How SMART goals set you up for failure!

I just had THE most interesting response to a question I posted on Facebook. I was gathering people’s opinions about when they typically do their business planning. The responses were falling in a 50/50 split between the last week of December and January.

Then I got this comment:

“Who seriously works between Christmas and New Years??! That is for couching, skiing, lounging and family. my best advice is self-care before burnout and Christmas season is a big part of that.”

That totally got me thinking and I believe explains the divide between the December planners and the January planners!

Some people come from the perspective that planning is work! While others, including me, see it as an indulgent pleasure!

Planning can be an indulgent pleasure!

I’m a BIG fan of planning during the lull between Christmas and the New Year. For me the opportunity to sink into the quiet, to reflect on my dreams and desires, play with possibilities and create what I want for the coming year is delicious!

What’s not to love about planning and creating the year of your dreams?

The WAY you choose plan not only has huge implications for your experience of planning, but also your ability to implement your plans, learn from them along the way and enjoy yourself.

It doesn’t surprise me that planning feels like work if you approach it using the much ballyhooed SMART goal setting system. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just hooey.

Setting SMART goals is hooey!

SMART goals are the pin-striped corporate suit of planning. They tend to be inflexible, arbitrary, judgmental and time pressured, all of which automatically creates resentment and considerable resistance. They are the stick, not the carrot! And if you think about it, they actually cultivate the very conditions that contribute to failure!

Imagine that you’re using SMART goals to plan a 1 year around the world trip. 12 months, 12 countries, culminating with a New Year’s Eve bash the day you arrive home. Say you run into an obstacle on the last leg of your journey. Your taxi to the airport breaks down and you miss your flight home. Then what? You have to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Bali? Boohoo!

Strictly speaking, in SMART goal planning, you’ve just failed to meet your goal. It doesn’t matter that you’re vacationing and celebrating in a gorgeous place, your brain still manages to focus on the fact that you failed to cross the finish line and complete your objective because SMART goals are focused on the destination, not the journey.

Seriously? In what world is New Year’s Eve in Bali in any way, shape or form a failure?

Your vision for a breakout year deserves better than to become mired in resentment, resistance and self-recrimination! It deserves an infinitely more humane, inspiring and practical way of staying focused, intentional and incredibly productive!

Which is why I went on the hunt to develop my own planning system.

I needed a process that felt lighter, more flexible, and more forgiving! What I’ve come up with an approach I call Yoga Pants planning!

Yoga Pants Planning to the Rescue

Don’t assume that means the Yoga Pants approach to planning is all loosey goosey. Yoga at its core is about being intentional, flexible and disciplined!

Just like in yoga, The Yoga Pants approach to planning will help you integrate your vision into a practice that can be woven into your day. The plans and practices you create will support you, while you focus on priority projects to bring your vision to life, build your muscle for success, and develop momentum to accelerate your progress.

Equal parts of soulful, visionary intent and savvy practicality.

The difference between Yoga Pants planning and SMART goals is that while SMART goals keep their eye on the prize, Yoga Pants Planning focuses on the journey.

Yes, you still choose an ultimate goal, but rather than a destination, it serves more as a North Star to guide you in the direction of your dream. Instead of pass or fail SMART destinations, you navigate by milestones which help you to stay on course, but don’t lend themselves to bludgeoning yourself if you decide to change your destination or you stumble at the finish line.

An epic round-the-world trip with Yoga Pants Planning would allow you to be more present and attentive to where you are at any given time rather than always having your gaze fixed on the finish line. Milestones ensure you don’t wander off into uncharted territory, but you’re more able to appreciate the value and triumph of every step you take in the right direction because there’s less pressure, judgment and expectation attached to your progress.

And if ultimately you don’t quite make it home for your New Year’s Eve bash, you can spend it revelling in Bali and appreciating the richness of your journey rather than beating yourself up for missing the mark.

It’s the perfect system for people who have a love-hate relationship with planning, and want the results, but hate the process, or never manage to make it across the finish line with their goals.

Former career nomad turned coach, I’ve helped more than 1600 people reimagine their work and lives.