Archive for January, 2011

How Smart are SMART Goals?

January 17, 2011

In my New Year’s Resolutions are Ineffective blog I revealed one of the top tips of coaches (from a recent survey/discussion forum) were for goals to be SMART, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. However, there was some debate around this and some coaches felt the process was restrictive, and more suitable to short-term task-focused goals only. The SMART process lacked room for creativity and imagination.

Perhaps the best way to explore this debate further is to take one of my goals for 2011 and apply SMART to it, then see how restricting (or otherwise) it feels.

Goal area: Developing my blog writing skills and frequency of posts

Applying SMART …

Specific: To be writing at least one blog entry per week by the end of March 2011, and feel content with what I have produced

Measurable: I can measure it in terms of evidence of weekly production, although I would need to explore what ‘content’ means for me, perhaps being able to give my efforts a 7/10 or above would mean I am content (?)

Achievable: It’s achievable in that I have the skills to write a blog and have written blogs in the past. I also have the time and material to write one per week.

Realistic: It seems a realistic goal. I am not over-stretching my skills or giving myself an unworkable target.

Time-bound: I have a time scale of the end of March, and want to have published a blog weekly during March to say I’ve achieved this goal.

OK, so having applied SMART – how do I feel about it? To be honest, it feels clearer and more focused, but not particularly exciting. I think it takes me beyond my comfort zone and into my stretch zone (which is where I believe goals should be) but will it inspire me to go beyond that? Will I want to sustain it and aim for ‘new heights’?

For me, a goal needs to be exciting and motivating, so this goal will need more work. I believe it’s part of a bigger picture, a bigger goal … one that will be part of my CPD. What will help me, perhaps, as a starting point is to answer the following questions:

1. What values does this goal support?

2. What are the benefits of achieving this goal (including personal growth benefits)?

3. What new skills / knowledge will achieving it give me?

4. What else could it lead to?

5. What will my reward(s) be for achieving it? (I know here that achievement will be reward in itself, but it will be nice to have something to look forward to, so I will come up with a tangible reward too!)

To conclude, I think SMART applied to this particular goal is relevant but it has its short-comings, and I think is restricting.

I’m interested to hear whether you apply SMART to your goal-setting process, and how it works for you. please feel free to comment below.

*Thanks to David Clutterbuck for his comments and insight into SMART and goal-setting.

Photo above courtesy of jscreationzs /

New Year’s Resolutions are Ineffective …

January 17, 2011

Make sure you achieve your goals this year

So, we’re approaching that time of year when New Year’s resolutions start to get broken….

How are you faring? If you’re going strong, achieving success and are confident of attaining the end result, then you probably have a winning formula, and congratulations! If, on the other hand, things have slipped, doubt is creeping in and certain obstacles have forced their way into your path, you may need a helping hand.

In themselves, I believe New Year’s resolutions are ineffective UNLESS they are supported by well thought-out plans. I remember setting NYRs year after year when I was younger, and each year saying to myself, “this year will be different!”, and “I am determined!” But determination on its own is not enough. In my previous career I often set targets and objectives, and in my coaching training I was given tools and techniques to help clients set effective goals …. all far more effective than merely ‘resolving’ to do something differently. Some people cringe when you mention goal-setting and perhaps it’s an over-used term, but whatever term you choose to use (target, goal, resolution….) when you want to make changes you need a well thought through plan.

I recently posted a question to fellow coaches on different coaching forums, asking what they considered to be their Top 5 tips for Goal-Setting, a little bit of research, you could say! Many engaged in the discussions and their responses were quite varied, ranging from using the SMART process, to ensuring you are being authentic (i.e. linking your goal to your ideal self, based on a strong level of self-awareness).

I will now share with you the top 5 tips from the coaches who took part.

Tip 1 Goals must fit SMART criteria (although see link to this discussed in a separate blog)

Tip 2 Goals must be linked to your values

Tip 3 You need to enlist support: your peers, a coach, a family member ….

Tip 4 You must have a clear vision of what you want (which can be supported by mind maps / images / drawings, etc.)

Tip 5 Reviewing your goal regularly during your journey towards its conclusion is important; learn what (if anything) isn’t working and make adjustments; but remember – there’s no failure, only feedback!

In a previous blog I suggested my own Top 5 tips for setting effective goals / targets. Future blogs this month will address goal setting tips in more detail, but for now I hope the tip outlines are a useful start.


Above photo courtesy of jscreationzs