Is S.M.A.R.T. Really Smart?








What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.
Henry David Thoreau


Well it’s that time of year again. Yes, it’s time for the New Year’s resolutions and the annual goal setting exercise here at work.  The first is no easier than the second, but I am usually better at the second probably because they are S.M.A.R.T. In any case I do both with all of the best intentions. When I read this post today titled, “Consider Not Setting Goals in 2013,”  I was all in!

I found it interesting to read about some of the side effects of having goals. It seems that there has been a working paper created, Goals Gone Wild , by some folks at the Harvard Business School. With that prestigious school behind it who could argue with the side effects they list that include a “reduced intrinsic motivation. “   I certainly can attest to that, because every year I set a goal to lose weight, eat healthier, and exercise more only to find that I have packed on another ten pounds, ordered pizza on yet another Friday night, and slept in all week-end instead of taking my vowed 4 mile walk. It’s got to be the goals that did it. Who knew?

Why they even list some very dangerous repercussions of poorly focused goals (read the article you’ll see). Unfortunately I can list a couple of these myself, which goal wins, release dates? Or quality? Or customer satisfaction with features? Just like we all have been cautioned by our parents along the way to “be careful what you wish for” we should also add to that “be careful what those S.M.A.R.T. goals bring with them.”

Like the author, I wondered how we would get anything accomplished without clear goals, but unlike the author I don’t think that just concentrating on an “area of focus” takes the place of clearly aligned goals.  What we have moved toward around here is a goal setting template that includes a column to list the performance outcome. This more clearly defines what the expected impact of the goal will be and is a part of the measurement criteria. I think that this along with understanding that meeting my S.M.A.R.T. goals is not the complete scope of my job helps to balance the cause/effect dichotomy illustrated in the study.

With that in mind, I will still be creating my New Year’s resolutions and documenting my S.M.A.R.T. goals for 2013, but I will be more aware of their potential to have negative repercussions. Yes, I know you are going to ask if I am still going to have the weight, eat, exercise resolutions and the answer will be affirmative. However, these resolutions will go a bit differently I will eat healthier because it will make me feel better and if I feel better I will want to exercise more often and if I exercise more often I will lose weight and if I lose weight my Estrogen storage will decrease and I will lower my risk of recurrence of breast cancer. So how’s that for something to get me motivated? I’ll let you know at the end of 2013 how it has worked for me.

As for my professional goals, they are still a work in progress, but you can be sure that they will be S.M.A.R.T. and focused on positive results.

Care to share your main goal for 2013?


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