Some days, it’s easy to feel like nothing is happening and you’re never going to get where you want to go in life. Big projects like writing a book or major changes, such as losing weight or moving to a new area involve leaving the comfort zone of what is and heading into the gray area of what could be.
Many people suggest that goal-setting should follow the SMART acronym (or something similar), which states that goals should be “specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.” I disagree. If you ask me, it all depends on the type of goal.
The SMART factors are useful for your day-to-day “to do” list. Everything on your to do list should meet those criteria. However, when you start looking at really big goals like starting your own business or relocating, the typical SMART approach is a serious buzz kill.
For example, when we decided to start our business and move out of the city, it was such a big dream that it was exciting and a little overwhelming. Had we applied the SMART approach to a big dream goal like that, we probably would have just gotten discouraged and depressed and looked for reasons to decide it was all too hard.
With a really big dream goal, you need consider how it makes you feel. Does it give you hope or inspiration? A little thrill? The bottom line is does it feel right? For us, the idea of leaving our cruddy cubicle jobs in Southern California was so powerful that we felt compelled to move forward. The idea of making money for ourselves (instead of someone else) was decidedly thrilling and it corresponded to our even bigger dream of moving away from the city to an area with lots of trees. Starting a business was a means to that end. We didn’t try to apply SMART factors to the big dream or make 5-year plans. Instead we visualized the end point and worked backwards from there and formed small intermediate goals as we gained more information.
The intermediate goals involved a lot of small tasks. First we wrote away to Chambers of Commerce to find out more about potential places to live. After that, we took vacations to visit parts of the country that looked promising as a new home. At the same time, we formulated our exit plans from Corporate America and took a class on entrepreneurship. All these small (SMART) goals worked toward our big dream goals, but we didn’t create any type of timeline or measurements. We just kept the vision for the big dream at the forefront of our minds.
These days our goals revolve around a vision of migrating Logical Expressions from a purely service business to a publishing company. The day-to-day (SMART) goals have involved creating and releasing books, software, and other products.
I manage my day-to-day goals with an extremely simple worksheet. Because we publish books, newsletters, software and an online magazine, my to do list this week includes entries for writing this article (almost done!), writing a Computor Companion article, rewriting our IdeaWeaver home page, and working on the Happy Tabby web site. All of these are small steps toward larger projects.
Had we mapped out every nuance of becoming a publishing company, we might have just bailed out before we even began. Because of the big dream, now we have four books, a software product, and other smaller products that we sell every day. It all starts with that big dream goal.