SMART Goals and Habits

Martin Grunberg is the author of the best selling book The Habit Factor, and I have had the opportunity to hear him speak about habits on multiple occasions. I love his book, and all his research on habits… and even the app too. Check out his book here and his website here. The Habit Factor philosophy is that “HABIT is the single-greatest factor in a person’s ability to realize a life of success and achievement.”

On the Habit Factor blog, there was a very good post critiquing the SMART goal-setting theory that I thought I’d share. The more I researched goals, the more I also realized that the SMART theory is effective, but habits and behavioral change also play huge role in goal achievement.


Here is an excerpt straight from the post:


Be More S.M.A.R.T.-ER
Looks pretty good right? Over 33,000,000 Google results (do a search)— S.M.A.R.T. goals can’t be all bad? And, the answer is, they aren’t. Well, unfortunately, they just aren’t ALL good either, here’s why.

From my experience coaching and helping people with their goals here are five “challenges” I have with SMART goals.

1) The To-Do List. After you go through all the necessary S.M.A.R.T. criteria, guess what. You’re left with a To-Do List. “So what” you say, “What’s wrong with a To-Do list?” Well, nothing really, if you can ensure it’s not getting mixed up with your daily, life to-do list: you know, call grandma, pickup cereal, call the dentist, wash car, feed fish, etc.  The To-Do List is ubiquitous, never-ending and always growing. So people go to bed at night and wonder, “Did I get any closer to my goal today?” The answer, of course, is unfortunately “NO”.

2)  Enter: HABIT. The biggest challenge with SMART goals, is its greatest oversight; SMART goals do NOT take into account HABIT. No mention of the conscious development of supportive, core behaviors (habits) to achieve your goal. It’s astounding when you consider that everyone’s greatest tool for achievement is habit and yet habit hasn’t been offered in any goal achievement theory to date, let alone the most popular goal achievement methodology, S.M.A.R.T. goals.

3) The subconscious mind: What “experts” in achievement and “success” coaches would tell you is that your subconscious mind has far more influence than your conscious mind when it comes to goal achievement. Now whether that is 10x or 100x more influence, that is up for debate. What appears to not be up for debate, that is, what they ALL agree upon is that the subconscious mind has the greatest influence when it comes to goal achievement. So, my friend, here is the question? Where do your habits reside? BINGO! In the subconscious mind! Now, here is another question, does it make sense to follow a goal methodology that doesn’t take into account habit which is a direct path to your subconscious mind?

BTW: Below for your reading pleasure is an excerpt from publicly made available PDF from Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham – on Goal Setting theory:
Here’s the link. I love the final paragraph/specifically the last sentence. Enjoy!

4) SMART Goals criteria gets confused:  See the above screen shot and you’ll notice there is no less than three terms behind each letter in the acronym. So what is being regurgitated by coaches and want-to-be coaches unfortunately, is often incorrect.

5) There is a “simpler” way. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci & “Everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler.” ~Einstein. Combined, these two edicts (from a couple geniuses) have greatly influenced my creative efforts. Consider the simplicity and you might even say, elegance (see Dr. Evil pinky) of simply tracking 3-5 core, related behaviors to achieve your goal. Exciting isn’t it?

Read the whole post here:



In Version 2 of Smart Goals that just launched, you will have the ability not just to set and track your goals, but also your bucket list, and your habits. I best imagine the app to contain your top 3-5 SMART goals that are broken down into measurable and time-bound milestones,  unlimited short term and long term bucket list goals, and 3-5 habits, or as #5 above says, “3-5 core, related behaviors to achieve your goal.”

smart goals, dreams, habits

***The Dreams and Habit feature will be available in version 2.1, August 2013


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