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The Major Problem with Your Goal Setting

By: Nathan Chai, December 16, 2016

The major problem with your goal setting

If the title didn’t give it away already, today we’re going to be talking about goals. If you’ve come this far in your journey (be it financial freedom, property investing, or wealth creation) then I’m going to assume you’ve already know how essential goals are.

The problem with most goals is that they’re SMART goals. That is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. An example of a SMART goal is thus; I want to earn £5,000 from rental properties per month by 20xx. This is a fantastic example of a goal, and I’m not advocating that you don’t set goals like this.

However, do you wake up in the mornings full of excitement and giddiness thinking “I want to earn £5,000 from rental properties per month by 2020!”? No. Of course you don’t. The problem with SMART goals is that they lack the crucial element that gets people out of their seats, excited, and PUMPED: emotion.

Emotional goals 101

I was sitting my one of my coaches and we were going through my goals. After we’d been through each one, my coach looked at me and said “Are these really your goals?” I nodded, slightly confused. “I don’t believe you,” he replied, and the session was over. Defeated (and slightly annoyed) I went home and spent the next week thinking about my goals and what I wanted to achieve with my life… and I went a bit mad.

I started thinking about becoming a race car driver, feeling the g-force as I slammed an old muscle car through a chicane. I started to imagine running a company that created personal farms for people with small amounts of space. I began dreaming of what it would be like to go to space! As I imagined each scenario, I could feel my body resonating, my heart rate increasing, and my mouth moving into an upward curvature.

Then I realised what my coach was trying to tell me. The written goals didn’t excite me, they didn’t move me, I wanted the things that I’d written but only to achieve the things I’d dreamt about. Then a second realisation hit me! My mechanically written SMART goals were a means to an end. To get me to a place that I could do the things that I dreamed about doing.

The problem with SMART goals

Again, I want to reiterate that SMART goals are great. But they’re a misnomer. They aren’t goals as such, more like a plan, a direction to head, a strategy. Take my goal of racing American muscle cars, there are a load of ways that I can achieve it. Here are three SMART ways of doing it:

  • Acquire 10 sponsors to pay for the car and race entry by the start of 2020’s race season
  • Earn £60,000 from rental properties per year and free up 30 hours a week to practice by the start of 2020’s race season
  • Have saved £60,000 to pay for the car and race entry + £12,000 to live on, and quit my job by 2020

When you write SMART goals, it’s about finding ways that you can conceivably achieve something. The thing is that it’s what you’re going to do after you hit the SMART goal that matters. When you get a bit mad and think about what you’d like to unreasonably achieve, the whole process gets a lot more fun.

Emotions exist to enable us to make decisions, they power our moods, our drive, and our commitments. By creating and writing down goals that you have an immense emotional attachment to, you’re helping yourself go that extra mile and give more or your time and energy every day.

What are your emotionally charged goals?

Think about what really makes you happy, it could be buying a loved one their dream object, or walking into your own bustling office and sitting behind a door that reads “CEO and Founder”, it could even be sitting in a living room knowing that the house is yours.

Treat SMART goals as your plan of attack or strategy to get to the dream that you desire. Allow yourself to dream big, and don’t limit yourself to what you think is achievable.

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