5 Reasons SCARY Goals are Better than SMART Ones


Flickr photo by profaniti

We’ve all seen this graphic of SMART goals if we’ve done any searching for ways of making our days more productive. Productivity gurus tell us over and over again that we have to set GOALS that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.  A Google search for the term SMART goals returns 86,300,000 results.

But I think SMART goals are kind of DUMB. They might be good for getting that report turned in on time at work or getting all the filing put away, but they seem to encourage the mediocre and bland.

What if you are trying to do the NEXT BIG THING?

If you want to be a DOER of DEEDS, someone who makes a DIFFERENCE, a CREATOR of SOMETHING from NOTHING, I think your goals have to be kind of SCARY.

By SCARY, I mean just that.

When you think about them, you get that funny feeling in your stomach that tells you that you are about to embark on something slightly outside of your comfort zone.

A BIG IDEA won’t feel safe. You’ll feel inadequate, not up to it, like you want to run away. That’s a good sign. That feeling means that you are setting a SCARY goal.

SCARY goals are great because they are just like riding a roller coaster. You stand in line, knowing that you’ll be terrified when you get to the top of the first drop, but that you’ll be in for a heck of a ride all the way down.

You can also break SCARY goals down by the acronym SCARY as well.

A SCARY goal is See-able.

If you can visualize it. You can do it. This has been proven over and over and there are tons of websites dedicated to how this works. If you don’t know how to visualize. Learn. It’s a powerful tool for achieving those goals.

A SCARY goal is Creative.

A SCARY goal is not just wanting to make a lot of money. It is using your powers of creativity to create something that people value and can get some use out of. When you give value, the money follows. Don’t just follow that first idea, create lots and lots of ideas. Work your creativity muscles by keeping lists of ideas on waiter pads. Come up with 100 ideas and then pick one to create. That is what creativity is all about. Not settling for one idea when you can come up with hundreds.

A SCARY goal is Artistic.

Even if your SCARY goal is something that has nothing to do with art with a capital “A”, make it the most artistic expression you can. A SCARY goal is achieved with style and grace and flair. If you want to grow pumpkins, create the farm in an artistic way so that is pleasing to you and the people who visit. If you want to sell cars, make it your art to know everything there is to know about the kinds of cars you are selling and what draws people to them. If you want to climb a mountain, explore all the possibilities of how to make that happen, just like an artist does.

When you are pursuing a SCARY goal, you want to be Ready to Learn.

I never want to stop learning. Any BIG IDEA doesn’t even have the knowledge base developed yet to do it. You have to be ready to learn what you know, learn what you don’t know and learn what you don’t know you don’t know. By always being Ready to Learn, you open up so many more possibilities than if you already have all the answers.

My favorite part of a SCARY goal is that You Get to make a Difference.

Your next big idea, your next SCARY goal, just by pursuing it, will make a difference in the world. By keeping in mind that your SCARY goal, the one that gave you that funny feeling in your stomach, can possibly make a difference in the lives of many people, you’ll continue to pursue that goal no matter how SCARY it is.

Don’t be DUMB by pursuing SMART goals. Try taking on a SCARY goal today.

Let me know what your SCARY goals are. I’m very interested in hearing about them. Stories are the wildest things.


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