Specific: exactly what outcome do you want, as of a particular date?
Measurable: how much or how many of it do you want to see on this date?
Achievable: is there any obstacle between you and this outcome?
Realistic: Do you have what you need to reach such an outcome by this date?
Timely: So, what is this date, already?
As you can see, it's all about something being completed on a particular date in the future. There's a problem with this. SMART goals are really just small steps intended to take you toward a long-term goal. But many long-term goals (dreams) are never-ending. I dream of being an excellent teacher. But there will never be a day where I stand up, wipe my hands and announce, "At last! I have reached teaching perfection!" If I'm working my way through a never-ending sequence of future-oriented SMART outcomes, when do I pay attention to today?
I'm not dismissing the idea of setting goals. It's more a matter of questioning whether outcomes really represent success. For example, imagine a guy who wants so much to complete a marathon that he runs through a serious injury and later must give up his hobby of running. He completed the marathon. Is he a successful runner? Another person wants a promotion so badly that she ruins personal relationships to get it. Later, her damaged relationships reduce her ability to collaborate and negotiate (not to mention her diminished emotional support and enjoyment on the job). She got the promotion. Is she a success at work?
If I let myself become outcome-driven, I can be looking so hard into the future that I don't see the present. I can miss experiences with my loved ones, fail to see health issues in myself, ignore warning signs at my place of work, and so forth.
As a person who has followed passions with gusto for many years, I'm all for setting goals and being willing to put a lot of effort into meeting them. But how could I do this without being ruled by outcomes?
I'm wondering ...
|What are my intentions? What will the outcomes be?|
Note that there's room in this plan for many of the concepts embedded in SMART goal-setting. I choose a specific intention each day. I review the effects of past actions (I can measure, and I can write it down and make graphs from it or whatever ... I'm just not focused on measuring up to some preset value by some artificially-determined date). When I'm choosing my intention, I can consider potential obstacles and resources. And I couldn't be more timely than right now! This turns outcomes into the side effects of open-ended choices, rather than looming targets that limit my choices.
What do you think? Do you think this could work for a teacher? A learner? What would a notebook that recorded intentions and effects look like? Could it replace lesson plans? Could it replace homework?