking about them. As someone who has studied goal setting pretty extensively, I get frustrated and ranty listening to how some people teach goal setting.
But I love goals and I think I’ve gotten to the point in my own personal growth that I can add some serious value to this conversation without being judgy, snarky, or ranty – or too academic.
I will also admit that I work with A LOT of people who are let’s say – goal-challenged. They have a lot of “ish” when it comes to setting goals. In the past, I have sidestepped and baby stepped and given alternate ways to set goals, but really what’s needed is an honest conversation and a way for you to think about this differently.
In this episode we are going to cover:
- Why you shouldn’t set SMART goals
- The benefits of having BIG goals
- Why big, hairy, audacious, goals (BHAGS) might not work for you
And if you are a person who has struggled with setting goals, I’m giving you a new framework for you to dig into.
Some of what I’m presenting to you here today like the new framework has come from the book Performance Coaching: A complete guide to best practice coaching and training by Carol Wilson.
Let’s start with the problem with SMART goals.
We all know this model. SMART stands for:
Specific, Measurable, Agreed/Achievable, Realistic/Relevant, Time-framed
Simply put – you’re not the right audience. The SMART goal framework wasn’t designed for YOU.
The SMART framework was designed for managers to use with employees in an organization. Meaning this is a goal set by someone else and given to you with no agency over the goal itself. That’s why they were designed to be achievable and realistic. That was a cue to remind managers to be realistic about the goals they are setting to ensure that they are achievable. If a manager sets a goal too unrealistic it becomes demotivating for an employee.
Since you’re not an employee and even if you were, I recommend that all humans have agency over their goals.
So, if you are a business owner with a team of employees, please consider giving your team agency over their goals.
So, if you would kindly do me a favor – toss out the SMART goal framework and instead opt to use a different model called The EXACT Model.
As a reminder, this is not our model. This model was created by Carol Wilson.
EXACT stands for:
Explicit – clear concise, singular in focus
Xciting – positively framed and inspiring
Assessable – measurable
Challenging – it stretches you. I often say a goal is less about the actual goal and more about who you become along the way.
Time-framed – you have a timeframe between 3-6 months
You can see the two big changes are that the goal should be exciting or inspiring and challenging. This should be something that stretches or changes you along the way.
When we look at goals this way, it’s clear from the outset that this isn’t going to be a comfortable experience but it’s also intended to INSPIRE you to act.
Many of the achievers I work with get tripped up with goal setting, and some get taken out before they even begin. As soon as they set the goal, fear starts popping up…
- What if I never reach my potential
- What if I fall flat on my face and embarrass myself
- What if I miss the goal and I’m disappointed
What if NONE of that is the actual point?!
What if the purpose of having a goal was to inspire yourself and others.
To grow and develop a skill.
To become who you were meant to become.
What if setting goals and all you learn along the way to achieving them is the accelerant for you realizing that vision you have for yourself and your life?
Goals are not as purposeful or impactful if they aren’t tied into your vision.
I believe we hold our vision firmly and our goals loosely.
I also believe that you don’t have to personally set goals if you don’t want to, or maybe something is happening in your life that doesn’t allow for goal setting like new motherhood, or a life crisis. But your business 100% needs to have goals.
Goals are an accelerant.
For 10 years, I wanted to leave my corporate job. I had a vision of me owning my own business. But I never really set clear goals on a personal level to achieve that. I had other things going on in my life at that time.
And then in March of 2015, I set a goal to leave my corporate job by March 2016. And my last day of work was August 22, 2015. Less than a year after setting the goal.
Goals accelerate the vision.
So much so that I write my goals every day. I write them down on paper. Every day.
There have been stretches of time where I didn’t feel like doing that. My focus was less discerning. And guess what…
It took longer to hit those goals.
If your goals were EXCITING, INSPIRING, and CHALLENGING, wouldn’t you be more motivated to get after them?
Here is a caveat to BIG, inspiring, challenging goals…
It has to do with the zones of learning….
You have the comfort zone – this is where SMART goals are designed to keep you. In your comfort zone.
Then you have the learning zone – this is where you want those EXACT goals to fall.
BUT you have to make sure when setting goals that inspire and challenge you that you don’t tip into the third zone known as the panic zone.
I remember in 2014 when I first started my business and everyone was banging on about $100,000 and $10K months. I set my eyes on that $10K month and wanted it so badly. It took me about 8 months to get there and what I learned along the way is that I needed to baby step my way there.
I needed to be the person who made $2K per month before I could make $4K per month before I could make $8K, and so on.
I just didn’t have the self-belief that I could achieve something like $10K months because I had never done it before. SO, for me, I had to collect evidence of it being possible along the way. I had to breathe and recalibrate my nervous system to receive this kind of money.
So, find a goal that challenges you to develop new beliefs about yourself but not so challenging it throws you into panic and shuts you down.
I know you might be wondering how you find that threshold. The one where you are deep in your learning zone but not in your panic zone.
You have to experiment. Try on your goals like you would try on clothes. That’s why I’m always engaged in planning activities. Not because I’m obsessed with planning but because I’m giving myself the space to experiment and explore what goals feel good to me and what goals don’t.
It takes intuition to find your edge.
Thanks for taking the time to listen today. I hope this has been helpful. Please know I believe that small business owners have the power to change the world. Take good care.