Too Many folks are pushing the idea of SMART Goals. Here we want to emphasize that they are fine for short term goals for employee performance issues. But they are not smart for your creative or your long term visionaries. If you want breakthrough success or excellence, you need something more.
Thomas: Welcome to another episode of Life Unsettled – New Path, Better Future. Today we’re going to follow up on something that we talked a little bit about before, and that is goals. What got me started on this was, as we talked about setting goals and motivating yourself for goals, etc., we have out there hanging out in the wind how to set up your own goals.
A key thing that you hear in a lot of corporations are smart goals. Quite frankly, to me, smart goals are kind of dumb. That is: they’re useful, but they’re really not great goals for you to have. Let’s look at what they are. They are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant or realistic, and time-bound (that means that there’s some set time that you will get them done by.)
Specific and measurable, those are nice things to have, specific, but what are they that are far-reaching? When you say specific, measurable, achievable, they’re really something that you’re sure you can do. No qualifier on it. It’s actually almost like a milestone; it’s not life-changing.
Generally, these are things that you would think of as that you can definitely get this done. For example, they’re small. I can lose 10 pounds by the end of February or the end of March. I can reduce my costs or increase my productivity by a specific amount, say 10%. They’re nice, they’re uplifting, etc., but they’re milestones. They are, in a sense, little things that you would have on a performance chart to say: “Okay, I got these accomplished during this year or these six months.”
What I want to do is talk about, instead, set goals that are life changing. Set goals that you really want to achieve something. For example, some of the things that I’ve done that I couldn’t have put in this kind of term. I could maybe generally. One was learning Japanese. Going back to college, to Hofstra. I wanted to get and do well enough to be able to get into a top school. What that school would be, I had no idea, but I knew that it was a stepping stone, in a sense, a milestone to getting into the best graduate school that I could.
Lo and behold, then I get admitted to Berkeley. With the PhD in mathematical and statistical economics, there was still another goal there actually to get through and complete that. When I went to the research labs at General Motors, I had goals to do certain things, but they were again milestones.
In each of these things that I had as goals, I had specific paths that I didn’t know exactly what the path was, but I had a general path on what I would need to do to get through to that. When I was in Hofstra, what was it? Taking certain courses. It was important to take certain courses, and it was also important to get A’s. What percent of what course, what to do, those things were not as clearly defined as was the length of time it might take. As it turns out, it doesn’t take much.
Going into Berkeley, when I got there, you expect a graduate degree to take four years. Find out that the actual student is actually completing the PhD in 6.4 years, and that in order to really do well, I needed to go over and also take a lot of math and statistical courses, and go through the master’s program and statistics. At least the course where that is.
Goals, in essence, true, life-changing goals are going to be things that you’re going to adjust the path on the way. Think in terms of when they decided they were going to put a man on the moon. They didn’t know exactly what they were going to do or how they were going to get it done. They had to literally invent certain things to complete that goal, that monumental goal. Yes, they said: “We’re going to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.” They actually did, and they weren’t sure they were going to be able to get him there and get him back. We did. Part of that may be attributed to luck, but the idea was that there were a lot of changes.
What do I think are really great goals to have? Things that are—keep in mind your smart goal, I’m going to call milestones, are going to be things that you’ll have along the way in the path, that you’ll adjust over time and that’s okay. They are things that you accomplish.
A true life-changing goal is something that’s out maybe five to seven years. Why do I say five to seven years? Because whatever your state or situation is today, you can change it and make a monumental change in five to seven years.
It should be Gigantic. What is a GOAL? A goal is something that’s Gigantic.
What does the “O” stand for? It’s Outside your known knowledge. Yes, you will need new skills; you’ll have to create things, or do things, or make changes that you may or may not even know about yet. It’s Outside your current known knowledge. Think in terms of well outside your comfort zone (click here for episode 15 on the comfort zone).
It should be Amazing. Amazing to yourself and anybody who might be around you. What that means is it might not and probably will not be acceptable to your current friends and family. Remember the episode on the five friends, (click here for Episode 20) five people closest to you. In order to attain these, you may need to find new people that you can associate with. It doesn’t mean you have to say good-bye to other people, but that might happen.
The “L”, it’s Life-changing, something that really defines something different for you; a new surrounding, new situation.
I had a discussion with somebody yesterday, really, really nice. If you think about it, anybody who is currently still 15, 20, 30 years later with the same friends they had in high school really hasn’t moved on in life in general. There may be exceptions, but very, very few.
The “S” for GOALS is Sustainability. It has to lead to something that is ongoing and that you can keep, and it can be sustained. That is whether the income producing the career, etc.
Let’s sit down, think, or walk along the beach, wherever you are and try to think of some really good, gigantic goals that you have. True goals. Let’s go over again.
They’re gigantic. They’re outside your known knowledge. Yes, you will need new skills, new experiences, etc. They have to amaze yourself. They’re amazing. They’re going to amaze you, as well as your current friends, and you will probably be making new ones. They have to be life-changing, not: “I’m going to get a new car.” That’s not life-changing. That’s nice, but that’s just a step. And they must be sustainable. Gigantic, outside your current knowledge, amazing, life-changing, and sustainable.
In the meantime, when you build up all the links to the path that you might want to take, you may have many smart milestones along the way. Those smart milestones are just steps in order to achieve your life-changing goals.
Thank you very much.