In my last blog, I said I might be done with health. And now I have another confession to make. I don’t like “S.M.A.R.T. goals” very much either.
It’s not that setting goals and making them specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound isn’t a good idea. Sure it is… to an extent. There’s just something too “science-y” about them… something too cold and impersonal when it comes to real life.
Being a wellness coach, I have listened to numerous people confide in me about real life – their concerns, fears, struggles, strengths, and hopes for the future, what they envision life to be like when they’re feeling and performing their best. And, let me tell you, nagging them about “S.M.A.R.T. goals” after they’ve poured their heart out to me is about as fitting as those jeans I accidentally left in the dryer this morning. Ugh!
I have good news, though. I have found a more meaningful way to accomplish the same thing. Instead of drilling people about S.M.A.R.T. goals, I simply ask this question, “What one or two things would you like to start doing from now on?”
And then, I encourage and help them frame their answers into lasting goals, using a simple Start-Doing-What-When structure, like this:
- I will start walking on my afternoon breaks.
- I will start packing my lunch for work.
- I will start getting up at 6am for quiet time.
- I will start exercising a couple days a week.
I’ve found lasting goals framed this way seem to be more personal and meaningful than the typical “I will walk 15 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 3:15 pm.” Such regimented, detailed goals might work okay for some people, but they have a tendency to annoy, overwhelm, and paralyze a lot of others into doing none of their so-called S.M.A.R.T. goals at all. Sometimes when there is too much detail involved, people lose focus of their real mission.
Finally, there’s one more thing I inquire about before closing our conversation. I ask, “Are you 80% confident that you can achieve 80% of your goal?”
This 80/80 Mindset, as I call it, is that sweet spot between having just enough challenge without the pressure to be perfect. I find it to be super helpful for people trying to make changes in their life.
So the next time you’re talking with someone – a patient, friend, spouse, co-worker, sibling, daughter, son, or perhaps yourself – about some changes they want to make, hear them out. See what surfaces. And then, help them turn what’s on their mind into a lasting goal, massaged until they have an “80/80 Mindset”… no more, no less. When their lasting goal is set and their mind is set, they will be, too.
You never know, leaving S.M.A.R.T. goals in college textbooks and helping those you care about to truly discover their sweet spots in life might be the wisest thing you’ll ever do.
If you’d like to subscribe to our blog, click here.