So January is cruising right along and people are no longer wishing each other “Happy New Year” and resolutions are falling by the wayside like autumn leaves.  So how do you create momentum and reach your goals?  As the popular misquote attributed to the Cheshire Cat in Alice In Wonderland, “If you don’t know where youre going, any road will get you there.”  Yes, folks, we are going to talk about goal setting.

In the corporate world, they teach that we need to have SMART goals.  While I agree and understand to a point, I also believe that you need to have intelligent goals.  So what is the difference?

SMART goals are:  Specific – Measurable – Achievable – Results-focused – Time bound   For a more thorough explanation, there are plenty of books and articles on the subject.  Try this one:

Intelligent goals are SMART goals only smarter.  My experience and what I’ve been taught is that setting goals is a bit of an art.  A goal may be written and declared in seemingly perfect SMART format but the language of that goal or the intention of that goal may totally derail you.  So what do I mean by that?

Have you ever had see-saw results where you rocket toward a goal and almost reach it only to slip backward? Think Sisyphus who was doomed for all eternity to roll a rock to the top of the mountain only to watch it roll back from its own weight.  In analyzing the goal, you may find that you are pushing away from something instead of being pulled towards something.  Like the rock, what you are pushing away from eventually pulls you back from its own weight.  On the other side of the coin, a goal that pulls you forward will continue to do so.  There is no falling back.

So how can you transform a SMART goal into an intelligent goal?

  • Is it directionally correct?  Is the goal stated in language that indicates that you are being pulled toward the goal?  For example, the goal of not being fat does not seem directionally correct when compared to the goal of attaining an ideal weight with grace and ease by making healthy food and exercise choices.
  • Is it ecological? Is it in your best interests and in alignment with your higher purpose?  Some of the questions to ask are: is it a healthy goal?  Would attaining the goal negatively impact someone else?   Does any part of me object to achieving this goal?  Is achieving the goal self-contained (does not rely on others to start or sustain it)?  How many ways can the goal be achieved?  Is the goal grounded in an appropriate context?

With a few tweaks to previous resolutions and goals, you can move toward achieving the previously unattainable.

My final thought was sparked by the quote from Gary Ryan Blair “Your mind, while blessed with permanent memory, is cursed with lousy recall.  Written goals provide clarity.  By documenting your dreams, you must think about the process of achieving them.”  So once you formulate your intelligent goals, write them down and be accountable for attaining them.