I was hesitant to write this post.
I don’t want to say that I was traumatized as that’s probably a bit dramatic, but having to complete SMART goals each year for a previous job did… leave a bad taste in my mouth. Can anyone else relate??
Considering that the SMART framework is an effective way to set achievable goals, it’s obviously very disappointing to feel this way about the process. So, when I heard about SMARTER goals while listening to the audio version of Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt, I wanted to give the whole process another chance.
What are SMARTER goals? How are SMARTER goals different from SMART goals?
So, if you haven’t had the firsthand experience of setting SMART goals, the acronym (first created by George Doran and then changed slightly) stands for the following:
Now, SMARTER goals created by Michael Hyatt changes things up a bit:
Comparing the two lists, you’ll notice that the major idea remains, but SMARTER goals sound more fun. (Maybe, that’s just me?) I feel that the biggest difference between the two is that SMARTER goals pushes you to think/dream bigger and go after what you truly want rather than what’s easy. Apparently, there is some science showing that if you set bigger goals, you find ways to achieve it.
If you want a breakdown of each of the letters, I recommend reading this blog post from Michael Hyatt himself. He says it better than I could!
How to Set SMARTER Goals with Goal Examples
So, what does this actually look like? (I’m a runner, so I’m sorry if you didn’t want to hear about fitness goals…)
Let’s start with a vague goal/broad goal: I want to run more.
Obviously, this lacks any sort of action plan and isn’t really a measurable goal. What is more? When do you want to start this? How do you know if you’re improving? Etc.
A better, more effective goal might be: I will run the SPECIFIC 5K on SPECIFIC date in 30 minutes or less.
This checks the boxes and could be a good goal for some. However, if you aren’t already a runner with a regular running routine, this doesn’t really provide you a path to get there. In fact, you may find the date of the 5K approaching and realize you haven’t trained at all and skip the whole thing entirely.
So, an even better goal in that particular situation might be: Run 30 minutes three times a week at 5:30 am at the park near my house.
This is very specific. You know what you are doing, when you are doing it, where you are doing it, and how often you are doing. Obviously, if the idea of waking up that early doesn’t excite you, this isn’t the correct goal for you.
Setting My Own SMARTER Goal
While it’s fun to talk about goals generally and use fake examples, I find it’s always much more interesting to hear about what people’s goals actually are. I guess I’m nosy.
For me, I know I personally have a big stretch goal of one day running an ultramarathon. (Honestly, typing that out scares me a little!)
So, that might look something like: Run a 50K race in December 2024. Note: I do have a specific race in mind, but don’t really feel like sharing it with the entire internet…
But obviously, as a runner just coming back from an injury and who has only run one half-marathon (Check out the 3 Lessons I Learned from my First Half-Marathon), I could set all sorts of in-between goals including running a half-marathon in December 2023 in under 2 hours, followed by completing a marathon in February 2024, prior to the big race in late 2024.
To me, this is exciting and risky. I’ve never run that far before. And for reasons I can’t really explain, it excites me.
Final Thoughts on SMARTER Goals
What I love about the SMARTER goals framework is that this doesn’t have to be about corporate career goals or only a way for companies to boost employee engagement. You can use this to set all kinds of personal goals- fitness goals, social goals, family goals, decluttering goals, you get the idea.
I could see creating a goal worksheet at the beginning of the year (like an improved New Year’s Resolutions process) and then following up each week, month or quarter to make sure you’re still on track or setting a few new goals to replace the ones you accomplished.
If you’d like a template that you can plug YOUR goals into and help guide you through the goal-setting process, Michael Hyatt did include a helpful resource in his book: https://bestyearever.me/goaltemplates/
Please leave a comment below if this process has worked for you and what you’re working toward these days!