The better you are at setting goals, the more likely you are at achieving them. However setting goals isn’t enough. You have to be actually be able to execute on the goals that you set and keep your timelines in check in order for you to build momentum in a positive way towards actually achieving them.
Conventional wisdom says that SMART goals are the best way to do business planning and goal setting. The framework for SMART goals is very sensible, the goal must be
- Specific - What do you want to achieve?
- Measurable - How are you going to measure the progress? Can you set a concrete number to benchmark against?
- Attainable - Is this goal achievable in your time frame?
- Realistic/Relevant - Is this goal relevant to the business and realistic?
- Time Bound - When will you expect to have achieve this goal?
As a marketer, an example of a SMART goal could be;
Increase visitors to our blog by 50% by the end of June, by doubling the frequency of blog posts from 2 posts per week to 4 posts per week and increasing the word count to a minimum of 1,200 words.
I’ve spent many an afternoon crafting some perfectly sensible and logical SMART goals, and feeling very smug and accomplished after completing them. But then, the “doing work” of running my business takes over and the goals are relegated to a dusty corner of my Google Drive only to be revisited months later, when the results I was planning for didn’t eventuate.
SMART Goals Are Broken
So, the thing that I’ve found with the SMART goal framework is that it’s lacking the fundamental execution framework for actually achieving that very SMART goal that you so carefully crafted.
SMART goals also fail to consider the stage of business that you are in and whether that goal you’re planning is the right thing to be doing at that stage. As a business owner, there is so much “shiny and new” that you could be doing, that it’s very hard to remain focused on the right goal to achieve the right results in your business. You may be working on partner programs and scaling, when you really don’t have a consistent revenue or sales pipeline in place. Clearly then the goal you are reaching for is not the right thing for your business. So what should you do and when?
What is the Right Thing for Right Now?
Forget your 5 year plan, your 10 year plan, and all the other big picture plans. There’s psychological safety in a vague future goal, but that’s not what you’re after. It’s easy to get so caught up in what you’ll do in the FUTURE that you end up neglecting what needs to be done RIGHT NOW? Sure, it’s important to think ahead – to have a vision and follow through on it. But unless you bring it back to what you need to do RIGHT NOW, and then in the NEXT right now after that (and so on) in order to propel yourself into that future vision, you’ll have a hard time getting there.
SMART Goals Are Stuck in the 80s
So, if you’re still using SMART Goals for your planning process then you’re almost certainly setting yourself up for failure. While it was a great 80s framework from George T. Doran, for creating criteria for goal setting. They don’t provide an actionable execution framework, or the flexibility that current businesses need.
Not much from the 80s has survived. Thankfully… except perhaps for The Breakfast Club.. I so wanted to be Molly Ringwald.. but that’s a whole other story.
So isn’t it time S.M.A.R.T. goals were retired? Just like we’ve retired shoulder pads, parachute pants and a Flock of Seagulls.. There’s a better way to not just set, but achieve goals.
Download: The Peak Performance Business Planner: How To Consistently Get Maximum Return On All Your Efforts and join Todd Herman’s live training on how to align your activities to make hitting your goals inevitable.