S.M.A.R.T. Goals Are Dumb

Dream small.
If you've ever been exposed to any goal-setting advice of any kind, you've probably heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals, an acronym which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.  I'd like to add one more adjective: overwhelming.

Who has the time and energy to craft a series of SMART goals and then track progress in great detail? I'm a nerd, but there are only so many excel spreadsheets I can create before I feel ashamed.

Also, what happens if you think you've created a SMART goal, but realize it's not "attainable" or too "timely"?  I know what happens to me: I feel like monkey poo.

SMART goals are also dumb because when they are too "big picture", they cause anxiety.  For example, when I think about some Big Goal, even when it may fit into the SMART paradigm, I get overwhelmed. I get discouraged. I get pessimistic.

What's the solution?  Actually, I think it's a combination of Big, but Vague, goals and small SMART micro-goals that are designed to bring us one step closer to that Big Vague Goal.  This concept of micro-goals is shown to be effective in everything from making tough changes, to procrastination, to extreme physical challenges like training for the Navy Seals.

Why does this work?  Because you can design the micro-goals to be so stupid easy, you are guaranteed to succeed. So, we shouldn't make some huge-ass SMART goal that seems impossible (even if it's not). Instead, we do something so tiny that it seems ridiculously easy (run for 5 minutes).  Then, we do it and feel awesome.  This creates a positive-feedback loop: set more tiny goals, kick ass, repeat.  As long as these tiny, micro-goals are pointed in the general direction of the Big Vague Goal, we're basically guaranteed to come close to our Big Vague Goal over time.

To be fair SMART isn't all bad, setting specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, and timely goals is essentially what I suggest we do: easy goals are all of those things.  But I would add one more essential criteria: small. The smallness takes the overwhelming scale out of the equation. So, SMARTS goal-setting is the way to go for me, but that's an awkward acronym and it's easier to just say SMART goals are dumb.

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