HARD Goals Vs SMART Goals

We’ll I’ve been hearing/reading about SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) goals for ever now. Inspite of the fact that they keep on drilling them in our minds and making sure we’re all abiding by those 5 words to draw our plans, projects and visions…I still don’t really feel completely convinced.

When talking about what I want to achieve, when talking about what I’m planning to work on in my organizations..I don’t think I always have “SMART” goals in mind…infact rarely do I start with those “SMART” goals to rally people and inspire them …rarely do I recruit volunteers to assist by telling them “we’re going to improve X by 30% and remove 11% of the hurdles in the coming 4 months” …that really doesn’t excite me…doesn’t push me to explore new grounds…they’re good on paper…good for diagrams and figures…but they rarely inspire me…or others.

Most of the time they actually limit us…they are a repetition of what we’ve done earlier…we tend to take the safe road …putting down numbers and deadlines that we feel comfortable about…that we know match our current resources…our current skills…

After reading a book called “Hundred Percenters” by Mark Murphy I’d like to suggest a new kind of Goals… HARD Goals…and by HARD I mean Heartfelt, Animated, Required and Difficult…here’s why…

Heartfelt: Whenever I have something that touches me…that instills some feelings in me…its then that I start thinking of starting something new…its then that I feel a bigger purpose driving me… whether its empowering youth, helping children, guarding the environment, or starting a new business initiative…its that noble cause..that idea that clings to my heart that makes me start dreaming.

Animated: How many times do we get goals that practically mean nothing to us…that we can’t really imagine or envision …imagine if Martin Luther King, Jr. had stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and said:

Our goal should be that within the next 30 years, the incidents of hate crimes will be reduced by 63% and

that the percentage of minorities living below the poverty line will be no higher than the percentage for any other racial group.

How’s that for an inspirational speech? exciting? does it rally anyone? I don’t think so…infact I’m glad he said:

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Now that’s something both inspiring and imaginable …I can really look forward to ….no numbers…no deadlines…nothing “SMART” bout it…yet it really left an impact…

Required: How about all those “SMART” goals that if achieved, or not achieved, they might not really matter…life will not end at their door-steps. I don’t want my goals to just be a vision of a nicer future…I want them to be necessary…I want to show people that they are required and must be done…that those goals cover certain current or future needs and that by achieving them, life will really be better…tomorrow will be brighter.

Difficult: Yes you read it right..I want them to be difficult…I want them to be challenging. I don’t want those “achievable and realistic” goals…Some say that very difficult goals are demotivating…I say everything is feasible and every problem has a solution. Anyway, how difficult is difficult? well not much…come to think about it …what resources will you need? what new skills will you have to learn? …Personally if I’m not learning new things all the time and if I’m not pushing myself and others to be better…do things they never thought they can do before…achieve the dreams that once were impossible…then my goals are not difficult enough!

In the end, when talking about those HARD goals to whoever my audience/ team/ stakeholders/ beneficiaries are … I want them to drool over them…I want their hearts to throb for them…I want to see their eyes widen up…and to get their minds hard at work to figure out how and where to start….

So from now on…I will be using HARD goals..I hope you do to! 🙂

 

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54 thoughts on “HARD Goals Vs SMART Goals

  1. You got me convinced 🙂 I couldn’t agree more on engaging our emotions and setting goals that are some what challenging. not all people enjoy the challenges though. I guess it suites specific personality types. so, SMART or HARD, each my choose what motivates him/her more 🙂 🙂

    Awesome post Afif 🙂

  2. to me its about making hard choices..they are mostly more motivating as you have expressed and they are the reason why people do what they do..’cause at some point they do believe that they CAN change something 100%..deep inside they do believe it…
    personally, i like to think that im one of those people..those people that beieve that with simply the write motivations and group they can do anything that is everything..that’s why most of us are in NGOS and places related to making changes in the world..if we didnt believe that we could we wouldnt have bothered with our time, voice, and every nerve of our body!!
    anw nice post 3ifo.. 🙂

  3. I’ve always loved the idea of taking the difficult route to achieving things, because I explore and find some worthy on the way, something which I might have not have experienced or found had I taken the easier way out.For me, personally, anything that is mentally challenging appeals to me greatly, so I couldn’t agree with you more on that.Besides, if you don’t have it in you to take on hard goals,it will not strengthen your character,and if character is lost, everything is lost 😛

  4. Hi Afif, VERY interesting proposal on HARD goals, relevant not only for not-for-profit organizations but to all those who want to engage on a differentatited way with stakeholders both off & online!

  5. Nice post! I am also totally unconvinced by SMART goals. Anyone who has achieved anything really significant or magnificent has never had a SMART plan. In fact I think the insistence on SMART goals is what causes sales people to burn out so fast.

    There is no inspiration in SMART! The is no personal growth in SMART! There’s not even any fun in SMART!

    Now once you get to your action steps its a different story

    I like your concept of HARD goals a lot. I use BIG goals with my clients – Big Impossible Goals – what would you dare to do if you knew you could not fail?

  6. Really nice thought, expressed in a convincing manner.

    For a while, I was in this dilemma about SMART goals being practical but not being able to drive radical change / dramatic change. I am now convinced that the HARD approach to goals, driving through emotion and appeal, is the approach for driving this kind of change – be it an individual, a small team or a large organization.

    I am going to start by applying it for my own goals 🙂

  7. Hello there,

    I like your way of writing, it’s fluent and rich.
    I also like the Luther example, it’s a really gd one.
    in addition to that.. i definatly agree with the Hard Goals. I personnaly am only motivated by hard challenges and i easily get bored by easy ones.

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