I spent a long time thinking that goals should be SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound). It made sense to me. I was running a team of 30+ in the corporate world and I needed to motivate my team.
Setting unrealistic goals would demotivate and lead to higher staff turnover (expensive and time consuming) and wouldn’t help us hit our targets. So SMART Goals were the way to go.
I have since come to understand just how naive I was. Let me explain why.
I can get behind Specific and Measurable but Achievable and Realistic WOW was I wrong. Let me give you an example:
If I’m making $5,000 per month and I set a SMART goal to increase my income I would go for say 20% increase to $6,000 or a massive $1,000 increase. To get there I have to work harder, longer hours, be more efficient, cut corners and deliver the same results at a lower cost. My life doesn’t improve measurably with an extra $1,000 in my pocket, but my quality of life has gone down, the level of service I can give my clients goes down. I am heading for mediocre returns on a life filled with 20% more work.
Now if I set an unrealistic goal, 10 X or 12 X I’m now looking at targets of $50,000 to $60,000. To get here $10,000 is just a stepping stone. I can’t add an extra 400 hours to my already busy week so I have to find a NEW way of working. Unreasonable goals have pushed me to innovate. I have to think very differently to solve this problem.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
George Bernard Shaw
In the corporate world when teams fail to hit their sales targets either they get fired or more likely the targets get reviewed downwards to keep the team “Happy”.
As an entrepreneur you cannot allow yourself to be lulled into mediocrity and a mundane life by SMART goals. Failure and innovation go hand in hand.
Embrace failure when you are striving for the exceptional.