I am very firmly of the opinion that having some kind of a metric to measure your goals is critical to your success. A good metric, according to GeckoBoard, has three characteristics:
- The metric is tied closely to your primary objective
- The metric can be improved
- The metric inspires action
To me, all of this means that you can have different metrics based on where the goal fits in to your life. I know I’ve talked about BossedUp before (because they’re amazing!) and the LifeTracker breaks goals down into four areas: professional, relationships, wellness, and other. I think breaking down goals in this way helps to very clearly identify why you’re working on something.
One thing I’ve talked a lot about because I love this metric is setting a SMART Goal. Heck, I even teach a course about it! SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. I think having a metric that helps break down HUGE goals into manageable steps. There’s no way I’m opposed to setting big goals, but sometimes goals can be so big that they’re paralyzing. Breaking it down so you’re achieving your goal “line upon line” “here a little and there a little” can go a long way in making sure you keep moving forward.
But I can see that SMART goals also have some limitations. It can be easy to set a small goal and then feel good because you achieved the goal, even if it didn’t get you where you want or need to be.
Enter, Stretch goals.
In the goal-setting space, I see Stretch goals being presented as the antithesis of SMART goals. Stretch goals are supposed to challenge you, get you somewhere you could never imagine with your “puny” SMART goals. Stretch goals are extremely difficult and or extremely novel and they have potential to get you somewhere you never could have imagined. But they can also paralyze you and that’s not going to help anyone.
Truth be told, I see value in both metrics and think they can be combined. Ruth Soukup over at Living Well Spending Less talks about setting your loftiest goal – you’re really going to stretch – and working back wards, essentially setting mini-SMART goals and making adjustments along the way to help you get to where you need to go.
What do you think? If you’re a goal setting junkie, is there one metric you prefer over another one? Do you think SMART & Stretch goals can be combined, or do you think I’m completely off my rocker? Let me know in the comments below!
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