Forget SMART goals. Make them SMARTER.

5 simple mindset shifts that will supercharge goal achievement (while eliminating New Year's Resolutions!)

Man pointing to a rocket and hitting the target goal
If you care about self-improvement, you've probably heard of the goal-setting standard for goals: SMART.
S.M.A.R.T. is a five-word acronym that frames the best way to set your goals. While SMART terms vary depending on the source, it generally means that any goal should meet the following five standards:
  • Your goal should be SPECIFIC
  • Your goal should be MEASURABLE
  • Your goal should be ACHIEVABLE
  • Your goal should be REALISTIC
  • Your goal should be TIMELY
Using SMART goals is always better than ambiguous pursuits like "lose weight" or "get healthy." However, the SMART framework for goal achievement is sadly inadequate. Moreover, smart people like yourself should find SMART unhelpfully redundant.
SMART showed me how to set goals, but it never showed me how to achieve goals.
Let's discuss the first two criteria: Specific and Measurable.
These two guidelines for goal setting are essentially the same thing.
For instance, consider the goal Gain 15 pounds of muscle and get to 15% bodyfat. This goal is measurable; therefore, it is specific. A specific goal, by default, is measurable, either numerically or by a boolean status of "true" or "false."
A goal to "do 100 situps in 60 seconds" is easily measurable. However, the goal of "win an Academy Award" is also measurable as it is evidenced by a simple TRUE or FALSE; it is achieved or isn't. Therefore, any specific dream goal automatically becomes measurable.
Likewise, Realistic and Achievable suffer the same dilemma. By definition, a realistic goal is achievable, and an achievable goal is realistic.
One will always require the other.
If my goal is "to play in the NBA," the objective is neither achievable nor realistic.
Realism is the naked truth of achievability...
Conversely, if my goal is "to become President of the United States," the goal is achievable (I'm of eligible age and citizenry) but isn't realistic. Realism is the naked truth of achievability—and despite my eligibility—I will never become president. Achievability becomes a tacit falsehood, exposed by realisticness.
So in defense of SMART and SMART advocates everywhere, great goals are indeed Measurable and Realistic. However, diligently abiding by these two standards will also get you a bonus of Specific and Achievable. In short, you no longer need them.
As someone who has set and met goals for over 30 years, SMART has never worked for me. It only worked at helping me fantasize about a dream life I would never have.
Why?
The answer is the most crucial reason why SMART goals are inadequate, far more significant than a few semantical nuances.
SMART showed me how to set goals, but it never showed me how to achieve goals.
And that's the problem with the SMART goal-setting framework. It does a decent job at scaffolding a goal so you can tape it to the mirror or hang it on your wall, but it fails at the most crucial thing: engineering its execution.

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In other words, if your only objective is to set a bunch of goals you'll never achieve, SMART will work for you. However, if you want to set a goal that you actually might execute and complete, you need to be SMARTER.
SMARTER is not only focused on goal setting—but on goal achievement, and it is the core framework of the GoalSumo system.
Here is the SMARTER system for goal achievement.
  • SIGNIFICANT
  • MEASURABLE
  • APPORTIONED
  • REALISTIC
  • TASK-ORIENTED
  • ELASTIC
  • REGULAR

SIGNIFICANT

The first standard of setting effective goals is to make your goal Significant.
Bold.
Audacious.
Something that inspires your soul and excites your day. Most people fail at this step and think small. They grossly underestimate what they can achieve in a few short years of dedicated, focused deep work. A larger-than-life goal forces you to grow and develop into someone new, a person capable of achieving the goal.
At GoalSumo, the 6- to 10-year time horizon defines dream goals, life-changing triumphs that can occur with the right strategy behind them. From "become a celebrity actor with 1 feature length movie to my credit" to "own a business with $5 million dollars in profits," dream goals aren't subtle; they change your life forever.
The second standard of a good goal-setting strategy is your objectives should be Measurable, either numerically or with a true/false assessment.
A goal to "run a marathon in under 2 hours 10 minutes" is easily measurable. However, a more ambiguous goal of "winning the Boston Marathon" is also measurable because it is defined by a simple True or False. You win, or you don't.
The key to measurability is specificity.

