To Hell with SMART Goals, I’m Setting Stupid Ones

Written by on 06 Oct 2015

A couple weeks ago, I told you how an unsolicited piece of advice had a profound impact on me.


And you loved it!


Because there was such a great response to that post about my friend Will helping me go from zero to sixty in life, I’ve decided to dig a little deeper into that metaphor.


In case you missed it, you can check out my post about Will’s incredible metaphor for life here, but here are the basics to get you through our lesson today.


Will left me an audio message that said a few things about how to get where you want to go in life. In order to “know what we’re doing” we need a couple items locked down. I've boiled this down to the following list.


How to Accomplish Anything In Life


  1. Know the needle you want to move.
  2. Know why you intend to move that needle.
  3. Know where you want the needle to go.
  4. Know how to move that dang needle.


And most importantly…


  1. Do the things that move that dang needle!


This speedometer (aka odometer) metaphor can be summed up very simply:


  1. Choose a goal.
  2. Define your “why”.
  3. Determine what “winning” looks like.
  4. Figure out what you need to do to move closer to that goal.


And of course, most importantly…




That’s it. Achieving anything in life is as simple as those 5 steps. Well, as simple and as difficult.


What I realized after I wrote that post, again thanks to Will, is that while this process might seem simple at first, each part really requires its own exploration. Each of the steps is so crucial to our success that we need to master them one after the other, rather than all at once.


With that in mind, each week from now through the next 4 weeks we’re going to cover each successive step in this process.


Today, we’re going to talk about choosing goals.


My hope is that you can use this week to set your goals, next week to define your intentions, the third week to determine your version of success, and fourth week to outline activities that will bring you closer to that goal, and the fifth week…


Make that dang needle move!


I’m so excited, but at the same time, this topic today makes me sigh.


Ugh… goal-setting.


It might be one of the oldest, most overdone, and most heavily authored subjects there is besides leadership, religion, and politics.


Every time I hear the phrase goal-setting I think about elementary school when we learned about “SMART” goals.


For those of you who had chicken pox that day, SMART goals is actually an acronym that stands for:


S- Specific (or Significant)

M- Measurable (or Meaningful)

A- Attainable (or Action Oriented)

R- Relevant (or Rewarding)

T- Time-bound (or Trackable)


SMART goals are a great framework for defining what matters to you in life and setting yourself up to win by making your goals tangible, concrete, and manageable.


But that’s not what we’re going to do here today, because it's been done before and hey, it's boring.


When you think about goals, I want you to go… crazy.


Get ridiculous with your goals.


I recently saw an amazing speaker who challenged us by saying,


“If your goal doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough.”


He was a musician, and his metaphor was to “write music you can’t play.” To him, a goal was really only worth pursuing if there was a chance he actually wouldn’t get there. In other words, in order to chase goals and dreams you’ve never done before… you have to actually do things you’ve never done before.


That last one hit me pretty hard.


But it’s so true, and you need to hear it.


Most of our goals lie somewhere in the beyond, specifically in a place we’ve never been before. In order to get there, we have to go to those places we’ve never been before. And sometimes, the fear of doing something new is the thing that holds us back from ever taking action toward our goals.


How horribly ironic is that?!


But once you know it, you can fight it!


So his method was this—“start with what’s cool”!


Instead of starting with somethings that's possible or something that's been done before, start with something cool.


Apply that to your own life right now.


When you look to the future and you think about doing what you were created to do, what can you imagine in your mind’s eye and think…


Wow, that would be so cool.


Is it traveling around the world? Is it starting a band? Is it meeting the person of your dreams? Is it making the 30 Under 30 list? Is it writing your own 30 Under 30 list?


What is it?


Tell me. What is it?


Is it starting a family? Is it publishing a book? Is it becoming debt-free? Is it speaking at a conference in Hawaii? Is it getting an invitation to Richard Branson’s secret island?


What is it?


Seriously, come on. Tell me. What is it?


Is it selling your artwork? Is it starting a dog-walking business for the stars? Is it sky diving as your side job? Is it learning a new language? Is it starting a non-profit or charity?


What is it?


What have you been wishing, hoping, dreaming, and praying to do for years but never took that all-important Step One?


What’s cool?


What is it?


What needle in your life do you want to move?


Is doesn’t have to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, or time-bound. Those qualifiers can always come later. There’s plenty of time to take your crazy-cool goal and add boundaries to it, but for now, just pick a piece of music that you can’t play.


And commit to it.


For the next 5 weeks, I want you to take this needle that you’ve chosen and commit to it.


It doesn’t matter what it is, and I promise you this—it cannot be too small.


Plenty of envious lives were built with the goal of brushing your teeth twice a day or remember to water all the plants in the same week.


Start small. Start sucky. Start insane.


Just tell me…


What is it?


Because in the Wise Words of Will, once we know what it is


Then I can help you get there.


Remember—if we know the fuel is in the engine and I know what winning looks like and we have a needle and I know what moves the needle… hey, now we’re talking!


But we have to start with the "what".


What’s your goal for the next five weeks?


Share it in the comments below, and let’s get started on this journey together.


See you next week for living with intention-- finding your "why".


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Please visit Appearance->Widgets to add your widgets here