Holiday Efficiency: In praise of Dumb processes over SMART goals

by evoker on December 9, 2011

in Coaching and mentoring,Self development

trade SMART goals for softer approach at holidaysWe are all taught to use, and teach others, to set SMART goals. This busy time of year, we are “making a list, checking it twice.” So much to do, so little mistletoe. But maybe you need some dumb goals to balance out and enrich your holidays.

This SMART acronym, one of the more universally known in the world of organizations – but as a reminder – stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measureable
  • Achieveable/Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timebound

Managers and coaches are taught to put all their work into SMART goals so we can take action and measure the value. The only problem is that sometimes goals, even SMART ones, are dumb and dumber. SMART or no, even setting goals is not always the best thing. Sometime paying attention to themes is the more useful work, and the goal-setting (which usually comes, but not always) will come later.

This requires a short, blog-like explanation, don’t you think?

There are times when action is called for, and commitments and measures work. Holidays are filled with projects like this. SMART these moments out with your best left-brained management thinking. SMART is about focus and action. This we are trained in. We have the mental muscles and the will for this kind of thinking.

But we also know, at least in our hearts, that there are times when action is not called for, when increased awareness or communication is the goal, and when a kind of diffused thinking with a soft focus is the ticket. When over-busy, like at holiday time, we can forget this side of things. This softer style of thinking allows the parts of our minds that get pushed aside by focus to come into play. Artists need this kind of soft thinking to allow the work of art to come through them. And we need this kind of thinking for family time, for lingering in our jammies in front of the fire, for the wandering love-laced conversations with our extended family, the kinds that holidays call for and are more important than the iPhone that you gave as a gift.

A song may take five minutes to write, or five days or five months. To have a SMART goal for a painting or a song is to put a limited mental function over a living process. It is putting MBA and time management thinking into a creative, or – just to name a few more – a community-building or friend-relating process, the kind that need spaciousness and even messiness. Holidays need this spaciousness, not just efficiency. Life needs spaciousness, not just strategic plans.

So this holiday season, make time for the non-SMART. Let’s begin a new theme awareness process to balance out SMART goal setting. We can call it SURE, which stands for.

  • Sensible and soft
  • Unfettered/ Undeadlined
  • Relaxed and relevant
  • Expansive

In sum, here is a chart for the part of us that likes charts. Happy Dumb Holidays!

Animus YangAnima Yin
Plane of ActionPlane of Awareness

Post image AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by féileacán

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