MEASURABLE

The second standard of a good goal-setting strategy is your objectives should be Measurable, either numerically or with a true/false assessment.
A goal to "run a marathon in under 2 hours 10 minutes" is easily measurable. However, a more ambiguous goal of "winning the Boston Marathon" is also measurable because it is defined by a simple True or False. You win, or you don't.
The key to measurability is specificity.

APPORTIONED

The third criterion for a great goal-setting strategy is your goals need to be Apportioned. If you want any chance of achieving goals, segment them into smaller, bite-sized chunks.
If you have 6 years to win a 26-mile marathon, an apportioned goal would be to run 1 mile in 6 minutes within the next month.
Not having apportioned goals is where SMART has consistently failed me. I had big plans that were only achievable in theory. My big dreams always seemed too big and too distant—I never deconstructed them into manageable chunks that I could accomplish. The outcome was demotivating, not inspiring.
GoalSumo is a completely apportioned system. Any goal you set can be reverse-engineered and apportioned into weekly goals and daily tasks. This systemization is how your seemingly impossible goals transform from improbable fantasy to a potential reality.

REALISTIC

Big goals become realistic if they have apportioned and achievable sub-goals. While you might not be able to run a marathon today, you can run 1 mile this week. This is how big dreams are made realistic and achievable. Anything becomes possible if your big goals are chained to smaller, attainable weekly goals.
This "chaining" action is fundamental to GoalSumo; we're not a goal-setting system, we're a goal-achieving system.

TASK-ORIENTED

The fifth guideline for hitting goals is to make all your sub-goals are Task-oriented. Task orientation is about controlling and focusing on what you can while letting go of the rest.
For example, "win the Boston Marathon," is a bold, outcome-oriented goal. However, this outcome is not directly under your control, from dealing with poor weather to running against challenging competitors.
There's nothing wrong with big, outcome-oriented goals; however, all their Apportioned sub-goals should be deconstructed into task-oriented objectives. So ultimately, "win the Boston marathon" should be converted into "Run a 26 mile marathon under 2 hours and 8 minutes." This measurable metric gives the outcome-based dream goal a significant probability of achievement.

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ELASTIC

Goal achievement is a messy, unpredictable art. Life always seems to get in the way, from unexpected bills to job changes to challenging circumstances. When setting and hitting goals, deadlines are more detrimental than helpful.
Instead, your goals and their time frame for achievement should be completely Elastic and flexible. It might take five weeks to run your first mile in less than 10 minutes, not two. The point isn't about deadlines; it's about meaningful progress—progress that keeps you excited, motivated, and inspired to carry forward.
GoalSumo proudly does not offer calendar integrations or deadlines. Our systematic goal-setting platform operates within Elastic time-silos, f rom dream goals (6-10 years) to short-term goals (6-24 months) to weekly goals (1-3 weeks). This allows you a full range of flexibility to accomplish whatever needs to be done without guilt or anxiety.

REGULAR

The final strategy in GoalSumo's SMARTER system is simple, but important: Your goals must be a Regular part of your day.
The sub-goals that comprise your big goals must make it to your daily to-do list. If they don't, goals remain fantasies. The habits that need to form don't materialize. We built our Daily Sumo system to make sure that any goal you set, no matter the size, can be broken down into a weekly and daily task. Our cascading goal-chain system is one-of-a-kind. You won't find the same focus on personal goal achievement in any other productivity app.
...your big goals must make it to your daily to-do list. If they don't, goals remain fantasies.
Simply put, great goals aren't accomplished because you spent 4 minutes setting them. Most people set goals mentally or write them on paper and stop there. Goals might be SMART, but they're not SMARTER. Without a step-by-step plan, a blueprint that turns ambitious goals into granular milestones, goals become no better than an ineffective New Year's Resolution. And we all know that most New Year's Resolutions fail.
Smarter Framework Infographic
Supercharge goal achievement in your life and let GoalSumo transform your big dreams into reality. Don't be SMART about your goals; let GoalSumo make you SMARTER. And transform your best life into a tangible reality.
See you in the victory circle.
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MJ DeMarco, Cofounder

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