First off, let me apologize for getting this out a few days late. Some technical difficulties… we had a small server/PC disagreement and I couldn’t access my notes when needed, and some extra family busyness.
You’re not here to read about my chaos however. You’re here to sign up for Round 4 and (hopefully) to enjoy an enlightening post on goal-setting. So let’s do it to it!
Normally, for this particular post, I would write a long post about how we need to make S.M.A.R.T. goals for a our writing lives, but… today I’m going to offer another take on goal setting and how it might not always be so smart to be S.M.A.R.T..
As I noted in the last two Wednesday posts, I’ve been reading a book on labels and human intelligence called Ungifted, by Scott Barry Kaufman. In it he describes how some scientists are refining our understanding of how we are motivated to succeed. Of course, goals and goal-setting would be prime targets for such a a discussion.
In the book, there are two kinds of goals:
- learning goals — these tend to be self-directed, usually involve a personal desire for self-improvement ⇒ lead to mastery
- performance goals — these tend to be motivated by external rewards such as money, status, approval of others ⇒ can lead to fear of failure
Both have their uses. Balance seems to be key, but as many scientists have noted, our lives are driven by performance-related goals, not learning ones. Or, in other words, the world demands our performance over our inner growth.
Thing is, you see that small addendum at the end of the bit about performance goals? When we are working to please others all the time at the expense of bettering ourselves, we can stifle our creativity and motivation. We can create a personal helplessness where we chastise ourselves for not being good enough or where we refuse to try new things for fear of looking foolish or dumb. We become distracted from our intentions as we focus on what can go wrong and how to stop those things, building anxiety and stress, instead of getting to work and staying on task when things get harder.
How do these types of goals compare with the S.M.A.R.T. pattern?
- Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
- Achievable – have the specific skills needed to achieve the goal
- Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
- Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved
I can already see some potential conflicts. How about you?
This isn’t to say you should stop setting goals according to the S.M.A.R.T. pattern. There are good reasons to use it, the biggest of which is that well thought-out goals using this pattern work when you need to get something done. However, we have other needs that we should note when we set goals for ourselves too. And satisfying these more personal needs will hold us strong when we have a lot more demands for our performance.
I’d be curious to know what you think here. Do you find your goal-setting in balance with your life or not? Did you ever wonder why some goals worked better than others? Feel free to comment here, on your own blogs via the linky, or even via a our FB page…