Goals Should Not Be SMART

Goals Should Not Be SMART


I was first introduced to goal setting when I was a teenager. My dad, who was a businessman, purchased cassette tapes that had hours of lessons on them provided by Zig Ziglar, a salesman extraordinaire and motivational speaker. I can still hear him saying in a Mississippi drawl, “It is hard to hit a target you do not even have.”


Zig used to talk about the importance of setting SMART goals. He said goals must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant (what is in it for you if you), and time sensitive. Over the years and through a great deal of experience I have found that the acronym, SMART, must be expanded to increase the probability of reaching a goal.


I now use the acronym SMARTIE WV. A goal still must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time sensitive.

Small Steps

The “I “stands for intermediate. In order to achieve a long-term goal, it is essential to develop some intermediate goals along the way.

I was running up a mountain during a trail run I did recently. As I was chugging up the side of the mountain I did not focus on the long and steep grade to my front. Instead, I would pick out a tree about 100 feet ahead of me and focus on making it to that point. When I reached that intermediate point, I would then look ahead about another 30 yards or so and pick out another tree to run to.

I kept this up until I reached my goal of running to the top of the mountain. Those intermediate goals kept me focused and kept me moving forward without giving up.


The “E” stands for enthusiasm. I have found that a person must work toward a goal with great enthusiasm. It is heart, not muscle, that will get you over the top when tackling a tough challenge. A leader must exude positivity and optimism. It is up to the leader to demonstrate enthusiasm in order to motivate and inspire others on the team.

There will be setbacks while trying to attain a goal, and the leader must demonstrate to the rest of the team that setbacks are not hard stops to progress. Obstacles are designed to slow one down but not stop someone in their tracks. There is always a path over, under, around, or through an obstacle.

Write and Visualize

“W” stands for writing a goal down. The “V” stands for visualizing a goal. It is essential to commit one’s goal to paper and visualizes the achievement of the goal. In the mind’s eye, one should see the fulfillment of the goal. The mind completes whatever picture we begin to paint into it. It is essential to have strong faith and belief that the goals will be reached. It is important to carry the written goal around with you. Read your goal and visualize your achievement of that goal daily.

Once you set a SMARTIE goal and commit it to paper and visualize it, the next step is to develop an action plan. Goals without an action plan are nothing more than a mirage. At a minimum, the action plan should identify obstacles and risks to reaching the goals, benefits to reaching the goals, the skills, training, and education required, the people who could help achieve the goals, and the resources you need to achieve your goals.

That First Step is the Most Important

Next, one must take that first step in executing the plan and continue to take the additional steps necessary, to achieve the goals. Track progress and ensure milestones are reached on time. Take the opportunity to meet with trusted advisors so that they can help you keep your goal on track.

Keep Things Simple

Sometimes the simplest techniques are the most effective. Use the technique of applying the acronym SMARTIE WV to individual or team goals you have. Then develop an action plan and take that first step. Lean on trusted advisors in your network to help keep you on the path to achieving your goal. Do these things and you will be sure to achieve what you set out to accomplish.

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