…is it a SMART time to retire it!
SMART has been a great workhorse. I actually used it for many years myself (until 2006). But… it’s sadly out of date. In short, SMART is dead – it died of hard work and old age.
First, for those of you unfamiliar with SMART as a Goal-setting mechanism, here’s a quick rundown, and then we’ll tell you why it’s ‘old hat’. Sorry
There are many variations, but generally it’s agreed that SMART stands for:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Time-bound
Word has it that the S.M.A.R.T. acronym was first introduced by George Doran back in a 1981 issue of Management Review, in which he wrote: ‘There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives.’
It started out slowly, as most new ideas do, but grew to be the Goal-setting ‘tool of choice’ for millions around the world. This was often as part of improving project management processes in business. When it came to creating project objectives the SMART goal was the way used to define and agree consensus on goals – and in many ‘slow to change’ organisations, it still is! It’s used for setting all sorts of objectives or goals – career, health, financial, personal development, and work… SMART is valid, but massively outdated.
BUT… here’s why SMART is dead and VISTA is King!
- Goals or Objectives don’t start with Specifics. No matter what the desired outcome. ALL outcomes starts off as mental pictures. Think about it! (…and I bet that thought was a picture of some sort.) Whether it’s asking someone, ‘Can you stack these boxes over there please?’ …or something as huge as planning the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, the outcome can be described as an image. It may be vivid or fuzzy or ill defined, but an image none the less. All goals or objectives start as Visualised (or mentally conceptualised) desired outcomes.
- And then… You still don’t go from the Visualised outcome straight into Specifics unless you want to. If this Visualised picture makes you ‘feel’ like you ‘want’ to achieve the Outcome being described or pictured i.e. the Visualised outcome is Inspirational – it is only then that it can be described in terms of Specifics.
- Specifically, we will probably need to take action on a number of steps to achieve that Visualised outcome.
- Next… The final desired Outcome needs to be Time-Bound (Time-Bound rather than Timely as it ‘inspires’ a sense of urgency) as does each step along the way; and each of these steps needs to be…
- Assessable – You need to be able to Assess progress at each step of the way. Achievement, then acknowledgment then celebration/reward of each step allows you to build momentum – one small success leading you on to other small successes leading on to the final achievement of the desired Outcome. (of course Assessable is the replacement for measurable in SMART)
But what happened to Achievable and Realistic?… I hear all you SMART devotees say. Well, here’s the rub. How many things have been achieved over the years that the majority have described as ‘impossible’? Including such favourites as: Circumnavigating the globe; the electric light; television; and a black man becoming president of the USA! (which is a great thing by the way!)
And the same for the term Realistic. The meanings of these words are both relative – relative to the current state of mind or knowledge or capabilities of an individual or a culture or an organisation. ‘Nothing is either Good or Bad (or realistic or achievable) except that thinking makes it so!’ (apology to William Shakespeare)
In short… If my Visualisation Inspires me sufficiently, I can achieve virtually anything! So… we don’t really need Achievable or Realistic. I believe anything and everything is achievable – at least mentally and emotionally if not always physically. We crave the thoughts and feelings of success more than the actual attainment of it. And, I know I place unrealistic expectations on myself and others. To be a realist is often a way to mask negativity or allowing myself an ‘out clause’ so I can Blame something or somebody or Justify my lack of progress.
And what does this have to do with TOM? Trust yourself to achieve your goals, set VISTA Objectives that lead to VISTA Outcomes (the ‘O’ in TOM) and ensure there is sufficient Motivation (the ‘M’ in TOM) and again, anything is possible.
Why is VISTA a SMART alternative?
Visualised – What is the mental picture you have of success. Close your eyes and try to imagine what it will look, sound, feel, smell and taste like the exact moment when you realise that you have succeeded
In this imaginary scene, who is there, what is happening and most importantly – how does it FEEL emotionally? A clear and motivating vision of a future state is your most powerful ally in the process of creation. What would be your chances of scoring without being able to see the goal posts; building a house without first drawing plans; or navigating through tricky waters without an accurate chart?
Inspirational – This aspect is a result of the scene you have visualised. Is it powerful enough to move you into action? Not only the final vision, but is every mental picture of succeeding at every step on the way inspirational? (see Assessable)
Specific – What exactly are the specific steps or stages you need to pass through before you match your vision. There may be just one major picture of success you have in mind, or several smaller achievements that combined will give you your all-important ‘feel good factor’. Make certain that when you define your goal you specify every detail you can possibly think of. Write the colour, shape, size, taste, and sound of your goal. Identify how you want to feel when the result is achieved.
Time bound – Place deadlines on each specific step, as well as the final outcome. Goals are most effective when they just far enough out of reach to give an eventual sense of accomplishment, but not so far as to demotivate. We use ‘Time-bound’ rather than ‘timely’ or ‘time specific’, as it implies that you will be bound, almost by an inferred contract with yourself, to deliver on the prescribed date. You are creating a self-imposed deadline. As mentioned under ’Assessable’, it is important to incorporate this check at the same time as stating the ‘Specifics’ of the goal.
Assessable – It is imperative that there be points at regular intervals where your progress is noticeable. Knowing where they are, imagining how it will feel when you get there, acknowledging and celebrating their achievement are all-important stages in achieving your objective. Now you have set a deadline for successful completion, begin breaking up the goal into assessable chunks. Quite simply, decide what is the date you want to see, feel, experience success for each of these chunks. Assessable steps must be quantifiable in terms of time, or amount, or number, so that it is obvious to ‘you’ that you have made progress. They could be: number of sales; confirmation that a decision has been made; a certain amount of money in a savings account; a positive work appraisal. Even 1) the first phone call to set up 2) a first meeting to 3) decide a course of action gives you three assessable points. They can in fact be anything that you can hold up and say, ”Yes! This means I am on track toward reaching my ultimate goal.”
So… Are you going to set exciting new VISTA goals or boring old SMART ones?
Learn how to use VISTA in your life or business. Go to EveryoneagreeswithTOM.com
Copyright Ross Page 2006